Annual Meeting Considers Shape of Things to Come in Cancer Research

PrintPerspectives on the future of cancer research and care, including the latest on CAR T-cell therapy, Big Data management, and international partnerships, will highlight the AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting, September 30 – October 2, in Chicago.

Stanton L. Gerson, MDIn the meeting’s first panel discussion, four distinguished cancer center leaders will share their insights and predictions for how academic cancer centers will evolve over the next decade. The discussion will be moderated by AACI President Stanton L. Gerson, MD, director of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Gerson will be joined by Candace S. Johnson, PhD, president and CEO of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center; Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, executive director of the Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center; and Steven T. Rosen, MD, provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Gerson will also provide an update on AACI’s Network Care Initiative, including results of a survey looking at network management; standardization of care and the use of care paths; collaboration among cancer centers and community sites; employment network models; and access to clinical trials.

Roy Jensen, MDThe meeting will mark two major leadership transitions for AACI. Roy A. Jensen, MD, director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, will become the association’s new president and will introduce his presidential initiative, which aims to develop a comprehensive, cancer-specific clearinghouse of model legislation for AACI cancer centers to share with their state legislators. In addition, Barbara Duffy Stewart, MPH, will preside at her final annual meeting after 19 years as AACI’s first executive director. Jennifer W. Pegher, who has served for six years at AACI as director of government relations and deputy director, will be the new executive director.

The annual meeting program includes a panel discussion on the nuts and bolts of
developing a CAR T-cell therapy program, including intake and management issues,
standard operating procedures, financial challenges, and regulatory requirements.
Approaching cancer care from a high-tech angle, a panel moderated by Moffitt Cancer
Center Director Thomas A. Sellers, MD, will convene commercial and academic players
in the Big Data arena with an eye toward enhancing dialogue and developing stronger
linkages that could lead to expanded information-sharing and improved patient care.

With a growing number of cancer centers establishing partnerships with countries in
the developing world, the AACI annual meeting will include an overview of cancer
research and treatment efforts in several countries including Kenya, Malawi, and Cuba,
where U.S. sanctions are creating unique collaboration challenges.

Meeting attendees will also hear a report from NCI Director Norman E. Sharpless, MD,
and a panel will examine revised guidelines for NCI’s Cancer Center Support Grant
application.

Richard and Susan RogelOn Monday, October 1, AACI will present its first Champion for Cures Award to Richard and Susan Rogel in recognition of their $150 million gift to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, which was renamed Rogel Cancer Center in their honor.

Also on October 1, Charles M. Perou, PhD, will receive the AACI Distinguished ScientistCharles M. Perou, PhD
Award. Dr. Perou, a pioneer in breast cancer research and precision medicine, will deliver a talk focused on sequencing studies for gene expression analysis, specifically, on research results showing the value of sequencing-based approaches in breast and lung cancers. The May Goldman Shaw Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Perou is also the faculty director of UNC Lineberger’s Bioinformatics Group, co-director of its Breast Cancer Research Program, and a professor in its Genetics and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine departments.

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A Legislation Library to Benefit AACI Cancer Centers

Roy Jensen, MD

Roy A. Jensen, MD

Cancer centers are an enormous force for good and collectively have worked to lower cancer incidence and mortality rates for over four decades. In many cases, this improvement has resulted from basic science advances being translated into the clinic for the benefit of cancer patients. But in other cases, cancer centers worked diligently to prevent cancer from developing in patients in the first place. This has primarily resulted from the enactment of good public policy that limits carcinogen exposures or promotes the adoption of healthy behaviors in large populations. Such efforts can often save hundreds—if not thousands—of lives over the course of many years and represent a critical tool in our efforts to lower cancer mortality.

As a membership organization serving 98 cancer centers in the United States and Canada, the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) has an unprecedented opportunity to exert enormous influence on public policy. I suspect nearly every AACI cancer center in our organization is working to advance at least one public policy initiative, however we haven’t been able to leverage our collective efforts for maximum impact.

At the upcoming AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting, September 30 to October 2 in Chicago, I will begin my two-year term as president of AACI. For my presidential initiative, I intend to spearhead the development of a comprehensive, cancer-specific clearinghouse of model legislation for AACI cancer centers to share with their state/province legislators.

My hope is to offer a dynamic, online library of model policies – each of which is the product of many hours of research and data collection. Using this framework, I believe AACI would be positioned to become a “one-stop shop” for cancer-related public policy. AACI will not engage in formal lobbying; however, the database will serve as a go-to source for information that AACI’s members can use to educate legislators on the issues vital to decreasing cancer incidence and mortality in their catchment area.

Read more from Dr. Jensen, CEO and director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center and AACI vice president/president-elect, in AACI’s September 2018 Commentary