Tag Archives: cancer

Statement by Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley on the New Chair of the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee

November 20, 2014

Congressman Tom Cole’s leadership on the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee will help shape our ability to sustain and accelerate medical innovation as we confront health crises here and abroad. As a steward of the federal funding that lays the noncommercial foundation for private sector medical progress, Congressman Cole will play a pivotal role in determining whether our nation conquers Alzheimer’s, childhood cancer, Ebola and other insidious health threats. We commend his efforts to ensure quality health care for veterans, remove barriers to innovation through the repeal of the medical device tax and advance other health and research-related initiatives. We look forward to working with the congressman to strengthen our nation’s research infrastructure for the millions of patients awaiting new therapies and cures.

Promising Research Can’t Stall for Lack of Funding

Excerpt of a joint op-ed by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley and Susan G. Komen President and CEO Judith A. Salerno published in The Huffington Post.

MW & JSFebruary 23, 1954, was a milestone in the history of American medical research. That day, children at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh lined up to receive injections of a promising vaccine. Within months, schoolchildren all over the country were doing the same, and polio was on its way to being eradicated in the United States. The disease, which had killed and paralyzed children and adults alike, would no longer be a threat.

This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the work of Dr. Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh, and — equally significant — grant support from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now known as March of Dimes. Policymakers played a role, too, when the Polio Vaccine Assistance Act of 1955 made possible federal grants to the states for purchase of the vaccine and for the costs of planning and conducting vaccination programs.

A generation or two later, millions of individuals worldwide benefited from another major medical breakthrough. Remember when being diagnosed as HIV-positive was an automatic death sentence in the 1980s? Accelerated research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in partnership with Burroughs Wellcome and Duke University, resulted in the development of AZT, the first drug that slowed the replication of HIV. By 1987, the drug won FDA approval and marked the first major treatment in extending the lives of HIV/AIDS patients. Continue reading →

Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on the Accelerate Biomedical Research Act

Research!America applauds Senator Tom Harkin for taking bold, decisive action to heal fissures in our nation’s research pipeline with legislation that will strengthen the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget over the next six years. The Accelerate Biomedical Research Act will establish a pathway for sustained growth in the NIH budget. That budget has remained virtually stagnant over the last decade, jeopardizing promising research to combat disease and deflating the aspirations of early career scientists. NIH-funded research fuels the development of lifesaving therapies and treatments, and creates opportunities for public-private partnerships to better understand Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and other major health threats here and abroad.

Senator Harkin and other congressional leaders recognize the potential of innovative research, but it is Senator Harkin who is taking the lead at a time when too many elected officials appear to have taken their eyes off the ball with our global leadership in science and technology at risk. China and other countries are aggressively increasing their research and development investments, luring scientists to their shores and challenging our dominance in medical research and innovation. According to polling commissioned by Research!America, a majority of Americans are skeptical that the U.S. will maintain its pre-eminence in science by the year 2020, and many policy experts agree. We urge Congress to support the Accelerate Biomedical Research Act to improve the health of Americans and ensure our global competitiveness.

Medical Research: It’s about you and me

collage fact sheetResearch!America’s newest fact sheet series highlights the personal stories of medical research and the importance of increasing the NIH budget in FY15. We hope you will share these fact sheets with your representatives or congressional candidates, or take it with you on Hill or in-district visits. No one who reads these stories can doubt the significance of medical progress. A stronger investment in research is needed now more than ever!

Here are their stories:

What new discoveries are we delaying and missing when we slow the pace of medical and health research?

We’ve made progress. But the funding to sustain it is eroding.

National Men’s Health Week – June 9-15, 2014: It’s time to do more about prostate cancer

Leading up to Father’s Day and as part of National Men’s Health Week, the American Cancer Society is raising awareness about risk factors for cancer in men. Among the cancer threats men face, prostate cancer is particularly lethal. In fact, it is the 2nd most deadly cancer for American men behind lung cancer. This year alone in the United States, an estimated 233,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 29,480 men will die from the disease. Prostate cancer is also one of the most costly forms of cancer, with $11.9 billion spent on treatment each year in the US.

AYCFathersDayDespite these grim statistics, significant progress has been made in the area of prostate cancer research. Geneticists have identified mutations in the “HOXB13” gene as a cause of early-onset prostate cancer and certain protein markers have been found to be correlated with how much the cancer will spread. Advances in detection methods are making early diagnosis easier and more accurate. It is hoped that a new laboratory test currently in clinical trials will lead to fewer false positives and false negatives. Continue reading →

Working Together for Research

By Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.), Chief Executive Officer, American Association for Cancer Research

fotiEach year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is pleased to support and highlight May as National Cancer Research Month. Throughout this special month, the AACR celebrates the accomplishments of the scientific community, advocates for funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and spotlights the need for continued improvements in patient care.

