NCI-designated Cancer Center

NCI-designated Cancer Centers are a group of 71 cancer research institutions in the United States supported by the National Cancer Institute.[1]


Three designations are recognized: Comprehensive Cancer Centers, Clinical Cancer Centers, and Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers. As of 2019, there are 51 Comprehensive Cancer Centers, 13 Clinical Cancer Centers, and 7 Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers. Almost all are associated with a university. Receiving the NCI-designation places cancer centers among the top 4 percent of the approximately 1,500 cancer centers in the United States.

The standards for Comprehensive Cancer Centers are the most restrictive of the types. These facilities must demonstrate expertise in each of three areas: laboratory, clinical, and behavioral and population-based research. Comprehensive Cancer Centers are expected to initiate and conduct early phase, innovative clinical trials and to participate in the NCI's cooperative groups by providing leadership and recruiting patients for trials. Comprehensive Cancer Centers must also conduct activities in outreach and education, and provide information on advances in healthcare for both healthcare professionals and the public. Comprehensive cancer centers may apply for up to $1.5 million per year from the Department of Health and Human Services.[2]

Clinical Cancer Centers generally conduct a combination of basic, population sciences, and clinical research, and are encouraged to stimulate collaborative research involving more than one field of study. Clinical cancer centers may apply for up to $1.4 million per year.

Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers conduct only laboratory research and do not provide patient treatment. Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers are more often affiliated with research institutes rather than universities. They are eligible to apply for up to $1.2 million per year.[2]

Independent or freestanding cancer centers are entities unto themselves and are not considered to be part of a larger institution or university. The center’s administration controls all space, appointments, and budgets. These institutions may have university affiliations, but they remain administratively and financially distinct.[3]

The NCI also supports Consortium Centers, wherein scientists and clinicians from multiple institutions enter into formal agreements to expand cancer research programs.[2]

These grants fund shared resources to further the goals of the National Cancer Institute. Some of these include the administration of cancer research programs, training activities, core facilities with technology shared by investigators, and clinical trial management services.[2]

In 2015, more than 353,000 new patients were enrolled in a clinical trial at an NCI-designated Cancer Center.[4]

Designation process

Cancer centers must renew their status with the NIH every 5 years. The NIH funds cancer centers through a P30 Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) mechanism.[2] To be eligible to apply, a cancer center must receive at least $10 million in cancer research funding annually. Preparation for these grant applications can be extensive. The most recent grant application prepared by MD Anderson Cancer Center took 24 months to prepare and ran to 2,963 pages.[5]

The NCI considers the certain characteristics essential to a cancer center, and requires that applications address the institutions' resources in the areas of: Physical Space, Organizational Capabilities, Transdisciplinary Collaboration and Coordination, Cancer Focus, Institutional Commitment, Center Director.[2]

List of centers

Comprehensive cancer centers

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Comer Children's Hospital at The University of Chicago
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Clinical Cancer Centers

Basic laboratory cancer centers


  1. "NCI-Designated Cancer Centers". National Cancer Institute.
  2. "PAR-17-095: Cancer Center Support Grants (CCSGs) for NCI-designated Cancer Centers (P30)".
  3. Simone, Joseph V. (1 December 2002). "Understanding Cancer Centers". Journal of Clinical Oncology. 20 (23): 4503–4507. doi:10.1200/jco.2002.07.574. PMID 12454105.
  4. "DT3 - OCCWebApp 2.1.0".
  5. "treat the immune system, attack the cancer". MD Anderson Cancer Center.
  6. "About Us". Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute.
  7. "About Our NCI Designation". Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Retrieved 2022-02-22.

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