American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Cancer Policy Monitor

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                                                                                                 APRIL 2011

AACR STRESSES CONNECTION BETWEEN SCIENCE AND POLICY AT

ANNUAL MEETING

Brand new webcasts available of NCI director and other leaders discussing cancer policy and funding priorities

The impact of public policy on the future of cancer research was a common theme during the AACR’s 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 in Orlando, Fla. last week. Four sessions specifically featured cancer policy and other events featured leaders like Harold Varmus and former Congressman John Edward Porter discussing the looming budget challenges.

 

VARMUS DISCUSSES FUNDING CHALLENGES, NCI PRIORITIES

During his presentation to thousands of attendees at the opening plenary session, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Harold Varmus, M.D., elaborated on the institution’s goals and plans in the increasingly challenging fiscal environment.

He indicated that his top priorities will be to sustain the same number of new grant awards in FY2011 as was awarded in each of the past two years, to ensure cancer genomics programs are supported, and to pay for the ongoing improvements to the clinical trials program.

Varmus also detailed the recently released NCI bypass budget. As required by statute, NCI prepares this document each year for the president and Congress to give its professional judgment on the optimum funding needed to make the most rapid progress against cancer. The report narrative reflects on the last 40-years of cancer research and illustrates progress with examples from work on six kinds of cancer.

  • View a webcast of Varmus’s plenary talk, “The Future of Cancer Research: Challenges and Opportunities.”
  • View a short interview with Varmus following the plenary talk.

 

POLICY SESSION: THE OUTLOOK FOR CANCER RESEARCH FUNDING

During this policy session, former Congressman John Edward Porter (R-Ill.), chairman of Research!America, joined a distinguished panel in discussing advocacy strategies to ensure Congress continues to make the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a priority in challenging fiscal times.

In 1995, as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Porter successfully led the effort to reject proposed budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by using a hand-picked team of Nobel Laureates and other leaders to stave off a proposed 25 percent funding reduction over five years for the agency. Furthermore, the halt in funding cuts was followed by Chairman Porter’s committed role in doubling the NIH budget between 1997 and 2002.

Porter was also honored with the 2011 AACR Award for Distinguished Service and Global Impact in Cancer and Biomedical Research in recognition of his advocacy on behalf of biomedical research.

  • View an interview with former Congressman John Edward Porter discussing his career as congressman, his advocacy on behalf of biomedical research that helped to double the NIH budget in 1995, and the mission and goals of Research!America.

 

POLICY SESSION: PERSONALIZING CANCER TREATMENT: HOW THE FDA TOUCHES EVERY CANCER PATIENT

The rapid advancement of our understanding of cancer biology combined with the continuous innovation in technology is fueling novel approaches with true potential to revolutionize the treatment of cancer and usher in an era of individualized cancer treatment. The FDA, as the critical link between breakthrough biomedical research and delivery of lifesaving treatments, is tasked with the enormous challenge of modernizing the regulatory process to keep pace with the growing wealth of scientific information.

William S. Dalton, chair of the AACR Science Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee and president and CEO of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., moderated a panel of diverse stakeholders who discussed the opportunities and barriers surrounding personalized medicine with a focus on challenges facing the FDA. The panel also addressed the regulatory and political changes that are necessary to advance personalized medicine, as well as the need to enhance and modernize the regulatory process.

  • View an interview with William S. Dalton, M.D., Ph.D., chair, AACR’s Science Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee; president and CEO, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. Dalton covers a wide range of topics including the opportunities and challenges presented by the concept of personalized medicine, AACR’s leadership role in science policy, the influence of cancer advocates and the future of cancer research.

 

THE ROLE OF HEALTH INFORMATION IN REFORMING OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: WHAT IT MEANS FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Our health care system is becoming increasingly complex and electronically based, with sweeping changes to health care information systems recently set in motion by legislation enacted under the 111th Congress. The resulting resources and regulations, many still being written, have the potential to dramatically influence health care and cancer research. Cancer researchers need an interoperable, nationwide health information system that is capable of capturing patient outcomes and informing medical decision-making for the benefit of the cancer patient.

This session reviewed key elements and implementation of provisions included in the health care reform law and the stimulus package that impact cancer research. Panelists provided updates on advances and expansion in health information technology, including health information systems, patient portals and survivorship research. There was also discussion about the intersection of new systems with comparative effectiveness research in cancer, including the role of the newly established Patient-centered Outcomes Research Institute.

 

POLICY SESSION: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO CURB THE TOBACCO EPIDEMIC?

This session provided an update on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) work to implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. It also provided an overview of the federal tobacco research efforts of the National Institutes of Health. The AACR Task Force on Tobacco and Cancer chairman discussed how the cancer research community must collaborate to generate the much-needed evidence base to support the FDA in this historic undertaking.

Given that tobacco use has been definitively proven to cause cancer at 18 different organ sites, the AACR has a keen interest in strategic priorities that the FDA will pursue under the new regulatory authority over tobacco products granted by the Tobacco Control Act.


 

Read more from the April Edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor:

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