Skip to Content
U.S. National Institutes of Health
Cancer Diagnosis Program Cancer Imaging Program Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program Developmental Therapeutics Program Radiation Research Program Translational Research Program Biometric Research Branch Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Last Updated: 12/02/2014


Drug Discovery and Development Initiative

National Cooperative Drug Discovery Groups Program—for Academics and Industry


Mary K. Wolpert, Ph.D.

DTP’s National Cooperative Drug Discovery Groups (NCDDG) program, initiated in 1983, partners NCI-funded academic researchers with private-sector organizations to fund cooperative agreements (U19s) in support of a multidisciplinary approach to the discovery of new, rationally based and natural source-derived anticancer treatments and strategies.

This program is one of the first in which NCI began partnering with private industry. The NCDDG program has assisted in the development of four FDA-approved anticancer agents: topotecan (NSC 609699); polifeprosan 20 with carmustine implant, (NSC 714372); denileukin diftitox (NSC 733971); and cetuximab, (NSC 714692). The Biological Resources Branch has been instrumental in the production of vaccines and other biologic agents, especially for NCDDGs that lacked a major industrial partner.

Although NCDDG projects do not support clinical trials, timely clinical evaluation of agents discovered through NCDDGs is encouraged. Currently, NCI funds nine groups. Of the current awardees, the NCDDG headed by Dr. Garth Powis, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been successful in developing PX-478, a HIF-1 alpha inhibitor, and bringing it to clinical testing. Additionally, a PI3 kinase inhibitor, which was derived from the natural product wortmannin, is in late stage preclinical development and will likely enter clinical testing in 2008.

No new applications for this program are being accepted at this time.