The beginning of 2017 rang in several updates to the longstanding NCI Cancer Centers Program, which is the governing body for bestowing NCI designation on cancer centers in the United States. Recent changes to the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) guidelines reflect additions in demonstrating the impact of the cancer centers to their respective communities. Several newly-added components speak to growing engagement throughout the cancer continuum.
Education and Training
The Cancer Centers Program aims to foster highly-interactive cancer research by supporting education and training. Cancer Research Career Enhancement and Related Activities, a new component, allocates space within the grant to the Center’s focus on cancer research education and training. Education and training has expanded substantially from engaging clinical fellows and post-doctoral research associates and now includes the education and training of undergraduate, graduate, medical, and even high school students, as well as mentoring junior faculty and formally funded training programs. A specific funding opportunity, focused on educating students by providing unique experiences to encourage further study in a cancer-focused field, was highlighted as a mechanism to enhance education and training. Centers must demonstrate their ability to integrate both existing and new education/training opportunities into their research programs.
Engagement certainly does not stop with education and training. The second newly-added component to the CCSG, entitled Community Outreach and Engagement, is specifically intended for Centers to highlight their unique catchment area and the impact the Center has in reducing the burden of cancer in its respective community. The definition and support of a geographically-defined catchment area has been an important facet of comprehensive cancer centers for many years; however, Centers have become responsible for linking their programmatic science to cancer research issues in the community, as well as community impact. The evolution of the CCSG commands that centers tell their comprehensive story of fostering translation, starting from the laboratory bench to the bedside to the bicycle paths throughout their catchment area. And not yet ending, but leading back again to the bench for another iteration.
With this improved and expanded focus on engagement, we are reminded of the nationwide focus on network building to expedite our fight in the war on cancer. Several large-scale initiatives, including the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot, AACR Project GENIE, ASCO CancerLinq, and the launch of the NCI Genomic Data Commons, all remind us we must unite through academic partnerships, community engagement and data sharing, in order to maximize our impact. Via the NCI, several new funding opportunities have recently become available to support the recommendations of the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel report recommendations. In particular, one RFA calls for enabling technologies to accelerate cancer research. As the research community works to advance enabling technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9, patient-derived xenografts, genomics, new delivery of immunotherapies, we, as the community who supports and empowers this research, must find our enabling technologies to best tell the stories of our Centers.
Want to learn how Forte’s Research Evaluation System (EVAL) can help you with CCSG applications, renewals and progress reports? EVAL provides data table 1 and 2 reporting, and tracks the required data to meet 2017 CCSG guidelines. It’s an ideal solution to demonstrate the true impact of your research to those inside and outside your organization. Click below to sign up for an open demo.