|March 26, 2016|
The National Cancer Institute ( NCI ) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCI coordinates the U.S. National Cancer Program and conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other activities related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; the supportive care of cancer patients and their families; and cancer survivorship. As of July 2010, the current director of the NCI is Dr. Harold Varmus.
The National Cancer Institute has large intramural research programs in Bethesda, Maryland and NCI-Frederick at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland. In addition, the NCI funds cancer researchers around the United States.
Congress established the NCI by the National Cancer Institute Act , August 6, 1937, as an independent research institute. Congress then made the NCI an operating division of the National Institutes of Health by the Public Health Service Act, July 1, 1944. Congress amended the Public Health Service Act with the National Cancer Act of 1971 to broaden the scope and responsibilities of the NCI "in order more effectively to carry out the national effort against cancer." Over the years, legislative amendments have maintained the NCI authorities and responsibilities and added new information dissemination mandates as well as a requirement to assess the incorporation of state-of-the-art cancer treatments into clinical practice.
The NCI played an early role in the development of anti-cancer drugs in the U.S. According to a 1996 NCI analysis of drugs approved by the FDA , two-thirds of the anti-cancer drugs approved as of the end of 1995 were NCI-sponsored Investigational New Drugs:
Alkylating agent s .
Plant alkaloids and antibiotics
Hormones and steroids
In addition, scientists in the NCI played an important role in the discovery and development of important AIDS drugs including zidovudine (AZT), didanosine (ddI), and zalcitabine (ddC).
The NCI provides funding for numerous cancer research endeavors. Two of its largest known grants include the Radiological Physics Center (RPC) in Houston, Texas and the Quality Assurance Review Center (QARC) in Providence, Rhode Island. The RPC assures the NCI of proper participation in the physics-related aspects of its studies and QARC provides radiotherapy quality assurance and diagnostic imaging data management to all of the NCI sponsored cooperative groups. The RPC essentially guides all participating institutions as to how radiation is to be applied in a radiotherapy protocol. QARC on the other hand performs thousands of radiotherapy reviews per year and receives radiotherapy data from around 1,000 hospitals in both the United States and abroad. In all, over 30,000 cases have been reviewed at QARC since its inception in 1977. QARC also maintains a strategic affiliation with the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. The RPC has been consistently funded by the NCI since 1968, and QARC has received support from the NCI since 1980.
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