by Douglas Lowy, M.D.
Earlier today, I presented NCI’s newly released Annual Plan & Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 to the National Cancer Advisory Board. As in years past, the plan describes areas of investment that support cutting-edge research, as well as strengthen the cancer research infrastructure to enable innovation and training of a diverse and talented workforce.
Each year, NCI prepares a new plan, which includes the institute’s professional judgement on the funding required to make the most rapid progress against cancer, and presents it to Congress and the White House to inform their budget planning and priority setting.
I encourage you to read the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 plan and, in particular, to learn about the three emerging areas that it highlights—the immune system and microbiome, artificial intelligence, and implementation science—and their role in helping to prevent cancer and improve the outcomes for patients who develop it.
The budget proposal in the FY 2021 plan directly responds to the challenges and opportunities NCI is witnessing during this time of unprecedented enthusiasm, throughout the cancer community, for recent progress and enormous potential for future advances. We are benefiting from an explosion of new research ideas, as reflected in a 50% increase in grant applications over the past 5 years, along with an extraordinary number of new cancer drug approvals, which offer more options and hope to patients.
Because investigator-initiated research underpins so much of our progress, NCI remains committed in its support for this critical component of the cancer research enterprise. We must continue to fuel discoveries, enable creative minds to focus on our most intractable problems, and provide additional opportunities to translate knowledge into better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.
The American public has become more engaged and enthusiastic as they learn about the important recent advances being made against cancer. We have a responsibility to build on our past successes and intensify our pursuit of better outcomes for patients and their loved ones. The NCI Annual Plan & Budget Proposal for FY 2021 explains how NCI believes we can best pursue that goal together.