Marking her first year at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Katrina Goddard, PhD, director of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), outlined a foundation of future research for DCCPS, priority research areas, and the impact of research on diverse populations in a December 2022 interview.

To reduce the burden of cancer for all populations and achieve health equity, Goddard said that DCCPS research will focus on areas with persistent poverty and groups that experience food or housing insecurity, include diverse populations so that results are meaningful and fully representative, and create delivery and implementation strategies to address various barriers.

Regarding climate change, Goddard said, “Some of the research we conduct is aimed at simply understanding what the impacts are on cancer and care delivery. And then the second piece is developing approaches that can lessen those impacts, such as changing how cancer care is organized or coordinated, or how it is delivered, in a way that makes it more resilient to the effects of climate change.”

On the digital health front, Goddard said that DCCPS funded an initiative in August 2022 through the Cancer Moonshot initiative to gather evidence about the use of telehealth to deliver cancer care. Despite telehealth’s increased popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Goddard said that evidence for its impact on improving patient convenience and satisfaction with care, as well as its influence on the quality of care and patient safety, has been lagging.

DCCPS’s overall “vision is to have a multilevel approach that does not focus solely on individuals but also includes communities, families, and society as a whole in reducing the impact of cancer in all segments of the U.S. population,” Goddard said. “That includes focusing on things like policies or the human-made spaces where people live, work, exercise, and go to school that can support people in leading a healthy life.”