AACR Provides Thought Leadership to Vice President Biden During Special Session on Fighting Cancer at Davos


PHILADELPHIA — Vice President Biden invited leaders from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to provide their thoughts and guidance at today's special session, "Cancer Moonshot: A Call to Action," at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The special roundtable session convened by Vice President Biden and moderated by Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), brought together international leaders in cancer research, cancer treatment, and data science to discuss potential opportunities to advance the pace of progress in the fight against cancer.

The distinguished panel of experts included the current president of the AACR and two AACR past presidents:

  • José Baselga, MD, PhD, current AACR president and physician-in-chief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

  • Charles L. Sawyers, MD, a past president of the AACR, chair of the AACR Project GENIE Steering Committee, chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

  • Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, a past president of the AACR, and president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.

"The AACR looks forward to working with Vice President Biden and his staff to develop a comprehensive plan to help achieve the vice president's vision of making significant advances against cancer in the near future," said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR.

Topics discussed during the special roundtable session included cutting-edge areas of research and technology, such as CRISPR/Cas technology; technological innovation and data science advancements; the need for the international collaboration; and challenges that must be overcome, such as a need for enhanced data harmonization, if we are to dramatically accelerate the pace of progress against cancer.

Vice President Biden highlighted the importance of data-sharing initiatives and cited AACR Project GENIE during his opening remarks at the session.

AACR Project GENIE is an international data-sharing project that is using an approach to data harmonization that allows each participating organization to continue to operate how it best sees fit while simultaneously contributing its data to the project. By aggregating clinical-grade sequencing data from its members, the project will improve patient treatment decisions and catalyze clinical and translational research, not only at the participating institutions, but also throughout the entire biomedical research community by ultimately making the data open to everyone following varying times of exclusive access.

Other experts at the special session in Davos were Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the Department Health and Human Services; David B. Agus, MD, professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine; Delos (Toby) Cosgrove, MD, chairman and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic; Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD, the Li Ka Shing chancellor's chair in biomedical and health sciences and professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and structural biology at the University of California, Berkeley; Paula T. Hammond, PhD, head of the department of chemical engineering and David H. Koch chair professor in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Bill McDermott, chief executive officer of SAP SE.