Director's Message: NCI Support of Continuing Cancer Research, COVID-19 Related Projects

Last week, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) advisory meeting was focused on how the NCI is involved in the attack against COVID-19 while maintaining a commitment to cancer research and cancer care. This was the first virtual Joint Meeting (see presentation links) of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA) and the National Cancer Advisory Board. The decision to open this meeting to the general public shows a commitment to information-sharing and transparency by NCI Director Ned Sharpless. The links provide access to three of the presentations that outline the benefits to research funding to NIH by Congress to focus on COVID-19 and interesting cysteine-like tether technology developed at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) that is being applied to COVID protein inhibition. They are worth a read.

Other examples include providing information for people with cancer through the Cancer Information Service, pivoting some cancer research activities to COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 research and advocating for cancer researchers and providing them with means to share information and continue their research. National cancer registries are collecting data on the impact of COVID infection.

On Friday, April 10, the NCI released a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): National Cancer Institute Announcement Regarding Availability of Urgent Competitive Revision and Administrative Supplements on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)(NOT-CA-20-042).

Possible research interests include, but are not limited to, the following areas focused on the intersection of cancer research and infection with SARS-CoV-2 or illness associated with COVID-19 disease:

  • Fundamental biological processes related to cancer such as cell growth, transformation, invasion, and metastasis that are affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 disease;
  • Fundamental biological processes related to SARS-CoV-2 virology and infection, especially how it is affected by cancer cells;
  • Population-level determinants of occurrence and outcomes in cancer patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 disease;
  • Impact on cancer related care delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Impact of infection with SARS-CoV-2 on cancer prevention, early detection, screening, diagnosis, and treatment planning;
  • Assessment of COVID-19 disease on the efficacy of anticancer agents, radiation treatments, surgical methods, and all other cancer treatment modalities;
  • Repurposing of cancer therapeutics for treatment of patients with COVID-19 disease;
  • Potential for differential responses among diverse cancer patient populations to SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 disease.
  • Applications may request funds for the collection of samples from human cancer cohorts of individuals with COVID-19 disease or evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and/or development of novel cancer model systems to expose animals and cells to SARS-CoV-2.

If you have an eligible grant (P01, P30, P50, R00, R01, R33, R35, R37, U01, U19, U24, U54) and want to review project concepts, please contact me ( or John Pounardjian ( Cancer Center leadership will be glad to review applications prior to submission.

Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center