NCI-Supported Ruth L. Kirchstein Institutional (T32) National Research Service Award Programs for Transdisciplinary Training in the Chemical Biology of Cancer

Notice Number: NOT-CA-07-020

Key Dates
Release Date: July 25, 2007

Issued by
National Cancer Institute (NCI) (


Current NCI transdisciplinary Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Institutional (T32) Training Grants support numerous programs involving basic science departments and cancer centers (for the parent NIH T32 Program Announcement, see PA-06-468).  However, only two of these programs involve partnerships between departments of chemistry and cancer centers, and only one has as a focus on the chemical biology of cancer.

The purpose of this Notice is to announce that the NCI is welcoming applications for transdisciplinary Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Institutional (T32) Training Grants submitted by chemistry departments focused on the chemical biology of cancer and involving partnerships with NCI-designated cancer centers and, where available, NCI Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP) Centers.

These applications should propose programs that provide trainees exposure through required research experiences, seminars, and didactics to the continuum of cancer research from cancer biology through cancer prevention and control and cancer therapeutics.

The long-term objective is to develop a cadre of Ph.D. chemists who will be well trained to conduct research in the chemical biology of cancer in a transdisciplinary team research environment, translating their basic science research discoveries to cancer biology, cancer prevention, cancer control, and cancer therapeutics, with a long range goal of reducing cancer incidence, mortality, and suffering due to cancer.

This Notice is primarily targeted at chemistry departments that are not already components of NCI-designated cancer centers, but that are currently components of schools of liberal arts and sciences, chemical biology institutes, or other such independent institutions or organizations.  However, any chemistry department is eligible to submit an application in response to PA-06-468.

Applications will be reviewed and considered for funding with all other submitted T32 applications


In 2003, the NCI Director charged the NCI Division of Cancer Biology (DCB) with conducting a series of “Think Tanks” to assess the state of cancer biology research and to recommend to the NCI a research agenda that would accelerate progress in cancer research.  A detailed summary of the deliberations and recommendations of the Think Tanks has been published (  One of the think tanks was the “Cancer Etiology: Role of Exogenous and Endogenous Chemicals Think Tank,” also referred to as the carcinogenesis think tank.  Participants of the carcinogenesis think tank concluded that “a systems biology approach will be needed to deal with the complexities of the carcinogenesis process, focusing not on individual components but rather on networks that can be measured, modeled, and manipulated;” and that there was a need for biologists and chemists to work in close collaboration to maximize progress in the field.  Possible benefits of this broadened approach to carcinogenesis research were identified to be: 1) identification of biomarkers useful for assessing risk, for earlier diagnosis and for measuring therapeutic efficacy using newly developed technologies with extremely high sensitivity; 2) an understanding of how endogenous and exogenous chemical exposure impacts repair pathways, epigenetic changes, and protein and lipid function, and how they alter cancer susceptibility, which will lead to novel targets for prevention and therapy; and 3) development of better strategies for chemoprevention, exposure avoidance, and healthy lifestyles.  This new vision for research in chemical carcinogenesis is embodied in the broader and more contemporary field of chemical biology as specifically applied to cancer.  The think tank identified a number of impediments to achieving the stated objectives, including differences in scientific approach, the usual locations of participating departments in different schools within a university, and unenthusiastic student perceptions of the field of chemical carcinogenesis.  While acknowledging that chemistry and biology are being integrated at some institutions, that interdisciplinary programs exposing students to research in carcinogenesis have begun to be instituted, and that multi-disciplinary training grants funded by NCI have been effective in training and recruiting new people, the think tank felt that an increased effort is warranted.

In summary, to foster the development of future leaders in the field of chemical carcinogenesis (and chemical biology research in cancer), more effort is needed to attract promising graduate and post-doctoral students to this area.  Through this Notice, the NCI is informing the community of its interest in receiving applications in response to PA-06-468 that will contribute to the attainment of this goal.


Direct questions regarding this Notice to:

Cancer Training Branch
Office of Centers, Training and Resources
Office of the Director
National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20892-8346 (for U.S. Postal Service express or regular mail)
Rockville, MD 20852 (for non-USPS express or courier delivery)
Telephone: 301-496-8580
Fax: 301-402-4472

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