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, Frederick, Md.