The Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center has organized its research activities into seven programs to enhance interactions between investigators. Cancer research is generally categorized into several areas or phases.

Basic Research seeks to understand the normal biology and biochemistry of living organisms as well as understand how normal biology is disrupted leading to cancer. These disruptions to normal functioning are referred to as carcinogenesis or oncogenesis.

Translational Research seeks to use basic understanding or biology and oncogenesis to develop methods of selectively destroying cancer cells or better stopping cancer from developing.

Clinical Research takes ideas developed from basic and translational research and tests the new methods in human patients. In general a new, promising therapy is ultimately compared to the best current therapy to determine if the new therapy is superior.

Population-Based, Epidemiological and Behavioral Research studies large populations or subsets of populations to identify biological characteristics, behaviors or environmental factors that might lead to cancer.

Health Services, Outcomes and Comparative Effectiveness Research studies the delivery of healthcare attempting to identify best practices and systems that lead to measurably better patient outcomes.

Researchers at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center are engaged in all these areas of cancer research. Efforts to integrate this new knowledge to develop, test, disseminate and deliver new better therapies or prevention strategies is called translation.