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National Institutes of Health: National Cancer Institute: Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

Overview & History


As NCI’s bridge to public health research, practice, and policy, the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) plays a unique role in reducing the burden of cancer in America. DCCPS, an extramural division, has the lead responsibility at NCI for supporting research in surveillance, epidemiology, health services, behavioral science, and cancer survivorship. The division also plays a central role within the federal government as a source of expertise and evidence on issues such as the quality of cancer care, the economic burden of cancer, geographic information systems, statistical methods, communication science, comparative effectiveness research, obesity and tobacco control, and the translation of research into practice. As a result, DCCPS is what many have referred to as a "hybrid" division — one that funds a large portfolio of grants and contracts, but also conducts original research to inform public health policy.

The diverse science funded and conducted by DCCPS is characterized by the varied and complex expertise and backgrounds of the division’s scientific staff. Given the focus on cancer control, it comes as no surprise that the disciplines of epidemiology and biostatistics are well represented. In addition, DCCPS has made a special effort to recruit experts in disciplines such as communication, anthropology, outcomes research, psychometrics, medical genetics, health psychology, economics, social work, policy analysis, geography, and family medicine—all disciplines that have been historically underrepresented at NCI. This reflects an overarching philosophy of science that guides the division’s planning and priority setting: the belief that scientific progress in the 21st century will depend on the transdisciplinary integration of research methods, models, and levels of analysis.


The Cancer Control Program Review Group was convened in 1996 by NCI’s director and the chair of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors to assess the scope of NCI’s cancer control research program and recommend changes aimed at accelerating reductions in the nation’s cancer burden. Realizing that the scope of cancer control reflects the concurrent needs of society and developments in scientific knowledge, the group identified several important trends to which NCI’s research needed to be responsive. These trends included the increasing age and diversity of the population, new discoveries in genetics, the revolution in information technology, and the restructuring of the health care delivery system.

In 1997, the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences was established to enhance NCI’s ability to alleviate the burden of cancer through research in epidemiology, behavioral sciences, health services, surveillance, and cancer survivorship. Since that time, the division has grown and evolved into the nation’s model for cancer control research. The division aims to generate basic knowledge about how to monitor and change individual and collective behavior, and to ensure that knowledge is translated into practice and policy rapidly, effectively, and efficiently.