BETHESDA, Md--In an anxiously awaited report, the National Cancer
Advisory Board (NCAB) Ad Hoc Working Group on the NCI Intramural
Research Program (IRP) made dozens of recommendations for change
in the way intramural research is administered and conducted at
the Institute (see below).
"NCI represents the nation's best hope--perhaps its only
hope--for conquering cancer," said J. Michael Bishop, MD,
director, George Williams Hooper Research Foundation, University
of California, San Francisco. Dr. Bishop co-chaired the group
along with Paul Calabresi, MD, chairman emeritus, Brown University
Department of Medicine.
Yet the report found the IRP to be an "unnecessarily complex
and redundant organization" in need of overhaul.
The working group of 12 scientists, all from outside the NCI,
investigated the following: quality control, morale of the scientific
work force, nurturing of talent, especially that of junior scientists,
the IRP's intellectual suitability and administrative efficiency,
and strategic planning.
The report stated that "recent attrition at the highest ranks
of NCI management provides an opportunity to reconsider its current
structure. In addition, the entire NIH is under a mandate to streamline
its operations and reduce the number of its employees."
Specific issues that the working group investigated include the
size of the intramural research program relative to its mission
and in comparison to the extramural research program; suitability
of the current organization; suitability, quality, and cost effectiveness
of its clinical research and drug development activities; and
the necessity of maintaining a large NCI facility at Fort Detrick,