There’s no doubt that tremendous progress has been made against cancer. People who have been diagnosed with cancer are living longer today than ever before. The five-year survival rate among adults who have had cancer (all cancers combined) is about 68 percent—an increase of 19 percent since 1975. For all childhood cancers combined, the five-year survival rate is 83 percent, an increase of 30 percent since 1975.

But much remains to be done. Almost 1,600 people in the United States die from cancer every day. The toll in medical costs, lost productivity, and human suffering is immense and will in fact grow as the “baby boomer” generation gets older. Continue reading →

What would it take to achieve a cancer-free world?

Excerpt of an article by Research!America VP of Communications Suzanne Ffolkes and Communications Specialist Anna Briseno, published in Elsevier Connect.

A panel hosted by Research!America and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network discusses challenges and opportunities for advancing cancer research

RA_PANCAN_PanelistsJulie Fleshman’s journey to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients was inspired by her father, who died four months after receiving the diagnosis. That was in 1999. Since then, she’s been advocating for research to support early diagnosis and better treatments.

“That passion drives me every day – anger mixed with hope and optimism of the future,” she said.

Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), made her remarks on a panel at the New York Academy of Sciences February 27.

Thought leaders from industry, academia, health economics and patient advocacy discussed challenges and opportunities for advancing cancer research and the prospects for a future where cancers are rendered manageable or even eradicated. They examined various aspects of cancer research and patient advocacy from a regulatory, policy and clinical standpoint. They spoke of the challenges posed by regulatory barriers and the role of advocates in fostering medical innovation. And they said there was critical need for collaboration among all stakeholders – including representatives from pharma, medicine, academia, the government and patient organizations – to accelerate medical progress.

The event – called A World Free from Cancer: A Road Paved with Medical Innovation – was hosted by Research!America and PANCAN.

Fleshman began the discussion by talking about the rise of the patient advocate who plays “an extremely important role in helping to change outcomes and … raise the awareness in the public, which drives public and private dollars and moves Congress to action.”

Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor, agreed. “Luck shouldn’t play a role in why I’m alive,” she said.

Dr. Amy Abernethy suggested that society should work toward better matching treatments and patients so resources aren’t wasted. She highlighted the need for extensive risk and benefit analysis to maximize opportunities for improved healthcare delivery.

MacCaskill agreed, noting it’s important for cancer patients to know what treatment options are available that best suit their needs. She said stakeholders need to work together to develop solutions that increase access.

Read the full article here.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Inspiration from Sochi

Dear Research Advocate:

People everywhere are captivated by the world-class athletes competing at the Winter Olympics. The personal commitment, dedication and motivation on display is certainly an essential ingredient for medalling, but it is not sufficient: Each nation fielding a team must commit to supporting sustained excellence. And both the public and private sectors play a role. There are some interesting parallels to science and innovation — we don’t see it in the public eye every day but when it comes to the fore, it’s the kind of success that affirms the human spirit in a compelling way. When lives are saved with a new therapy or new vaccine, we all take heart and we celebrate, perhaps not realizing that it took years of training, teamwork and ‘practice’ to arrive first at the finish line. What it takes to remain internationally competitive in any global arena — very much including science and innovation — is the combination of well-trained and dedicated people at the top of their form, plus a firm national commitment over a many-year period.

In journalistic coverage that we don’t see often enough, a special report in Monday’s Washington Post describes how government-funded basic research has led to new cancer therapies and a potential “cancer vaccine” currently undergoing testing in the private sector. This is a perfect example of the well-honed teamwork that is our public-private sector research enterprise. But without public sector financing, private sector capital and a commitment to STEM education, the pipeline will not only dry up, its infrastructure will crumble. As Congress readies itself to receive and respond to the president’s budget in early March, email your representatives in Washington to let them know that when it comes to medical research and innovation, the U.S. must continue to go for the gold. That means recommitting to global leadership.

With long-standing champions of science retiring, spurring that commitment will undoubtedly be a steeper climb. Congressman Rush Holt, a physicist whose legacy in Congress as a champion for science, research and STEM education is truly superlative, announced his retirement on Tuesday. His is the latest retirement in a string that reminds us how pivotally important one Member of Congress can be in advancing the best interests of our nation, and it underscores the importance of cultivation of new champions.

