Newswise — HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today joined with more than 450 communities and institutions across the country in hosting a Biden Cancer Community Summit, organized under the charge of the Biden Cancer Initiative. The Summit aims to encourage an ongoing dialogue about opportunities to make significant advances in cancer research, prevention, diagnosis and care.
“We applaud the Biden Cancer Initiative’s efforts to work together with so many communities around the world,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Collaboration is critical for innovative thinking, sharing important information and rapidly translating discoveries into actions or therapies that will bring us closer to our mission of eliminating cancer.”
This year’s Summit is the second of its kind. The inaugural Summit was organized in 2016 following the launch of the national Cancer Moonshot, which drew inspiration from MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™. Established in 2012, MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program aims to facilitate meaningful collaborations to accelerate the development of scientific discoveries into clinical advances that save patients’ lives.
The MD Anderson Summit featured opening remarks from Dr. Pisters, live-streamed remarks by Dr. Jill Biden from Washington, D.C., and a series of panel discussions moderated by Carin Hagberg, M.D., chief academic officer at MD Anderson. Feedback from participants at the Summit was collected and will be shared with the Biden Cancer Initiative to inform future strategies and areas of focus.
As part of the Summit, Lorna Haughton McNeill, Ph.D., chair of Health Disparities Research, was honored as one of 10 nationwide recipients of the Biden Cancer Initiative’s inaugural FIERCE Awards. The FIERCE Awards are intended to recognize individuals and organizations who have made a transformative impact on the lives of cancer patients. McNeill was awarded in the “reducing cancer disparities” category for launching Project CHURCH, an effort to reach African American communities and engage them in cancer prevention and research.
The first panel, “Improving Cancer Outcomes: Priorities in Cancer Research, Care & Prevention,” convened leading physician scientists, researchers, and public health and prevention experts to discuss the most promising opportunities to accelerate progress against cancer, such as advancing immunotherapies, increasing clinical trial participation and reducing disparities in cancer care. Panelists included:
- Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society and professor, Epidemiology, Emory University
- Karen DeSalvo, M.D., professor, Internal Medicine and Population Health, The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School;
- John V. Heymach, M.D., chair, Thoracic/Head & Neck Medical Oncology, MD Anderson
- Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Stem Cell Transplantation, MD Anderson
- Harpreet Singh, Ph.D., president and CEO Immatics US, Inc.
The second panel, “The Patient Experience: Improving Access, Navigation & Survivorship,” brought together cancer survivors, patient advocates, clinicians and health care professionals for a conversation about the cancer journey, including challenges facing cancer survivors today, necessary resources for patients and caregivers, and how to improve navigation services. Panelists included:
- Dan Blum, patient advocate
- Jennifer Kennedy-Stovall, director, Patient Access Support Services, MD Anderson
- Alyssa Rieber, M.D., chair, General Oncology, MD Anderson
- Damion Smith, cancer survivor
- Welela Tereffe, M.D., chief medical officer, MD Anderson
“It’s clear from today’s event that there are many around the world committed to working together to make discoveries, improve care and save lives,” said Pisters. “By engaging in these meaningful conversations and continuing our ongoing work at MD Anderson, I’m confident we will arrive at the innovative solutions to bring us closer to our goal of ending cancer.”
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