Convening the Nation’s Cancer Centers to Accelerate Progress

In an innovative new initiative to drive progress against cancer, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has announced the formation of the AACR Cancer Centers Alliance. The Alliance is an unprecedented collaboration between the nation’s cancer centers that will help them expand their scope and impact for the benefit of all patients.

Wednesday’s announcement in Washington, D.C., was the culmination of a series of historic meetings the AACR convened over the past year at which cancer center directors discussed how their individual institutions could work together to accelerate the pace of discovery for patient benefit. These discussions provided the foundation and momentum for the formation of the AACR Cancer Centers Alliance.

Margaret Foti
Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

As noted in Wednesday’s release of the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023, advances in cancer research and treatment have led to a 33% decline in the cancer death rate since 1991. To improve outcomes and reduce the cancer burden across the nation, the Alliance will work synergistically with President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot and the National Cancer Plan led by National Cancer Institute Director Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD.

“We’re at a major inflection point in cancer progress. We want to deepen our connections with each other and engage partners in academia. As cancer center directors, we see ways where our centers can work together for the common good, and the AACR provides us with a convening focus,” said Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Weiner will serve as co-chair of the Alliance’s subgroup on Clinical Research, Clinical Trials, and Regulatory Science and Policy.

Louis Weiner
Louis M. Weiner, MD

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR, said the Alliance dovetails with the AACR’s mission to foster collaboration in support of cancer research.

“The formation of this innovative initiative that is being led by our nation’s cancer center directors is a watershed moment in cancer research and patient care,” she said. “The scope and impact of cancer centers will be significantly amplified by working together. AACR is honored to serve as the convener for the AACR Cancer Centers Alliance, and we look forward to working closely with cancer center directors across the country to speed the pace of progress and save more lives from cancer.”

According to Cheryl L. Willman, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, many Americans do not know what a cancer center is—unless they or a loved one receive a cancer diagnosis. To ensure clear communication of the Alliance’s top scientific priorities, she will serve as chair of an Alliance subgroup titled Speaking with a Unified Voice.

Cheryl L. Willman
Cheryl L. Willman, MD

“Through the AACR Alliance, we will speak with a unified voice to address the most important questions in cancer. As the convener of this initiative, AACR will bring its power to amplify the messages of hope and healing to all the communities we serve,” said Willman.

AACR Past President David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center, will serve as chair of the AACR Cancer Centers Alliance steering committee. “Despite tremendous forward momentum in our progress against this complex disease, cancer in all its forms remains a major public health challenge,” Tuveson said. “Innovative approaches and partnerships are urgently needed if we are to improve outcomes for all patients.”

Read the article fully detailing the Alliance’s initial plans, published in AACR journal Cancer Discovery.