Global Health and Cancer Epidemiology

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Tram K. Lam, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Global Health Coordinator, Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program
lamt@mail.nih.gov

Overview

In 2018, the World Health OrganizationExternal Web Site Policy (WHO) reported there were 18.1 million new cancer cases  and 9.6 million cancer deaths globally. The global cancer burden is projected to increase to 29.5 million new cases and 16.5 million deaths by 2040.

The reasons for this increase are multi-factorial and reflects aging and growth of global populations along with socioeconomic development.  In addition, many emerging economies are experiencing a transition from cancers associated with infectious agents to cancers associated with westernized lifestyles.

The Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) supports NCI’s priorities in global health. The Program works with NCI’s Center for Global Health and other partners to support research for cancer control and prevention, globally.

Selected Projects

Examples of current collaborative projects related to cancer and global health in which EGRP staff are involved:

Global Occupational and Environmental Health (GEOHealth) Hubs

Many environmental and occupational exposures are found to be at higher levels in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) than in the United States and other high-income countries. Despite very high exposure to toxic, carcinogenic and other environmental influences around the world, there are few institutions with a deep capacity to study exposures or their interactions with genetic, immune system or population-based factors and their impact on health. In addition to being serious health concerns for host countries, the global scientific community has a pressing need to understand and study environmental and occupational health threats in LMICs where they are most acute.

The goals of the GEOHealth program are to strengthen environmental and occupational health-related research collaborations, accelerate scientific infrastructure development and enhance research training, create relevant advanced educational curricula, and support research needed to identify and design strategies for the reduction of consequences from environmental and occupational exposures.  Subsequently, these activities will inform nationally-relevant policy development in LMICs.

GEOHealth Hubs are supported by two coordinated linked awards to 1) a LMIC institution for research and 2) a U.S. institute to coordinate research training. Together they form the GEOHealth Network, a platform for coordinated environmental and occupational health research and research training activities.

EGRP provides support to GEOHealth Hubs in Peru and India. GEOHealth PeruExternal Web Site Policy and GEOHealth IndiaExternal Web Site Policy focus on air pollution in relation to chronic disease.

More information about GEOHealth is available through NIH’s Fogarty International Center.

U.S.- China Program for Biomedical Research Cooperation

Scientific cooperation between the United States and the People's Republic of China was initiated more than 30 years ago and has since expanded. The NIH Director and President of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2010, and subsequently, NIH and NSFC signed an agreement in December 2010 to develop a new U.S.-China Program for Biomedical Research Collaborative Research. Both NIH and NSFC have allocated funds to support joint activities. Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 saw an opportunity for NIH grantees to request administrative supplement support for active grants to enhance ongoing research efforts through collaborations with Chinese scientists under the U.S.-China Program for Biomedical Research Cooperation.

The Initiative, implemented in Fiscal Year 2013, seeks to stimulate collaborative basic, translational, applied and clinical  research between the United States (U.S.)- and Chinese-based researchers in the areas of allergy, immunology, and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and its co-morbidities and co-infections, cancer, mental health, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. NCI collaborates with NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Office of AIDS Research on this research grant initiative, which was issued in April 2012 and reissued in December 2015.

NCI led the effort in the 2019 reissuance of the Initiative with the additional participation of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. For the 2019 reissuance, the highlighted research areas included cancer, environmental health, heart disease, blood disorders, diseases of the eye and visual system, mental health, and neurological disorders.

NCI and other NIH Institutes and Centers led a team in developing a workshop with China on environmental pollution and cancer hosted by the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Guangzhou, China, in 2010. The workshop's purpose was to identify top emerging areas for research cooperation between China and the United States on cancer and environmental health. This joint workshop focused on identifying environmental factors that trigger pathogenesis of lung cancer, elucidating the carcinogenesis of pollutants, and developing novel therapeutic strategies for patients. Sessions were also devoted to NIH and CAS funding mechanisms that could potentially support joint funding of scientific projects. View the workshop report [PDF - 325 KB].

Learn more about NCI's China Cancer Programs.

Global Health Funding & Training Opportunities

Funding Opportunities

NCI-sponsored Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) related to global health and epidemiology include:

  • Strengthening Institutional Capacity to Conduct Global Cancer Research in Low- and Middle-Income Countries - expires June 25, 2021

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. View the full list of EGRP FOAs.

EGRP also encourages investigator-initiated grant applications related to global health and cancer.

NCI’s Center for Global Health website contains information about funding opportunities for global research and training.

Training Opportunities

NCI's Center for Global Health (CGH) website includes information about training opportunities for global research.

Global Health Research Resources

For more information on global health at the NCI and NIH, go to: