During the past decade, the National Cancer Institute has made significant progress in bringing to and addressing the health and other issues related to poor and medically underserved populations, racial and ethnic minorities, and residents of rural areas. A key to the institute's achievements was the development of the Special Populations Networks (SPN) program which from 2000–2005, established a deeper involvement in reducing cancer disparities than had been previously undertaken by increasing cancer awareness and creating opportunities for conducting community-based research.