Chemical and Physical Exposures


Humans are exposed to a wide variety of chemical and physical agents throughout the course of their lives. These agents can have profound effects on human health including cancer. A growing number of chemical and physical agents have been classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on CancerExternal Web Site Policy and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program.

The complex nature of human exposures to chemical and physical agents presents a challenge to research in this field. This complexity can be attributed, in part, to the numerous mixtures in the environment, fluctuations in dose over time, and different routes of exposure. Gaps remain in our understanding of the mechanisms of carcinogenesis resulting from chemical and physical exposures, including the assessment and impact of exposures throughout biologically-relevant time periods and life stages. In addition, the health effects of exposures to the multitudes of chemical mixtures humans experience are poorly understood. Advancements in methodologies to investigate complex, dynamic exposures throughout human life are providing new opportunities to address these research gaps.

NCI’s Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program is committed to supporting the study of chemical and physical agents, their contribution and effects on cancer risk, and the advancement of methodological development to improve these efforts.

Funding Opportunities

NCI is currently sponsoring the following Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and Notice of Special Interests (NOSIs) for chemical and physical exposure research:

  • Use of Biological Information to Understand How the Interplay of Environmental Exposures and Genes Influences Cancer Risk – expires January 8, 2022
  • Geospatial Approaches in Cancer Control and Population Sciences – expires January 8, 2022

EGRP intends to publish funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for new cohorts to assess environmental exposures and cancer risk (see NOT-CA-20-086) and a coordinating center for these cohorts (see NOT-CA-20-091). The estimated publication date for these FOAs is November 1, 2020.

EGRP joins with other NCI Divisions, Offices, and Centers and other Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund grant applications submitted in response to FOAs and NOSIs. View the full list of cancer control research funding opportunities.

For investigators who want to add environmental exposures to their studies of human health, the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) Program provides access to laboratory and data analysis services. NCI grantees interested in using these resources should visit Web Site Policy.

EGRP also encourages investigator-initiated grant applications on topics related to chemical and physical exposures.

  • NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) – expires May 8, 2023
  • Modular R01s in Cancer Control and Population Sciences (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) – expires March 9, 2021
  • Exploratory Grants in Cancer Epidemiology (R21 Clinical Trial Optional) – expires October 9, 2021
  • NCI Small Grants Program for Cancer Research for Years 2020, 2021, and 2022 (NCI Omnibus R03 Clinical Trial Optional) – expires January 8, 2023

Selected Projects

Examples of current and past collaborative projects related to chemical and physical exposures in which EGRP staff are involved:

Related Research Resources

Related Workshops and Meetings

Selected EGRP Publications on Chemical and Physical Exposures