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President-Elect Candidate: Elaine R. Mardis, PhD

Vision Statement: The mission of the AACR is to prevent and cure cancer through research and collaboration. The AACR is a champion of cancer research encompassing a broad spectrum from cancer prevention to clinical translational research, all of which contribute to our understanding of this deadly disease. Cancer science has progressed rapidly in recent years, largely due to advances in technology that have accelerated our understanding of the fundamental biological changes that lead to cancer development and progression. Many such advances have been fueled by changes in the sociology of how cancer research is conducted, resulting in interdisciplinary, collaborative teams of researchers and clinicians, all focused on improving our understanding of cancer’s origins, responses to therapy, transition to metastasis, or interactions with the host microenvironment, to name a few. Team science efforts have arisen because tackling the complexity of this disease we broadly refer to as cancer requires expertise from many different backgrounds to coalesce around experiments and data that can be integrated to advance our knowledge. When these advances translate into clinical practice, we are better able to diagnose, treat, monitor, and cure cancer patients as well as to prevent cancer. The AACR has been a strong champion of team science by funding interdisciplinary research efforts and by awarding excellence in team science at the Annual Meeting. AACR scientific meetings also feature interdisciplinary themes and research discoveries from team science that reinforce the power of combined expertise in achieving breakthroughs.

The mission of the AACR is to prevent and cure cancer through education and communication. Cancer is a global health problem that touches many lives. A diagnosis of cancer has a profound impact on the individual patient, their family members and their friends. And while new treatments and the potential for positive outcomes are available to many patients with the most common cancers, rare cancer types often leave patients and their providers searching desperately for answers. This is especially true for pediatric patients, adolescent and young adult patients, and adult patients with rare cancer types for which there are often more questions than answers due to lack of basic research and few, if any, clinical trials. Indeed, the net result of studying thousands of cancers to elucidate their genomic landscape has revealed that each cancer is a rare disease, requiring characterization and perhaps uniquely tailored therapy, often referred to as precision medicine. This fact is compounded by challenges in educating providers about cancer’s genomic nuances and how best to address them, and requires us to devise new and innovative educational resources to address the disparities in physician education. Project GENIE, a comprehensive knowledge base funded by the AACR, provides an important reference for translational scientists and physicians pursuing cancer precision medicine, even for rare cancers. The AACR educates the international cancer community by publishing research and clinical trials results in their scientific journals, and by disseminating new knowledge about cancer at scientific meetings and symposia worldwide. The annual AACR Cancer Progress Report educates our legislators and others in public service about the value of research in the fight against cancer, and highlights research conducted by our membership and supported by our organization. Cancer Today is a monthly AACR publication that provides information to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, and communicates our emphasis on patient-centered research and outcomes.

There has never been a more important time to communicate our passion for continued breakthroughs, especially as we face uncertainty in funding for cancer research. With research funding in peril, we risk losing our next generation of young researchers and the important contributions they will undoubtedly make. The AACR is working tirelessly to promote government funding for cancer research by lobbying politicians about the impact on outcomes and new therapies made possible by basic and translational cancer research. We must continue to engage our international membership including advocates, cancer survivors, basic and translational researchers, clinical trialists, community physicians, cancer prevention specialists, clinician-scientists, and all others toward our stated mission to prevent and cure cancer!