As part of its cutting-edge program, the Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) plays a critical role in the activities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NCI, contributing to the integration of imaging with emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, proteomics, and high-throughput screening. In addition to funding projects in key areas, CIP supports researchers by providing pooled resources and developing protocols that encourage the sharing of data, samples, and results.
Cancer health disparities are exemplified by differences in cancer morbidity and mortality as a function of gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Health care institutions that provide cancer services to medically underserved, low-income, minority populations often are not linked effectively to the national cancer research enterprise and struggle to maintain state-of-the-art cancer care. RRP’s Cancer Disparities Research Partnership (CDRP) program was designed to test novel approaches toward reducing the negative consequences associated with cancer health disparities. Following two 5-year funding periods, the CDRP program is no longer an active funding mechanism, however, the RRP continues to work with CDRP and others interested in addressing this critical issue. A manuscript summarizing the highlights and lessons learned is in preparation.
Clinical trial research infrastructures at community-based institutions to facilitate the participation of targeted ethnic and minority, medically underserved, or low-income populations in the latest NCI-sponsored radiation oncology or combined modality treatment trials
Mentoring partnerships with cancer centers and institutions with clinical trials expertise, and particularly, cancer centers experienced in clinical trials; these partnerships were facilitated by the provided telemedicine system (TELESYNERGY®)
Community education and outreach activities and patient navigation program to facilitate patient recruitment and accrual into clinical trials
From these accomplishments, RRP succeeded in 2008 to reissue the CDRP program as a limited competition RFA (RFA-CA-09-502). In September 2009, three grantees (Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota; Singing River Health System in Pascagoula, Mississippi; and New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina) received five-year funding, while the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s McKeesport Hospital in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, received a two-year award.
This final U54 implementation phase of the CDRP program (2009 – 2014) has provided the necessary time for the grantees to stabilize their existing clinical research infrastructure and modify or adopt new strategies. This time will allow them to maximize: the access, accrual, and participation of their minority and underserved populations onto all forms of NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials, including cancer prevention, symptom management, cancer control, surgical, medical, and radiation oncology. The successful CDRP grantees will have to apply for other NCI funding, especially the Division of Cancer Prevention’s Community Clinical Oncology Program, in order to sustain established cancer disparities programs that address the needs of minority and underserved populations.
The Radiobiology Bioterrorism Research and Training Group (RABRAT) is an informal working group of scientists in federal agencies that are involved in radiation research. RABRAT meets three to four times per year. Members include:
Low-Dose Radiation Research Program of the Department of Energy (DoE), Normal Tissue Medical Countermeasures Program of NIAID, radiobiology and biodosimetry programs of the DoD/ Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), space radiation groups at NASA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and many others interested in preparedness for radiation accidents and terrorism events.
The purpose of RABRAT is to help keep the agencies informed of ongoing activities, to avoid gaps and duplications in efforts, and to discuss training and educational opportunities. In addition to RRP staff, members include representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, other NCI divisions (Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, Division of Cancer Biology, and Division of Cancer Prevention), NIH Institutes (NIAID), and other government agencies (FDA, DoD, DoE, EPA, NASA, Department of Homeland Security, and Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site).
Bhadrasain Vikram, MD, 240-276-5726, firstname.lastname@example.org
C. Norman Coleman, MD, 240-276-5679, email@example.com
Maithili Daphtary, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org (Non-government program supporter/volunteer)
The RRP members are all involved in various international collaborations for scientific education and clinical trials. They have had long-standing interest and experiences in global cancer networking and research.
Some RRP staff examples include:
Dr. Vikram served at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and helped establish PACT (below), a program for medically underserved countries. He pioneered the Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCC).
Dr. Coleman helped develop the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium (coordinated by NCI’s Office of International Affairs), the Singapore Cancer Syndicate, and the King Hussein Cancer Center and has taken an advisory role to numerous countries around the world. He has helped pioneer the International Cancer Expert Corps (below).
Dr. Mansoor Ahmed and Dr. Pat Prasanna helped establish a NCI-India Radiation Research Program that consists of discussions and collaborations which informally advises Indian researchers in the areas of radiation oncology/biology research, training and education. (NCI-RadDG, below)
The International Cancer Expert Corps (ICEC) was developed by professionals within NCI, particularly the Center for Global Health and the Radiation Research Program. While it is not a NCI activity, RRP plays a central role in developing mechanisms for a public-private partnership related to cancer health disparities. Details are on the iceccancer.org website.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through PACT aims at building strategic partnerships in an effort to maximize the complementary expertise and mandates of the global cancer control community for the benefit of low and middle income countries.
Partnerships with the NCI focus primarily on education and training for healthcare professionals from these low and middle income countries. In order to contribute to capacity building in low and middle income countries, the NCI offers scholarships for professionals supported by the IAEA through PACT, as part of its commitment to strengthening the capacity and knowledge of health professionals.
The NCI-RadDG was established by ongoing communications amongst the Radiation Research Program and India. RRP’s collaborative efforts of working with radiation and clinical oncology experts will help develop a mutually supportive portfolio of modifiers of radiation, with both molecular target therapy and immunotherapy. The NCI does promote inter-group trial networks between Indian cancer institutions to encourage the coordination of translational radiation modifier trials with the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) and NRG cooperative groups.
The STTR & SBIR Programs are similar in that both programs seek to increase small business participation and private-sector commercialization of technology developed through federal research and development. The SBIR Program funds early-stage research and development at small businesses. The unique feature of the STTR Program is the requirement for the small business concern applicant organization to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II.
The NCI SBIR & STTR Programs fosters research and development for anticancer agents, biomarkers, informatics, medical devices, nanotechnology, proteomics, pharmacodynamics, and many other biotechnologies and programs designed to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.
For more information, http://sbir.cancer.gov/
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.
The scientific hypothesis underlying the development of the consortium is that a cancer patient’s likelihood of developing toxicity to radiation therapy is influenced by common genetic variations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
The Consortium members undertake collaborative projects to identify SNPs associated with adverse effects following radiotherapy, share data and samples, perform meta-analyses, and work together to submit research grant applications.