Holden's National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designation

NCI comprehensive cancer center designation recognizes that Holden provides Iowans with access to a range of cancer treatment opportunities that few other U.S. cancer centers can offer, including a vast array of clinical trials of some of the newest therapies.

A National Leader in Patient-Focused Cancer Research

Since 2000, Holden has earned NCI designation, and as of 2018, Holden is one of fewer than 50 U.S. cancer centers holding NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center status. This prestigious group of cancer centers serves as the backbone of the nation’s cancer-research efforts. Each member must be able to conduct cutting-edge scientific research and convert those laboratory findings into innovative therapies for patients in the real world—not just for a few types of cancer, but across the spectrum, from the most common to the rarest types of cancer.

In partnership with the rest of this elite group of comprehensive cancer centers, Holden puts a strong emphasis on creating and conducting clinical trials and encouraging its scientists to pursue many different types of research and provide national leadership to other research groups, all while serving its own community through education, training, and outreach.

An emerging body of evidence sheds favorable light on the assertion that treatment at a comprehensive cancer center may offer patients better chances for long-term survival.

For examples, see these published research articles:

The University of Iowa Difference

As Iowa’s only comprehensive cancer center, Holden is home to a large group of researchers who take many different approaches to understanding and advancing the science of cancer treatment and prevention. And those researchers collaborate—often in real time—with oncologists who specialize on specific types of cancer and are on the front lines of cancer care, treating patients in the clinic.

What does Holden’s comprehensive designation mean to Iowans?

  • Collaboration across campus and across the nation: Scientists, physicians, nurses, and other professionals working at Holden team up with experts at other NCI-designated cancer centers to develop new advances in cancer care.
  • More national funding for research: Over the past five years, Holden received more than $70 million in total funding from the NCI to support cutting-edge research. When combined with private donations and other grants, that level of support helps to draw the world’s best cancer researchers and physicians to our center.
  • Training the next generation: Holden trains future cancer physicians and scientists who work side by side with our faculty in both research and patient care.
  • Providing care for more communities and more Iowans: Holden offers expertise and excellence in the care of patients and for cancer-prevention efforts across the state.

For Iowa and the World

What is the impact of Holden’s research efforts on the larger fight against cancer? 

  • A Holden discovery may lead to a new approach to enhancing the ability of the immune system to recognize and reject cancer.
  • A Holden discovery led to clinical trials of a new vaccine to treat prostate cancer.
  • A Holden researcher’s study of radon gas, a cause of lung cancer, is helping agencies across the country develop an action plan.
  • Holden was a major contributor to a study that showed that using CT scans to detect lung cancer can reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent.

Learn more about the NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Program.