Board Wants Changes In Intramural Research

July 1, 1995
Volume 4, Issue 7

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).

BETHESDA, Md--In an anxiously awaited report, the National CancerAdvisory Board (NCAB) Ad Hoc Working Group on the NCI IntramuralResearch Program (IRP) made dozens of recommendations for changein the way intramural research is administered and conducted atthe Institute (see below).

"NCI represents the nation's best hope--perhaps its onlyhope--for conquering cancer," said J. Michael Bishop, MD,director, George Williams Hooper Research Foundation, Universityof California, San Francisco. Dr. Bishop co-chaired the groupalong with Paul Calabresi, MD, chairman emeritus, Brown UniversityDepartment of Medicine.

Yet the report found the IRP to be an "unnecessarily complexand 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 scientificwork force, nurturing of talent, especially that of junior scientists,the IRP's intellectual suitability and administrative efficiency,and strategic planning.

'Recent Attrition'

The report stated that "recent attrition at the highest ranksof NCI management provides an opportunity to reconsider its currentstructure. In addition, the entire NIH is under a mandate to streamlineits operations and reduce the number of its employees."

Specific issues that the working group investigated include thesize of the intramural research program relative to its missionand in comparison to the extramural research program; suitabilityof the current organization; suitability, quality, and cost effectivenessof its clinical research and drug development activities; andthe necessity of maintaining a large NCI facility at Fort Detrick,Frederick, Md.

The working group found strengths and weaknesses in all the areasit investigated, and although the report emphasized the qualityand productivity of IRP scientists, it left no room for doubtthat serious and far-reaching changes to the program are needed.

Selected Recommendations From the NCAB for the NCI's IntramuralResearch Program

From the Report of the National Cancer Advisory Board Ad Hoc WorkingGroup on the NCI Intramural Program.