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Welcome to the Translational Research Program (TRP)

The Translational Research Program (TRP) is committed to reducing cancer incidence and mortality and improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients. TRP uses advances in basic sciences to develop new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by fostering interdisciplinary investigations and coordinating the resources of NCI with those of academia, industry, and nonprofit organizations and foundations.

These objectives are accomplished by:

  • Supporting the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) to translate novel scientific discoveries into clinical testing, including early-phase clinical trials
  • Encouraging a multidirectional approach to translational research
  • Promoting research in high incidence as well as rare cancers
  • Facilitating the cross-fertilization of ideas, leveraging resources, and ensuring access of resources to projects and investigators to bring discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic in the most efficient manner
  • Supporting additional grant mechanisms for translational research

TRP is the home of the SPOREs — the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence - a cornerstone of NCI's efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. SPORE grants involve both basic and clinical/applied scientists working together and support projects that will result in new and diverse approaches to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of human cancers.

Each SPORE is focused on a specific organ site, such as breast or lung cancer, a group of highly related cancers, such as gastrointestinal cancers and sarcomas, or a common pathway or theme that ties together the cancers under study. SPOREs are designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings, as well as to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer or in populations at risk for cancer. SPOREs are required to reach a human end-point within the 5-year funding period. Almost 20 organ sites, systems, and pathway-specific themes are represented in the SPORE portfolio, including: bladder, brain, breast, cervical, endometrial, gastrointestinal, head and neck, liver, kidney, leukemia, lung, lymphoma, myeloma, neuroendocrine, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, sarcoma, and skin.

The program is open to additional organ system or pathway-related translational research, including research in less common cancers. The objective for all SPOREs is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and to improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients. SPOREs encourage the advice of patient advocates in SPORE activities. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact TRP Officials for advice prior to submission. The current Program Announcement for submitting applications can be found here.

TRP currently uses the P50 (and the U54) funding mechanism for the SPORE program. In 2019, there were 54 funded SPOREs, covering 20 organ sites and systems, including one signaling pathway-focused grant. Fifty-three grants used the P50 mechanism, and the remaining grant was funded through a U54. In addition, TRP staff currently oversee a relatively smaller number of R21, R01, and R50 translational research grants.

The breakdown of 2021 grants across organ sites and thematic SPOREs can be found here.

In addition to SPOREs, TRP also manages grants that are part of special initiatives, such as the Provocative Questions Initiative, when those grants are translational and are connected to the themes of currently funded SPOREs; the Recalcitrant Cancer Act initiatives; and R50 Research Specialist Career Awards where the applicant is integral to the work of a funded SPORE.

TRP is also involved in the following DCTD Activities:

Future Directions

Following are descriptions of TRP initiatives planned for future years:

  • Encourage research that will enable precision medicine approaches, such as genomic and proteomic-based diagnostic technologies, that will allow cancer patients with specific molecular alterations to receive the most effective treatments
  • Increase translational cancer research in organ sites that are underrepresented in the NCI portfolio: pancreas, bladder, sarcoma, and head and neck
  • Increase research in organ sites that represent recalcitrant cancers (not represented above) where additional translational research is warranted
  • Advance studies on the dynamic relationship between tumors and cells/mediators in the microenvironment to translational science to make a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, particularly in the area of immunotherapy
  • Advance the goals of translational research by facilitating collaborations between SPOREs and other NCI-funded mechanisms such that discoveries can move quickly and seamlessly along pathways from the laboratory to Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials and beyond, with strong correlative study support.

NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD)

In partnership with NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD), the TRP supports feasibility and planning activities (P20) to develop translational research programs focused on cancer health disparities research with the expectation that the research programs will become competitive for a full Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) awards.

TRP Priorities

Current priorities include translational research in:

  • Cancer health disparities 
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Pediatric cancers 

SPOREs by Organ Location

Cancer Health Disparities Cancer Health Disparities Epigenetics Epigenetics Bladder Brain Breast Gastrointestinal (GI) Head and Neck Hyperactive RAS Kidney Leukemia Hepatobiliary Lung Lymphoma Myeloma Neuroendocrine Tumors Pancreatic Skin Sarcoma Cervical Endometrial Ovarian Bladder Brain Breast Gastrointestinal (GI) Head and Neck Leukemia Hepatobliary Hyperactive RAS Kidney Lung Lymphoma Myeloma Neuroendocrine Tumors Pancreatic Prostate Sarcoma Skin Male Head and Chest Female Head and Chest Female Abdomen Male Abdomen Male Body Female Body