New NIH Program for Physical Science-Oncology Centers

December 15, 2008

The following highlights a new program offered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Physical scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are the intended targets of a new research centers program -- the Physical Science-Oncology Centers. The National Cancer Institute is committing $15 to $21 million in total costs for FY 2009, anticipating that four to six new centers will be established. Applications are due March 13, 2009, and letters of intent on February 13. As stated in the Request for Applications (RFA) issued earlier this week, expert teams from the physics, cancer biology, physical chemistry, mathematics, and engineering communities will "assemble and develop the infrastructure, capabilities, research programs, and the network required to enable team research converging the physical sciences with cancer biology". While applications are expected to include experienced researchers from the biological and/or clinical sciences, only scientists with formal training and expertise in the physical sciences and/or engineering can serve as principal investigator.

Four themes are highlighted:

Understanding the physical laws and principles of cancer;

Exploring and understanding evolution and evolutionary theory in cancer from a physics perspective;

Understanding the coding, decoding, transfer, and translation of information in cancer;

Deconvoluting the complexity of cancer.

A fuller description of the types of questions and areas that projects could address are included in the RFA posted at (pages 3 through 6).

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