Tomorrow morning several NIH directors (NINDS, NICHD, NHLBI and NIAMS) will appear on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. The call-in program airs from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Eastern. I hope you take advantage of participating in this nationally broadcast program. Ask the directors what they think it will take to assure gold-medal winning research now and in the years ahead! Here are the Washington Journal’s phone numbers for calling in tomorrow:

  • Democrats: 202-585-3880
  • Republicans: 202-585-3881
  • Independents: 202-585-3882
  • Outside U.S.: 202-585-3883

I hope to hear your voice on the air!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Measuring Economic Growth: R&D Investments

Guest blog post by the  American Chemical Society.

ACSHow has the Super Bowl’s economy-driving market impact grown thanks to scientific research?

Can a value be placed on innovation? What is the economic impact of science and technology research? What is the return on investment of research and development?

These questions were addressed at the January 30, 2014, American Chemical Society Science & the Congress briefing, Measuring Economic Growth: R&D Investments, held on Capitol Hill. Moderated by the National Academies’ Stephen Merrill, PhD, panelist Steve Landefeld, PhD, of the Bureau of Economic Analysis spoke on how R&D numbers are now included in gross domestic product reports. Carol Corrado, PhD, of The Conference Board and Georgetown University explained how this captures “intangible” portions of the economy.

Researchers and scientists discover knowledge. Inventors and engineers apply understanding into tangible products like medicines, cars and computer software. Artists use technology from pens and paints to instruments and computers to produce works of entertainment. R&D thus seeds economic impact.

To illustrate R&D’s economic impact, IBM Chief Economist Martin Fleming, PhD, remarked that the Super Bowl attracts more viewers thanks to computer science: The 1st down line appears as “paint” on the field and not moving players. This TV “magic” results from scientific research of light and information. Camera sensors turn images into data, the Internet exchanges big data packages, then computer graphics paint on the TV screen in real time [with credit to Hollywood for development]. That the Super Bowl’s marketing power translates into significant consumer spending is hard to deny.

Andrew Lo, PhD, of MIT’s Sloan School of Management shows how R&D numbers are candy to financial markets to drive investment decisions that provide for economy-growing business. He showed that billions of dollars put into scientific and medical research in the War on Cancer has led to lifesaving drugs. The lives saved by these drugs contribute trillions of dollars to the economy. When considering multi-billion dollar federal spending, Lo states, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

ACS Science & the Congress Project holds briefings in Washington, DC, to educate and inform Members of Congress, their staffs and policy professionals on issues of science and technology. Previous installments are available at https://vimeo.com/channels/acssciconhill and https://vimeo.com/channels/sciencesocietychallenges. For more information on these events open to the public, contact science_congress@acs.org.

World Cancer Day

Today is World Cancer Day. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one of every four deaths. Today, the American Cancer Society, the American Association for Cancer Research  and many others organizations are joining forces to raise awareness and dispel misconceptions about cancer, while encouraging policy makers to make cancer research a national priority.

What can you do?

  • Call and email your representatives.
  • Make some noise. Join the conversation on social media using hashtags #cancerresearch, #WorldCancerDay, #cancer and #curesnotcuts.
  • Take a look at the list of World Cancer Day events for more ways to get involved.

Did you know? Over the past 40 years, mortality rates for childhood cancer have been reduced significantly, dropping 66% during this time period due to early detection techniques and treatment. Learn more, here.

Federal funding for cancer research is in steady decline. Now is the time to tell your representatives that funding for cancer research is not a luxury but a MUST for improving Americans’ health. We need cures not cuts!

Statement by Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley on President Obama’s State of the Union Speech

January 29, 2014

It’s heartening President Obama chose to emphasize in his speech the significance of federally funded basic research and the need to undo the damage that has been done to it in recent years with deep spending cuts. The president used language the science community epitomizes – he spoke of working for “breakthroughs” and a nation motivated by opportunity. But actions speak louder than words. Congress and the White House must treat research and innovation as the health and economic imperative it has always been and invest in expanding our nation’s research capacity. It bears on business and job creation in both the research and manufacturing sectors; it bears on our nation’s ability to slow or stop the progression of disabling, deadly and federal deficit-perpetuating diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease; and most importantly, it bears on the quality of life for Americans now and in the future. Our elected officials must eliminate sequestration for good and support medical innovation at the level of scientific opportunity to ensure more breakthroughs in coming years.

