In order to keep its $90 million per year cancer research budget
highly focused and not duplicative of government-sponsored efforts,
the American Cancer Society (ACS) has announced a major restructuring
of its research and professional training programs. The changes
call for a new focus on beginning scientists and targeted research
projects and an increased commitment to epidemiologic research,
psychosocial, behavioral and health- care policy research, and
cancer prevention--areas not currently being emphasized by other
cancer research funding agencies.
The society's Board of Directors recently approved the restructuring,
The changes are the result of an extensive evaluation of the society's
research and professional training activities. In 1994 the ACS
appointed a Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee on Research and Medical
Grants to conduct the review, in addition to examining the state
of cancer research and health-care professional training nationwide
and identifying gaps and opportunities that the society can fill.
The recommendations of the committee, which consisted of nonmedical
and medical society volunteers with broad knowledge of both the
organization and cancer, along with scientists and clinicians
outside the ACS with expertise in cancer research, complement,
but do not duplicate unnecessarily, other organizations' cancer
research and training programs.
Funding of New Investigators Addressed
"One of the biggest gaps the Society's newly refocused research
program now addresses is funding the work of beginning investigators.
The future of cancer control lies with the next generation of
researchers and teachers, the very people least likely to receive
funding by other agencies," says John Laszlo, MD, national
vice president for research for the society. "In order to
continue the momentum of discoveries of past decades, and to provide
the launching pad for future advances, the American Cancer Society
believes it is vital to support beginning investigators and teachers
to develop the necessary skills to continue exploring frontiers
in cancer control," says Dr. Laszlo.
The new research program will attempt to seek out investigators
in the first 8 years of their careers.
Another new focus for the society is promoting targeted research
in areas of high priority and opportunity, which will help the
ACS find answers quickly to highly selected questions. All research
applications, including targeted research, will continue to be
Increased Emphasis on Psychosocial and Behavioral Research
"To fulfill unmet needs in cancer prevention and technology
transfer over a range of cancer issues, the Society is increasing
its emphasis on psychosocial, behavioral, and health care policy
research," notes Dr. Laszlo. "As one of the first organizations
to recognize the importance of psychosocial and behavioral research
and to develop a specific program for funding this type of research,
the Society continues to demonstrate its commitment to this area."
In addition to external funding, the society recently created
a new intramural research unit to conduct psychosocial and behavioral
research and help integrate findings into ACS programs aimed at
cancer prevention, detection, and treatment.
"These exciting changes will reemphasize our commitment to
research and put maximum resources where they will do the most
good," says Dr. Laszlo.
The society will maintain the Institutional Research Grants program,
which awards funds to institutions that, in turn, make awards
to young investigators. The Research Development Program, which
makes funds available for promising, cutting edge projects, will
be renamed the Research Opportunity Fund to better reflect the
goal of the program. "In these times of rapid change and
great opportunity in biomedical research, the ability to fund
potentially important, new pilot projects may create opportunities
and rapid progress in new research areas," says Dr. Laszlo.
Other enhancements to the research program include consolidating
personnel awards and focusing them on beginning investigators
and encouraging outside collaborations to maximize the society's
impact on cancer control.
Since 1946 the ACS has spent nearly $2 billion on cancer research.
Revised policies and application forms on diskette are available
in grants offices of universities and institutions. For more information,
call the ACS Office of Extramural Grants and Awards at 404-329-7558.