Many programs at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are focused on cancer research, and support for cancer- and treatment-related symptoms and toxicities crosses a number of National Institutes of Health (NIH) organizations. Martha Matocha, PhD, program director and team lead of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), and Ann O’Mara, PhD, RN, FAAN, program officer at NCI, provided tips and opportunities for nurses and how they can conduct or participate in cancer research programs during a session at the 43rd Annual Congress in Washington, DC.

Matocha began by discussing NINR’s focus of promoting and improving the health of individuals, families, and communities, as well as supporting and conducting clinical and basic research and research training on health and illness at all stages of life. NINR also promotes research careers for nurse scientists, including individual and institutional pre- and postdoctoral research fellowships, career development awards, career opportunities, and NINR intramural and extramural programs.

The NINR Division of Intramural Research is focused on discovering the underlying biologic and behavioral mechanisms of a range of symptoms, how they affect patients, and patient responses to interventions. For nurses, NINR offers training and career development opportunities, including:

  • Summer Genetics Institute: a one-month intensive with lectures and hands-on laboratory training that is open to students, faculty, and clinicians
  • Methodologies Boot Camp: a series of one-week intensive research training courses that feature lectures and discussions in methodologies that are open to graduate students, faculty, and clinicians.
  • Graduate Partnership Program: a doctoral fellowship training program that coordinates training and funding for PhD students attending nursing school
  • Summer intern program
  • Postdoctoral fellowships

Matocha also provided guidance for intramural training and materials.

Nurses seeking NIH funding should contact the NINR program director with a one- to two-page concept for research that includes the importance of the topic, how the research will advance the field or improve clinical practice, research question and outcome measures, rationale for the approach, and a list of team members and their roles, Matocha explained.

She also advised attendees to visit the NIH Grants and Funding website to learn more about these opportunities.

O’Mara spoke about NCI’s support for research projects in cancer control and how the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCP) focuses on reducing the risk, incidence, and deaths from cancer, as well as enhancing the quality of life for those with cancer and survivors.

One component of that work includes understanding and mitigating acute morbidities of cancer and its treatment by conducting longitudinal cohort studies, interventional studies, and preclinical models. DCP looks for studies that assess a variety of issues, such as disease- and treatment-related pain, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, neurocognitive issues, and other toxicities. She said that most of the study funding submissions that DCP receives focus on fatigue, neurocognitive change, pain, and symptom clusters.