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About the National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component of the NIH, is the federal government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients. click to play About NCI movie

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The NCI was established under the National Cancer Act of 1937. The National Cancer Act of 1971 broadened the scope and responsibilities of the NCI and created the National Cancer Program. Over the years, the NCI's mandate has come to include dissemination of current cancer information and assessment of the incorporation of state-of-the-art cancer treatments into clinical practice. Today, the NCI's activities include:

  • supporting and coordinating research projects conducted by universities, hospitals, research foundations, and businesses throughout this country and abroad through research grants and cooperative agreements;
  • conducting research in its own laboratories and clinics;
  • supporting education and training in all areas of cancer research through training grants, fellow-ships, and "career awards" for longtime researchers;
  • supporting a national network of Cancer Centers, which are hubs of cutting-edge research, high quality cancer care, and outreach and education for both health care professionals and the general public;
  • collaborating with voluntary organizations and other national and foreign institutions engaged in cancer research and training activities;
  • collaborating with partners in industry in a number of areas, including the development of technologies that are revolutionizing cancer research; and
  • collecting and disseminating information about cancer.

For more information about the National Cancer Institute, visit its Web site at http://www.nci.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health

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click to play NIH videoThe National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world's top medical research center, is charged with addressing the health concerns of the nation. The NIH is the largest U.S. governmental sponsor of health studies conducted nationwide.

Simply described, the NIH's goal is to acquire new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability, from the rarest genetic disorder to the common cold. The NIH works toward that goal by conducting research in its own laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland, and at several other locations throughout the United States; supporting the research of nonfederal scientists throughout the country and abroad; helping to train research investigators; and fostering communication of medical information to the public.

The NIH Supports Research

A principal concern of the NIH is to invest wisely the tax dollars entrusted to it for the support and conduct of medical research. Approximately 82 percent of the investment is made through grants and contracts supporting research and training in more than 2,000 universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the United States and abroad.

Approximately 10 percent of the budget goes to more than 2,000 projects conducted mainly in NIH laboratories. About 80 percent covers support costs of research conducted both within and outside the NIH.

NIH Research Grants

To apply for a research grant, an individual scientist must submit an idea in a written application. Each application undergoes a peer review process. A panel of scientific experts, who are active researchers in the medical sciences, first evaluates the scientific merit of the application. Then, a national advisory council or board, composed of eminent scientists as well as public members who are interested in health issues or the medical sciences, determines the project's overall merit and priority. Because funds are limited, the process is very competitive.

The Nobelists

The rosters of those who have conducted research, or who have received NIH support over the years, include some of the world's most illustrious scientists and physicians. Among them are 97 scientists who have won Nobel Prizes for achievements as diverse as deciphering the genetic code and learning what causes hepatitis.

Five Nobelists made their prize-winning discoveries in NIH laboratories: Doctors Christian B. Anfinsen, Julius Axelrod, D. Carleton Gajdusek, Marshall W. Nirenberg, and Martin Rodbell.

Impact of the NIH on the Nation's Health

The research programs of the NIH have been remarkably successful during the past 50 years. NIH-funded scientists have made substantial progress in understanding the basic mechanisms of disease and have vastly improved the preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic options available.

During the last few decades, NIH research played a major role in making possible achievements like these:

Educational and Training Opportunities at the NIH

The NIH offers myriad opportunities including summer research positions for students. For details, visit http://science.education.nih.gov/students.

For more information about the NIH, visit http://www.nih.gov.

The NIH Office of Science Education

The NIH Office of Science Education (OSE) is bringing exciting new resources free of charge to science teachers of grades kindergarten through 12. OSE learning tools support teachers in training the next generation of scientists and scientifically literate citizens. These materials cover information not available in standard textbooks and allow students to explore biological concepts using real world examples. In addition to the curriculum supplements, OSE provides a host of valuable resources accessible through the OSE Web site http://science.education.nih.gov, such as:

In the development of learning tools, OSE supports science education reform as outlined in the National Science Education Standards and related guidelines.

We welcome your comments about existing resources and suggestions about how we may best meet your needs. Feel free to send your comments to us at http://science.education.nih.gov/feedback.

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2 This project is a collaborative effort between OSE and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health.

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