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Cancer Policy Monitor: Jan. 9, 2017      

Key Policy Updates from Capitol Hill      

Prior to adjourning for the holidays, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep funding the government at least through January 19th. Meanwhile, policymakers are increasingly under pressure to reach a bipartisan deal that would increase the budget caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending in order to prevent the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

Several issues could jeopardize the passage of an Omnibus funding bill that includes funding for the National Institutes of Health. These include reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), funding extensions for certain health programs that received mandatory appropriations through the Affordable Care Act, funding initial construction of a boarder wall, and determining the future of individuals that had been eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Additionally, Congressional leadership, as well as the White House, are still negotiating a two-year budget agreement that would cover the rest of the 2018 fiscal year, as well as fiscal year 2019. Both parties agree that the spending caps should be raised, but they disagree on the amount. Democrats are insisting on matching any increase in the Defense budget is matched dollar-for-dollar with non-defense increases, which Republicans reject. Without a budget deal that raises the caps, Congress cannot pass spending bills that have already passed in committee without triggering automatic across-the-board spending cuts mandated under a 2011 deficit-cutting law.

Despite a lack of progress, there continues to be strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for the NIH. Leaders and like Tom Cole (R-OK), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, have expressed optimism that Congress will, in the end, be able to provide a robust increase for the NIH in a final FY 2018 spending bill.

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AACR Leadership Meets with NCI Director     

On Thursday, December 21, AACR President Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, AACR President-Elect Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, and AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.) met with NCI Director Norman "Ned" Sharpless, MD and a few members of his staff in his National Cancer Institute (NCI) office on the National Institutes of  Health (NIH) campus as a part of Dr. Sharpless’ listening tour with various NCI stakeholders.

The meeting was extremely positive. Dr. Caligiuri opened the meeting, stating that the AACR was looking forward to learning from Dr. Sharpless how to best provide help and assistance to the NCI over the coming years. The AACR leadership thanked Dr. Sharpless and the NCI for the particular support it receives, such as funding for the AACR Cancer Health Disparities Conference and the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop. In addition, Drs. Caligiuri, Jaffee, and Foti expressed appreciation to Dr. Sharpless for accepting their invitation to speak at the AACR Annual Meeting in April in Chicago.

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Join Fellows of the AACR Academy and Nobel Prize Laureates in Sending a Letter to Congress      

Last month, the AACR delivered a letter to congressional leaders from distinguished AACR current and past presidents and Fellows of the AACR Academy, including 18 Nobel Laureates, calling on leaders in the House and Senate to “move quickly to finalize a multi-year, bipartisan budget agreement that raises the caps on non-defense discretionary spending in FY 2018 imposed by the Budget Control Act.”

Lifting the caps is necessary for Congress to ​provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with $36.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018, a $2 billion increase over FY 2017 that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee but has not yet passed the full Senate.

Today you can make an impact on the future of cancer research by joining current AACR president and past presidents, as well as Fellows of the AACR Academy that include 18 Nobel Laureates, to urge leaders in the House and Senate to invest in biomedical research.

Please take a moment today to also contact Congress and urge them to move quickly toward finalizing a multi-year, bipartisan budget agreement that raises the caps on non-defense discretionary spending in FY 2018 imposed by the Budget Control Act. 

As budget negotiations are at a critical point, now is the time to make our voices heard with our senators and representatives, and to let them know that robust, sustained, and predictable funding increases for the NIH and the National Cancer Institute remain essential for further progress.

The links below provide you with a simple, customizable letter and a call script for you to use in your outreach. Thank you for taking the time to show Congress that we are united in our support for the vital NIH and NCI funding increases that are needed to improve our nation’s health and save more lives from cancer.

Send an Email. Make a Phone Call.

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Save the Date: AACR Early-career National Day of Action 2018      

In conjunction with the AACR Early-career Hill Day on March 7, we invite early-career scientists anywhere in the U.S. to participate in the National Day of Action by contacting members of Congress to urge their support for robust, sustained and predictable funding increases for the National Institutes of Health. It only takes a few minutes to send an email and/or call your congressional representative and senators, and your voice can greatly help advance our message to Congress!

You can sign up today to receive an alert on March 7 with easy instructions on how to contact your members of Congress. By signing up today, your information will already be pre-filled when you return on March 7, which makes taking action a simple one minute process. Sign up here, and make sure to select the "Early Career scientist," as well as the "Remember Me" and "Email Opt-in" boxes, so that we can send you the alert on March 7.

