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NCI Funds Centers of Excellence in Communications

By Kelly Blake

The National Cancer Institute on June 25 announced plans to fund four Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research (CECCR). The CECCR initiative is the centerpiece of NCI's Extraordinary Opportunity in Cancer Communications (EOCC), a broad initiative that supports research and outreach aimed at increasing the knowledge about, tools for, access to, and use of cancer communications by the public, patients, survivors and health professionals. The goal of the EOCC is to understand and apply the most effective communications approaches to maximize access to and use of cancer information by all who need it. The EOCC has been the launching pad for initiatives such as NCI's Health Information National Trends Survey and projects to bridge the "digital divide."

"The launch of the $40 million CECCR initiative," said Dr. Robert Croyle, director of NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, "exemplifies NCI's leadership role as one of the nation's primary supporters of cutting-edge scientific research on health communication." The four centers' projects will produce new knowledge about and techniques for communicating complex health information to the public, with the potential for achieving reductions in the U.S. cancer burden.

At the ceremony announcing the new NCI centers are (from l) principal investigators Dr. David Gustafson and Dr. Victor Strecher, who greet NCI's Dr. Robert Croyle and Dr. Alan Rabson.

The CECCR initiative solicited applications for specialized center (P50) grants that include three or more individual, hypothesis-driven research projects, small pilot projects and a program for training cancer communication scientists. After receiving approval in June 2003 from the national cancer advisory board, NCI announced that each of the four awarded centers will receive $10 million over 5 years.

The centers are: the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, St. Louis University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Projects will focus on topics such as information-seeking related to prostate, breast and colorectal cancers; decision aids concerning tamoxifen use among women at high risk for breast cancer; and development and evaluation of an intervention to increase fruit and vegetable intake among African Americans.

It is expected that the centers' efforts will result in new and improved theories, methods, communication tools and interventions. The centers also will provide training for students and young investigators in multidisciplinary team environments. For more information visit

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