National Cancer Institute Designation

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) cancer centers are the centerpiece to our nation’s efforts to fight cancer. These cancer centers are a major source of discovery about the nature of cancer and how to use those discoveries to develop better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes its cancer centers this way: "An excellent cancer center is a local, regional, and national resource, directly serving its own community and through the knowledge it creates, the world at large."

Joining this group puts you in elite company. But NCI offers its highest recognition - "comprehensive" to even fewer of the nation’s cancer centers. "Comprehensive" recognition is reserved for cancer centers that have depth and breadth greater than other cancer centers. Comprehensive cancer centers offer many different types of research and the ability to create and conduct clinical trials. They provide national leadership to research groups. These same cancer centers offer the communities they serve education, training, outreach and a way of sharing their knowledge through education and outreach.

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at The University of Iowa has been renewed (2011) as one of these 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the country. What does this mean to Iowans?

  • Scientists, physicians, nurses and other professionals working at Holden communicate regularly with experts at other NCI Designated Cancer Centers to discuss new advances in cancer care.
  • Holden will receive $11.5 million over five years to support cutting-edge research, which, when combined with support from private donations and other grants, will help draw the world's best cancer researchers and physicians to our Center.
  • Holden is better able to train future cancer physicians and scientists.
  • Holden can offer expertise and excellence in the care of patients and for cancer prevention efforts across the state.

How has Holden’s research efforts impacted cancer efforts? Here is a small sample.

  • A Holden discovery is being looked at as a possible new therapy to treat B-cell lymphoma.
  • A Holden discovery has led to a new vaccine currently in clinical trial to treat and prevent prostate cancer.
  • A Holden researcher’s studies about radon gas are now being used by a number of agencies in the US as they develop a nationwide action plan.
  • Holden was a major contributor to the NLST study that showed using CT scans to detect lung cancer can reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent.

For more information about the NCI Centers Program please visit the NCI website.

If you have a question about cancer, the Cancer Resource Center, a free service provided by Holden, may be able to help. Email