Director's Note

This issue of CCR Milestones captures a few select highlights of this year's research activities.

Portrait of Tom Misteli, Ph.D.

The stated mission of the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR) is to improve the lives of cancer patients by solving important, challenging and neglected problems in cancer research and patient care. One of the clearest indicators of our impact is the number of new treatments we bring to patients. We are pleased that in the past year, no fewer than four new clinical approaches developed by CCR physician-scientists were designated as breakthrough therapies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and since 2018, three additional novel therapies were formally approved by the FDA.

The development of these innovative therapeutic strategies is fueled by our broad research program that spans the basic-translational-clinical spectrum as well as by our stable funding. As a result, every year produces a remarkable number of discoveries.

This issue of Milestones features some of the most impactful science conducted in the past year in CCR. These advances include new insights into how genomes are organized and how DNA and RNA function in cells, how cellular processes and signaling events function in healthy cells and how they are affected in cancer. Other major discoveries this year include how cancers become metastatic and what drives the proliferation of cancer cells.

As highlighted on the cover, this year has also deepened our appreciation of the extraordinarily heterogeneous nature of tumors and of individual cells. We have developed important new tools, including artificial intelligence approaches for diagnosis, clever chemical probes to investigate the metabolic changes in cancer and new clinical approaches to help fill unmet needs of patients who have had very limited treatment options.

The breadth of scientific areas covered by these milestone discoveries reflects the vibrant and diverse research program in CCR and highlights our strengths in many of the key areas of modern cancer research. We are well positioned to continue making groundbreaking discoveries and inventing new ways to treat patients. Our goal is to help patients; our research makes it possible.

Tom Misteli
NCI Center for Cancer Research