U.S. National Cancer Institute
Marine Collections Program

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CRRF has had the prestigious U. S. National Cancer Institute's (NCI) shallow water marine collections contract since 1992. Palau is home base for the program which ranges throughout the Indo-Pacific region. This is part of a world-wide effort by NCI to find new treatments for cancer and AIDS from organisms in nature. Through this program Palau has become the most thoroughly sampled region for potential anti-cancer drugs, and this work has been extended to many other areas of Micronesia over the years. This NCI work has resulted in CRRF arriving at an unequalled understanding of marine species diversity, ecology and biogeography of selected invertebrates from throughout the Micronesian region.

The Invertebrate Reference Collection at CRRF contains ~10,000 lots

Collecting shallow-water marine organisms for NCI


CRRF works only for the NCI, which has in place state of the art agreements to protect the biodiversity rights of countries where we work. The NCI protections for countries' economic and biodiversity rights include 1) full collaboration with countries on collection activities, 2) full sharing of all data, photographs, and other information with source country agencies, 3) participation whenever possible of the host country scientists at NCI laboratories in the analytical and developmental work on any drug candidates and 4) full disclosure of testing results on a regular basis to collaborating countries. No commercial development of any potential drug would occur without the negotiation of a royalty and licensing agreement satisfactory to the source country government. If any traditional knowlege is utilized in discovering possible drug candidates, that contribution is recognized and enters into any negotiations between the NCI and source countries. In reality, while traditional healers often have vaulable information related to medicinal terrestrial plants, there is no remotely equivalent information for marine organisms, particuarly those occuring the deeper waters. In the case of CRRF, we are faced with choosing those species for screening based solely on our own knowledge and abilities to collect.


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