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Workshop Video: Partners in Progress, Cancer Patient Advocates and FDA    

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE) held the first annual educational workshop for new cancer patient advocates entitled, "Partners in Progress: Cancer Patient Advocates and FDA." The meeting provided basic training on the role of the FDA and cancer patient advocates in oncology product development. This broad introduction to FDA regulatory aspects of oncology product development is most relevant to attendees with limited knowledge and experience in cancer product development and patient advocacy.

Viewers of the workshop will:

  • Learn more about cancer treatment development, diagnosis, devices, drugs, and beyond.
  • Understand the role of FDA in cancer treatment development.
  • Hear how patient advocates are crucial to FDA’s missions.
  • Learn about FDA’s outreach efforts.
  • Hear about recent FDA approvals in hematology/oncology.

Support for this meeting was provided by the following organizations: The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Materials from the workshop, including all slide presentations, are available here.

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FDA-AACR-ASTRO Workshop: Clinical Development of Drug-radiotherapy Combinations    

Date: Feb. 22-23, 2018. Location: Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel, One Bethesda Metro Center, 7400 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

Register for in-person or webcast participation.

Purpose: There is great interest among clinicians as well as regulatory authorities to address the lack of drug development for products intended specifically for use with radiation therapy. Emerging from the enthusiasm and momentum of a session at the AACR-sponsored Accelerating Anticancer Agent Development and Validation Workshop (May 3-5, 2017, Bethesda, Maryland), this two-day workshop will bring together regulatory agencies, industry, and academia to discuss the challenges in greater depth and come up with a path forward.

Workshop Co-chairs:

  • FDA:
    • Amanda Walker, MD, associate director (acting), Oncology Center of Excellence; Medical Officer, Division of Oncology Products 1, Office of Hematology and Oncology (OHOP), Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), FDA
  • AACR:
    • Stephen M. Hahn, MD, deputy president and chief operating officer; chair and professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
    • Theodore S. Lawrence, MD, PhD, professor and chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan
  • ASTRO:
    • Marka Crittenden, MD, PhD, director, Translational Radiation Research, Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center; radiation oncologist, The Oregon Clinic
    • Phuoc T. Tran, MD, PhD, associate professor, Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

Register for in-person or webcast participation.

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Save the Date: Rally for Medical Research 2018    

The sixth annual Rally for Medical Research will be held Sept. 12-13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. For those who cannot participate in person, the online Rally National Day of Action will take place Sept. 13.

Stay up-to-date on registration information by visiting the Rally website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

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Join the AACR Cancer Action Alliance    

Launched in January 2012, the alliance leverages the strength of AACR members and interested nonmembers to build nationwide public and congressional support for cancer research and scientific progress. Alliance members are kept regularly informed about the news and events that affect cancer research and are alerted to opportunities to contact Congress or participate in other forms of outreach. Alliance members receive action alerts, timely legislative updates and other resources to facilitate their efforts.

With the Trump administration proposing deep cuts to the NIH budget, it is imperative that everyone who cares about defeating cancer speak out now and urge lawmakers not to turn their backs on the incredible scientific opportunities that are before us. Senators and representatives need to hear directly from residents in their district and/or state to understand what is at stake for their constituency, in terms of economics, health and competitiveness, if cancer research is not made a priority.

It is free and simple to join and your contact information will be used only to contact you about the AACR’s advocacy efforts and opportunities to take action.

Sign up here to receive action alerts and learn about opportunities to join other scientists, patients, survivors, and concerned citizens in calling on Congress to provide critical funding increases for the lifesaving cancer and biomedical research supported by NIH and NCI.

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Share Your Cancer Research or Advocacy Story    

We’re looking for inspiring stories from researchers and advocates about why they became interested in cancer research or advocacy and how they work in their own way on behalf of cancer patients and survivors. You can submit your story starting today for a chance to be featured on our Take Action website and future editions of the Cancer Policy Monitor.

You can be as creative as you like. 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. There is no deadline to submit your story. We will be accepting stories throughout the year. Submit your story and/or links​.

Ken Dutton-Regester, a melanoma researcher who serves as the chairperson of the AACR Associate Member Council, the leadership body of the associate members of the AACR, shared the story of his work. Ivy Elkins, a lung cancer advocate in the AACR Scientist↔Survivor Program, shared the story of how she became a lung cancer advocate. Kerie Berkowitz shared the story of how she survived ovarian cancer and became an advocate for survivorship issues.

Read more stories​ and submit yours today!

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