AACR cancer report highlights basic research discoveries, need for funding

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

September 21, 2022 -- The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) on September 21 released its annual Cancer Progress Report highlighting the importance of basic research and the need for continued federal investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

"Basic research discoveries have driven the remarkable advances that we've seen in cancer medicine in recent years," AACR President Lisa Coussens, PhD, said in a statement. "Targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and other new therapeutic approaches being applied clinically all stem from fundamental discoveries in basic science. Investment in cancer science, as well as support for science education at all levels, is absolutely essential to drive the next wave of discoveries and accelerate progress."

While scientific advancements in research are improving, extending, and saving lives, AACR noted in its report that despite unprecedented progress being made in recent years cancer research faces significant challenges.

AACR called on Congress to continue to support "robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding growth" in the NIH and NCI budgets "by providing increases of at least $4.1 billion and $853 million, respectively, in their fiscal year 2023 base budgets." In addition, the cancer research association wants to see lawmakers fully fund initiatives authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act, including the National Cancer Moonshot.

Last week, President Joe Biden discussed the progress of the Cancer Moonshot effort and new initiatives. Biden noted that NCI has opened a brand-new early-career grant opportunity to invest in the next generation of innovative cancer researchers with a focus on developing a cancer research workforce that is more representative of the U.S. population.

NCI's Cancer Moonshot Scholars program is meant to inspire and support the next generation of researchers focused on scientific breakthroughs that will "make a difference for patients and drive progress toward the goal of ending cancer as we know it today," Biden said. NCI plans to support cohorts of dozens of Cancer Moonshot Scholars in initial rounds, beginning in 2023 with project periods of up to five years.

The Cancer Moonshot Scholars program seeks to diversify the NCI R01 portfolio by boosting the number of applications submitted by early-stage investigators from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research workforce.

NCI has issued the funding opportunity announcement for the Cancer Moonshot Scholars program and is accepting applications until November 8.

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