Citizen Science and the Future of Cancer Research

nci-coverThe National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. They are a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that comprise the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In 2016, The National Cancer Institute launched the Cancer Research Ideas crowdsourcing website to enable the research community and the public to submit ideas on how best to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Submissions were reviewed weekly by the BRP as they developed the scientific direction of the Cancer Moonshot (an initiative that called for a decade’s worth of cancer research progress in just five years).

Ideas were submitted in eight categories: cancer prevention and early detection, clinical trials, data sharing, pediatric cancer, tumor evolution and progression, implementation science, immunology and prevention, and other exceptional opportunities. A Blue Ribbon Panel reviewed the submissions both to ensure that their priorities aligned with those of the broader community and to see what ideas we might be missing.

The ideas informed the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel’s final report that organized research into ten categories. Those categories were:

  1. Establish a network for direct patient involvement
  2. Create a translational science network devoted exclusively to immunotherapy
  3. Develop ways to overcome resistance to therapy
  4. Build a national cancer data ecosystem
  5. Intensify research on the major drivers of childhood cancers
  6. Minimize cancer treatment’s debilitating side effects
  7. Expand use of proven prevention and early detection strategies
  8. Mine past patient data to predict future patient outcomes
  9. Develop a 3D cancer atlas
  10. Develop new cancer technologies

To learn more about how the National Cancer Institute utilized IdeaScale to organize research, read the full case study here.

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