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Call in Friday morning to help change the national conversation

Dear Research Advocate:

Research!America, in partnership with the American Society of Hematology, released a new poll on Tuesday, revealing strong feelings about the consequences of recent fiscal debacles. A majority (57%) of Americans, across party lines, believe that the government shutdown in October caused significant harm to programs like medical research, defense and education, programs that Americans value. It is not difficult to connect the dots between fiscal dysfunction and the future of our nation: More Americans than ever believe that our nation’s global leadership in science, technology and research will soon be a thing of the past,with 73% saying we will lose global leadership by 2020 — just six years from now. A plurality says China will surpass us by then. This perception is not far off base. China and other countries, including most recently Mexico, are making major commitments to their research and innovation infrastructure. They are determined to drive their economy and contribute to health and prosperity by following what was for years the leadership example set by the U.S.

Last month, following President Enrique Peña Nieto’s leadership, the Mexican Congress increased the budget for the primary national science and technology agency by 20% for 2014 and increased the nation’s overall science budget by 12%. Battelle predicts that China’s dramatic increases in federal research spending have positioned the nation to overtake the U.S. in total R&D investment within a few short years. It’s high time we match the bold visions of Mexico, China and many other nations. Continue reading →

Medical Innovation Creates Great Value for Patients, Society and the Economy

By Robert J. Hariri, MD, PhD, Chairman, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics.

Robert Hariri headshot (lab coat) - small jpg (2)Medical innovation is the source of dramatic improvements in the quality and length of life and also creates enormous value for society and the economy at large. For example, in 1900, the average U.S. life expectancy was 49 years. Today, it is 79. It is estimated by 2040, U.S. life expectancy will reach 85 years. This is primarily the result of innovation in medicine and improvements to public health.  New medical treatments accounted for 45 percent of the increase in U.S. life expectancy between 1960 and 1997 and for nearly three-quarters of the increase in U.S life expectancy in the first decade of the 21st century.

Living longer, healthier lives translates to economic health as well. Economists’ Kevin Murphy, PhD, and Robert Topel, PhD, calculate that life expectancy gains from 1970 to 2000 have added approximately $3.2 trillion per year to national wealth. They also estimate that a 1% reduction in cancer mortality would be worth $500 billion to the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions about new medical treatments that are based on outdated information, or failing to consider medical innovation in perspective.  One misconception is that prescription drug spending is growing rapidly.  In fact, is it not — spending on prescription drugs actually declined by 3.5 percent per capita in the U.S. last year.  And the small portion of health care spending accounted for by prescription drugs actually saves money by reducing the need for other medical services. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The Congress of Today and the Congress of the Future

Dear Research Advocate:

With only eleven days until the end of the fiscal year, Congress has yet to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30. The House is expected to vote on, and pass, a bill that does not include funding to administer Obamacare as part of their “CR;” the Senate and the President will not agree, thus almost certainly forcing a government shutdown.

The issue of what to do about sequestration is almost certainly not going to be resolved as part of negotiating this short-term CR. That means we must continue to fight for action, and there has been a flurry of advocacy on Capitol Hill. This included, but was certainly not limited to the inaugural class of our Postdoctoral Advocacy Academy, who visited their Members’ offices to share stories of how sequestration has impacted their work and careers. And yesterday, Research!America’s Chair, former Congressman John E. Porter, gave the “go get ‘em” charge at the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day. Thanks to the leadership of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the day attracted more than 150 organizations, with more than 225 survivors and other advocates from more than 40 states descending on Washington. Also this week, the AACR released their third annual Cancer Report, demonstrating the tremendous return on the nation’s investment in basic research. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: America can do better

Dear Research Advocate:

The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the clarion call for equality for all Americans brings to mind the work still to be done to address health disparities. For example, cancer incidence and death rates are significantly higher for African-Americans than for all other ethnic groups, and Hispanic and African-American adults are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have diabetes than white adults. Our polling shows that nearly 75% of Americans believe it is imperative to conduct research to understand and combat health disparities. As a community of advocates, we need to press policy makers to keep this unacceptable gap in health care and health outcomes in their sights. America can do better.

As September nears, Congress returns to Washington with a looming fiscal debate. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reports that the debt ceiling will need to be raised earlier than anticipated, possibly as soon as mid-October. The urgency of this deadline takes away any buffer time on which congressional leadership may have hoped to rely. A funding measure for FY14, sequestration, the debt limit, reforms and a government shutdown may well be contenders in the upcoming debate. It will certainly keep advocates for medical and health research busy — fighting sequestration, pushing for greater research funding, pressing for the exemption of user fees from sequestration (should the across-the-board spending cuts remain in place), and even weighing in on the impact of tax and entitlement reform on medical innovation, although it is unlikely that such a reform effort would happen now. Continue reading →