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Cancer Moonshot℠ Research Initiatives

The Cancer Moonshot rests on a solid foundation of scientific research. The research initiatives of the initial Cancer Moonshot launched in 2016 are delivering important insights into the mechanisms that drive cancer and have identified candidates for new cancer treatments, as well as new approaches for preventing and detecting cancer. They have laid the foundation for new programs and progress to accelerate discovery, increase collaboration, and expand data sharing among the research community.

2016 Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendation Initiatives

Following receipt of the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) report, and the authorization of the 21st Century Cures Act, NCI established implementation teams that align with each of the BRP recommendations. The teams identified opportunities and developed initiatives for funding that directly address each of the recommendations. These marked the beginning of a Cancer Moonshot portfolio that continues to expand.

2022 Cancer Moonshot Initiatives

As the Cancer Moonshot continues, NCI is focusing on activities that support the goals set forth by President Biden in 2022. Several initiatives have already been launched that will address the goals of this phase of the Cancer Moonshot.

Major trial to evaluate multi-cancer detection tests

Multi-cancer detection blood tests may provide less-invasive tools for early detection of cancer and improved health outcomes. The NCI Multi-Cancer Detection (MCD) Test Vanguard Study is a 4-year pilot study that will enroll 24,000 people ages 45 to 70 to inform the design of a much larger randomized controlled trial involving about 225,000 people. The study will evaluate whether the benefits of using MCD tests to screen for cancer outweigh the harms, and whether they can detect cancer early enough to reduce deaths.

The Vanguard study will be conducted through the NCI Cancer Screening Research Network (CSRN), a new network of organizations to include health care systems, practice-based networks, academic institutions, and consortia of researchers. Members of existing clinical trial networks such as NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network and the NCI Community Oncology Research Program may also participate. Funding opportunities to develop the CSRN and the Vanguard study will be released in late 2022, and NCI will begin recruiting volunteers for the study in 2024.

Cancer Moonshot Scholars

Cancer Moonshot Scholars is an early-career grant program with a focus on developing a cancer research workforce that is representative of the US population. The program aims to improve the diversity of the applicant pool for NCI R01 grant funding. The program will provide grants to early-stage investigators from underrepresented groups to support the next generation of diverse, world-class scientists and health innovators.

NCI intends to fund at least 45 early-stage investigators in initial rounds beginning in 2023, with project periods of up to 5 years, investing approximately $135 million.

Telehealth research centers

The NCI Telehealth Research Centers of Excellence (TRACE) program aims to determine whether the use of telehealth can improve cancer-related care and outcomes across the cancer control continuum. A centerpiece of the program will be a trial to evaluate how telehealth—used broadly during the COVID-19 pandemic—practiced in a real-world clinical environment may improve patient access, quality of care, patient-provider communication, and health outcomes for people of all ages and all socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.

NCI is investing $23 million in the program over 5 years (2022-2027) to four academic research institutions. Each center will focus on an overarching cancer-focused telehealth research theme that will frame their studies and will work with local clinical practices in their areas to support the studies.

Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT)

PACT is a five-year, public–private research collaboration launched by NIH and 11 pharmaceutical companies.

Learn how PACT will accelerate the development of new cancer immunotherapy strategies for more patients.