Richard M. Marais, PhD, FMedSci, FRS
The world will see over 17 million new cases of cancer this year—with an unprecedented negative impact on individual and societal health and wealth. This global problem needs global solutions, and the AACR is well placed to lead this effort. With over 40,000 members from 120 countries, the AACR is already global and at a time when some governments appear to be becoming more inward looking, the AACR stands proud to look outwards and enshrine the principles of inclusion, equality, and diversity. As President, I will capitalize on the AACR’s wealth of talent and international reach to create cross-border and cross-continent opportunities to bring the brightest scientific minds together to investigate the complexities of cancer and ensure that the AACR continues to lead the global cancer effort.
As a basic researcher with a background in translating research discoveries into clinical practice, I understand the need to engage a broad expertise base to improve patient outcomes; the conversation between our communities has never been stronger or more productive. Clinical teams adopt new scientific discoveries with enthusiasm, and basic researchers start to understand the patient journey and the need for improved rather than more treatments. Patients and patient advocates ensure that we ask the right research questions. This cooperation underpins precision medicine. Technology allows us to identify and describe cancer with greater precision than ever, and new drugs and treatments as well as advances in modalities including surgery, radiotherapy, and imaging have led to substantially improved patient responses. We are also beginning to understand how tumor heterogeneity and evolution drive resistance and relapse.
Unfortunately, we understand less about how to apply precision medicine across the globe. Germline variations combine with environmental and cultural influences to alter cancer risks in different countries and potentially change patients’ responses to treatment. This is further confounded by disparities in care provision. As President, I will tackle this global challenge by leveraging the extraordinary global reach of the AACR. At the Annual Meeting, with its international program that attracts with over 23,000 participants from around the world and also at the smaller focused conferences, we will work with international partners to begin to understand the genetic and biological differences between cancer patients from different countries. Scientific discoveries will be at the heart of our discussions, and task forces will examine how large multinational teams can work on cross-border projects. And we will ensure that our community is composed of agile, responsive, and highly diversified international thinkers. With the AACR leading this global conversation, discovery science will continue to fuel new clinical developments and improve cancer patients’ lives across the world.