After several years of stagnating research funds, President Obama’s stimulus package has resulted in an influx of cancer research resources. Of the $10.4 billion approved for the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will receive $1.3 billion dollars from now through 2010.
As a result of this critical funding, Dr. John Niederhuber (director for NCI) told participants at an American Association for Cancer meeting in Denver that the number of research projects funded by NCI will increase by a third.
Presently, the NCI funds the top 12 percent of all research grant applications that the organization receives. With both a larger budget and the money provided through the stimulus package, the top 25 percent of future grant applications are expected to receive funding.
Dr. Niederhuber and the rest of the National Cancer Institute are intent on maximizing the results gleaned from funded programs. In accordance with this goal, priority funding will likely be given to programs that seek to prevent cancer or diagnose it earlier. Additionally, programs that seek to reduce side effects of cancer treatment will also be emphasized.
Specifically, Dr. Niederhumber outlined three initiatives that he believes will lead to crucial new cancer discoveries. The first is The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a program that seeks to identify all genes correlated to malignant cancer tumors.
The second signature initiative will build on findings culled from the TCGA program to create new, more effective cancer-fighting drugs. The program will focus on personalized cancer care that is based on the unique characteristics and genetic makeup of a patient’s tumor.
Finally, NCI is intent on using new funds to promote the expansion and applicability of cancer research beyond the realm of fighting and treating cancer. Potential areas of science where cancer research may be helpful include thermodynamics and energy flows.