Tag Archives: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Research!America’s Inaugural Advocacy Academy

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Advocacy Academy participants: Mesias Pedroza, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine; Chloe N. Poston, PhD, Eli Lilly and Company; Jeffery G. Mellott, PhD Northeast Ohio Medical University

Last week, we held our inaugural Advocacy Academy, bringing 12 postdoctoral researchers from across the U.S. to Washington, D.C.  A two-day advocacy training program that culminated in Congressional visits with the participants’ representatives. We selected this group of motivated and concerned early-career scientists from a diversity of institutions, including Northeast Ohio Medical University, UCSF, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Weill Cornell Medical College, the University of Washington and Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Eli Lilly and Company,  as well as local researchers at the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. For these young researchers, sequestration and budget cuts have clamped down on available resources to investigate diseases in the lab and raised concerns about the viability of a future career in research. Feeling compelled to take action, these postdoctoral research fellows came to Washington to convey the personal and societal importance of medical and health research.  And they did a terrific job. Continue reading →

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The sequester’s a public health hazard

Excerpt of an op-ed by columnist George F. Will, published in The Washington Post.

“The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music.”

— Lewis Thomasgeorge_will

The pedigree of human beings, Thomas wrote, probably traces to a single cell fertilized by a lightning bolt as the Earth was cooling. Fortunately, genetic “mistakes” — mutations — eventually made us. But they also have made illnesses. Almost all diseases arise from some combination of environmental exposures and genetic blunders in the working of DNA. Breast cancer is a family of genetic mutations.

The great secret of doctors, wrote Thomas — who was a physician, philosopher and head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — “is that most things get better by themselves; most things, in fact, are better in the morning.” But many things require intelligent interventions — cures. So, to see the federal government at its best, and sequester-driven spending cuts at their worst, visit the 322 acres where 25,000 people work for the National Institutes of Health.

This 60th anniversary of the Clinical Center, the NIH’s beating heart, is inspiriting and depressing: Public health is being enhanced — rapidly, yet unnecessarily slowly — by NIH-supported research here, and in hundreds of institutions across the country, into new drugs, devices and treatments. Yet much research proposed by extraordinarily talented physicians and scientists cannot proceed because the required funding is prevented by the intentional irrationality by which the sequester is administered. Continue reading →

May is National Cancer Research Month

Research saves lives. Fundamental research into pediatric cancers has led to a 66% decrease in mortality for these cancers over the past 40 years. Research!America is proud to recognize May as National Cancer Research Month in conjunction with our many members who are working to find and fund cures for all types of cancer. Research institutions like the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are just a handful of Research!America members who are working in this vital area of research. Continue reading →

The “arms race” in the war on cancer adds new weapon to the arsenal: personal genome sequencing

Large medical centers across the U.S. are investing in a burgeoning area of healthcare for their cancer patients: “precision medicine.” Substantial investments are being made to not only build new laboratory facilities and purchase research equipment, but also to staff these new facilities. Universities like Weill Cornell Medical College, Harvard Medical School, and Johns Hopkins University are joining clinical centers like Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in building an infrastructure for personalized medicine with the hope of playing a bigger role in the development of new drugs. Continue reading →

Researchers achieve groundbreaking results with cell therapy to treat acute leukemia

Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a Research!America member, have successfully treated a handful of leukemia patients with cutting-edge immune cell therapy. This therapy, similar to previous trials at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Cancer Institute, modifies the patient’s immune cells so that they recognize and kill the cancer cells. This experimental therapy provides a new avenue of treatment for patients who have undergone all of the traditional treatments like chemotherapy without achieving remission of the cancer. Read more about this exciting breakthrough in this New York Times article.

The study’s senior author, Michael Sadelain, MD, PhD, expressed his excitement over the results.

“We’re creating living drugs,” Sadelain said in the article. “It’s an exciting story that’s just beginning.”

This study, like so many other major breakthroughs in medicine, was made possible by funding from NCI. This particular immunotherapy has been in development and testing for more than a decade. Articles describing the foundational research for this month’s breakthrough cite financial support from the National Institutes of Health (Brentjens et al, Nature Medicine, March 2003) and the basic scientific principles used to safely modify human immune cells had to be well established before the 2003 experiments could begin. Investments in basic research are necessary to drive medical progress. It is hard to argue with the value of those investments when you read the stories of the patients whose lives were saved by this treatment.