Scientist↔Survivor Program Participants Spend a Memorable Day on Capitol Hill
This article first appeared on the AACR's official blog, the CANCER RESEARCH Catalyst.
May was National Cancer Research Month, and for the past 10
years, leaders and members from the American Association for Cancer Research
(AACR), the Association
of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have
converged on Capitol Hill during this month to share how cancer research is
saving lives and transforming patient care.
This year, as the U.S. Senate was getting ready to vote on a
government spending bill that included a $2 billion increase for the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) in fiscal year 2017, cancer researchers, physicians,
survivors, patient advocates, and cancer center directors were making their way
through the halls of congressional office buildings to thank members for their
support and urge them to keep the momentum going next year. With the White
House now proposing deep cuts of nearly 22 percent to the NIH budget in
fiscal year 2018, it is more important than ever that Congress continues to
make medical research a national priority.
Included among those were members of the AACR Scientist↔Survivor Program (SSP), a program launched in
1999 to foster mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships among the leaders
of the scientific and cancer survivor and patient advocacy communities through
the exchange of information on key aspects of cancer research, survivorship,
advocacy, and public policy.
“This Hill Day was particularly meaningful attending as a
part of the Scientist↔Survivor Program and demonstrating a unified partnership
between multiple groups with the common goal of improving patient outcomes and
curing cancer,” said Aime T. Franco, PhD, an assistant professor in the
Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Arkansas for
Medical Sciences. “The alliance of the AACR, ASCO, and AACI for this event
demonstrates the effective cooperation of patients, caregivers, physicians, and
researchers. It is critical that we are able to demonstrate our unity in the
battle against cancer when advocating for funding and support for research.”
Gerald Green, a mechanical engineer, three-time cancer
survivor, and SSP advocate from California, shared his survivorship journey
with members of Congress and their staffs. He was first diagnosed with tongue
cancer in 1995, then with neck cancer in 1997 and prostate cancer in 2008.
“When I was diagnosed with tongue cancer, my son was a year
old, and the first milestone that I wanted to reach was being able to see him
graduate kindergarten,” Green told staffers, adding that his son has now
graduated high school. “Through it all, Monica, my wife and my north star,
supported me through cancer’s uncertainties.”
William (Bill) Rosvold, a pancreatic cancer survivor from
New York who serves as the Advocacy Chair for PanCAN NYC, was part of an
eight-person delegation from New York that included physicians and researchers
from top cancer institutions, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering and Columbia
“It was good to speak out, and better to be heard,” said
Rosvold. “We met with senior health aides for two senators and six
representatives. Though in the moment you never know about the long-term impact
of these meetings, I think we were heard. In particular, I think we have a
friend in Senator Chuck Schumer and in Representative Peter King.”
The day before Hill Day, the House of Representatives had
approved the 2017 omnibus appropriations bill by a vote of 309-118. On Hill
Day, the Senate approved the bill by a 79-18 vote. While the SSP participants
celebrated the increase in NIH funding that was included in the bill, they also
recognized the work left to be done.
“Everyone is touched by cancer, whether through their own
diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one, yet we are still fighting to make
research a national funding priority,” said Franco, who shared her story with
the AACR in a previous blog post.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to represent cancer
patients, researchers, and clinicians and to work collaboratively to raise awareness
about the importance of cancer research and sustained, predictable funding,”
she added. “But every time I’m in D.C., I do secretly hope that this will be
the last trip that I have to make, because I’m hopeful for a future without
cancer where we will no longer need to make it a national priority.”
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Share Your Cancer Research or Advocacy Story for National Cancer Survivors Day
June 4 was National Cancer Survivors Day, which celebrates life and raises awareness of the challenges faced by cancer survivors. If you are or work with cancer survivors, we’re looking for your inspiring stories about survivorship research or advocacy. Submit your story to be featured on our Take Action website.
You can be as creative as you are inspirational. Write your story in your own words, make an online
mini-site, create a video, or submit a digital collage. Any way you think would
best tell your story is acceptable. You can submit your story and/or links
here. There is no deadline to submit your story. We will be accepting
stories throughout the year.
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FDA-AACR: Oncology Dose Finding Workshop Part III
Given the recent history of approvals based on the results of early phase trials driven by extraordinary efficacy data, the incentive for conducting rigorous dose-finding trials may not be overtly apparent. However, the increasing need for the development of combination therapy due to resistance to monotherapy and poor tolerance of approved dosing regimens underscores the need for a more efficient process of dose selection in the early stages of study design.
FDA and AACR have successfully held Oncology Dose Finding Workshops in 2015 and 2016. Patient and dose selection of oncology drugs will be of critical importance, as recent approvals of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) and early, promising readouts from studies combining ICIs with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and other immuno-oncology agents will put enormous pressures on the current clinical trial infrastructure of the U.S. and the international community. A recent article in The Cancer Letter reported that 803 clinical trials currently testing PD-1 and PD-L1 drugs had over 160,000 slots for adult patients. As more ICIs enter the market, additional trials will seek to combine these products with standard of care therapies, novel small molecules, targeted antibodies, and other biologic therapies such as vaccines and engineered T-cells. This year’s workshop will focus on approaches to combination therapy and best practices regarding patient and dose selection, biomarkers to aid in selection, and novel endpoints that can define patient benefit.
SESSION I: Immuno-Oncology (IO) Overview – Scope of the problem
SESSION II: Key Translational and Design Questions for IO Agents
SESSION III: Considerations for Dose Selection of IO Combination Products
Amy E. McKee, MD
Deputy Director (Acting), Office of Hematology and Oncology, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA
Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD
AACR President-elect 2017-2018; The Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Professor of Oncology; Deputy Director, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins; Co-Director, Gastrointestinal Cancer Program The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Registration is now available at this link.
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Register Today: Rally for Medical Research
May, we were shocked to learn that the Trump administration is
proposing to cut $7.2 billion from the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) budget in fiscal year (FY) 2018, a nearly 21 percent cut. These draconian proposed cuts
make this year’s Rally for Medical Research more important than ever for
protecting funding for lifesaving cancer research. The fifth annual
Rally for Medical Research Hill Day will be held Sept. 14, 2017, in
Washington, D.C., with a reception on the evening prior. Registration is
now open and all interested advocates of biomedical research are
invited to register.
For those unable to travel to D.C., there will also be a National Day
of Action, where advocates will be able to contact their senators and
representative from anywhere in
the United States to urge support for the National Institutes of Health. Save the date!
Stay up-to-date on by visiting the Rally
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