What is NCI Designation?

The UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute aspires to apply for National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designation. This prestigious designation is awarded through a highly competitive assessment process in which cancer centers must demonstrate outstanding depth and breadth of research in three areas: basic laboratory research, patient/clinical research and population-based research.

The NCI Cancer Centers Program is one of the anchors of the nation’s cancer research effort. There are 70 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers, located in 36 states and the District of Columbia, that form the backbone of NCI’s programs for studying and controlling cancer. At any given time, hundreds of research studies are underway at the cancer centers, ranging from basic laboratory research to clinical assessments of new treatments. Many of these studies are collaborative and may involve several cancer centers, as well as other partners in industry and the community.

Roadmap to NCI Designation for UAMS

Download a PDF of the roadmap the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute needs to complete in order to achieve National Cancer Institute Designation.

NCI-Designated Cancer Centers deliver cutting-edge cancer treatments to patients in communities across the United States. Most of the NCI-Designated Cancer Centers are affiliated with university medical centers, although several are freestanding centers that engage only in cancer research.

The NCI-Designated Cancer Centers are recognized for their scientific leadership, resources, and the depth and breadth of their research in basic, clinical, and/or population science. Comprehensive Cancer Centers demonstrate an added depth and breadth of research, as well as substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas. Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers conduct only laboratory research and do not provide patient treatment. There are 14 Cancer Centers, 49 Comprehensive Cancer Centers, and seven Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers.

The Burden of Cancer in Arkansas

The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute reports about 150,000 patient visits each year. A majority of patients come from throughout Arkansas and the southern region of the United States.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 44 Arkansans a day were diagnosed with cancer in 2018, and 6,910 died of the disease.

The four types of cancer with significantly high annual diagnosis rates in Arkansas are:

  • Lung and bronchus:         2,720
  • Breast:                               2,160
  • Prostate:                            1,260
  • Colon and rectal:              1,370

Why the Cancer Centers Program is Important to Cancer Research

The NCI grant funding to the cancer centers supports shared research resources, provides developmental funds to advance scientific goals, and fosters cancer programs that draw investigators from different disciplines together. In addition, individual cancer center investigators are highly successful at obtaining research funding from NCI and other funding agencies and organizations. Indeed, research proposals from cancer center investigators account for about three-quarters of the successful investigator-initiated grants that are awarded by NCI.

The centers also offer training for scientists, physicians, surgeons and other professionals seeking specialized training or board certification in cancer-related disciplines.

Why NCI Designation is Important to the People of Arkansas

NCI Designation will provide our patients and the citizens of Arkansas vital options:

  • Improved access to clinical trials and new therapies unavailable elsewhere in the state
  • Creation of new, high-paying health care jobs, both in patient care and research arenas
  • Expanded services through greater access to public and private research grants and other funding
  • Increased visibility and research collaboration opportunities with leading national and international cancer treatment teams
  • Expansion of Arkansas as a health care destination through national recognition as a top-tier cancer center

The cancer centers develop and translate scientific knowledge from promising laboratory discoveries into new treatments for cancer patients. Many cancer centers are located in communities with special needs and specific populations.

For example, Arkansas has a largely rural population with specific needs related to their ability to access care and early prevention screenings. Arkansas also reports a significant number of lung cancer cases each year that impact both the state’s economy and the lives of individual families on a daily basis.

Designated cancer centers not only disseminate evidence-based findings into communities that can benefit from their research findings, but the centers can also, through the experience of working with those patients, help inform national research and treatment priorities.

Each year, approximately 250,000 patients receive their cancer diagnosis at an NCI-Designated Cancer Center. An even larger number of patients are treated for cancer at these centers each year, and thousands of patients are enrolled in cancer clinical trials at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. The centers also provide public education and outreach programs on cancer prevention and screening, with special attention to the needs of underserved populations, such as those in Arkansas’ Delta region.

The rapid pace of discovery and the improved cancer treatments that the NCI-Designated Cancer Centers have helped pioneer have contributed substantially to the increase in the number of cancer survivors in the United States, as well as to the quality of their lives.