Request for Information (RFI): Studying the Roles of Cancer Stem Cells in Cancer Health Disparities

Notice Number: NOT-CA-10-001

Key Dates
Release Date: October 8, 2009
Response Date: December 31, 2009

Issued by
National Cancer Institute (NCI), (

This Request for Information (RFI) is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information. 

Purpose and Objectives

The NCI is soliciting input from the scientific community and the general public regarding the significance of studying the roles of cancer stem cells in cancer health disparities and potential priority areas/specific ideas for such studies.  In this idea-gathering phase, suggestions are also sought from scientist consultants as well as other NIH Institutes and Centers. This RFI provides an opportunity for respondents to submit their own ideas.


Numerous studies have indicated that almost all the major human cancer types (i.e., those of breast, brain, colon, head, neck, liver, ovarian, pancreas, prostate, and leukemia) may involve self-renewing cells with the attributes of stem cells or progenitor cells that are referred to as cancer stem cells (CSCs; also called tumor initiating cells). Given the ability of CSCs to self-renew, incomplete elimination of these cells by anticancer therapies may allow for or lead to tumor recurrences in cancer patients.

Cancer health disparities, which are defined as differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of cancer between different peoples, exist among different population groups in the United States.  While substantial efforts have been invested in the study of causes of cancer health disparities at both biological and extra-biological levels, very little research has been conducted to explore the roles of CSCs as possible contributing factors in cancer health disparities.  With increasing evidence in support of a cancer stem cell hypothesis of carcinogenesis, it becomes critically important to understand the roles of CSCs in cancer health disparities among different racial/ethnic groups.  Differences at the level of cancer stem cells may provide an attractive cellular/molecular basis to account for some of the disparities across different populations of cancer patients. For example, such differences could possibly explain why some populations have more aggressive cancer than other, or higher rates of disease recurrence, resistance to treatment, and metastasis, etc.

Given these potentially excellent scientific opportunities, efforts to study cancer stem cells in the context of health disparities are highly warranted.  The NCI anticipates the need for such research over the next 5 to 10 years.  Conceivably, these efforts could enhance our basic understanding of disparities as related to CSC mechanism.  They could also inspire novel strategies for diagnoses and therapies that are based on targeting the cancer stem cells and/or their markers.  Advances in both areas would be important contributions to achieving the goals of reducing and eliminating cancer health disparities.

Information Requested

NCI seeks novel ideas that will focus on basic research that eventually accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries in cancer stem cells to reduce cancer health disparities.  The information gathered will be used for developing research opportunity for extramural investigators to promote and advance the research on cancer stem cells and cancer health disparities.  


Responses will be accepted through December 31, 2009. Individuals, groups, and organizations interested in responding are invited to submit their idea(s) regarding specific relevant research problem(s) related to cancer stem cells in health disparities as well as their suggestions as to how this (these) problem(s) might be addressed. Responses should be limited to three pages and marked with this RFI identifier, NOT-CA-10-001. Responses are preferred in electronic format and can be e-mailed to

If you are willing to do so, please indicate your primary affiliation/role from the categories listed below:

Small Business;
Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry;
Federal Government;
State Government;
Healthcare Professional;
Patient Advocacy Group; and
Other (briefly define).

Respondents will receive an automated email confirmation acknowledging receipt of their response, but will not receive individualized feedback.

Responses may be anonymous.  All individual responses will remain confidential.  Any identifiers (e.g., names, institutions, e-mail addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled.  Only the processed, anonymized results will be shared internally with program and scientific working groups convened by the NCI, as appropriate.  Nonetheless, no proprietary information should be submitted.


Inquiries regarding this RFI may be directed to:

Ming Zhao, Ph.D.
Disparities Research Branch
Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 602
Rockville, MD 20852
Telephone: (301) 594-2092
Fax: (301) 435-9225

Sudhir Srivastava, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Cancer Biomarkers Research Group
National Cancer Institute
6130 Executive Boulevard, EPN Suite 3142
Bethesda, MD 20892-7362
Telephone: 301-435-1594
Fax: 301-402-8990

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