WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four of the nation’s leading oncology organizations will honor Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on May 11, recognizing his longstanding commitment to biomedical research and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) and Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) will present the award to Rep. Markey following a collaborative cancer research advocacy day on Capitol Hill. The advocacy day is largely focused on sustaining or increasing the nation’s investment in biomedical research.
Markey has served as a champion for the NIH during his more than 35 years of service in the House of Representatives. In recent years, he has distributed an annual “dear colleague” letter to appeal to his fellow congressmen for increased funding for the agency. He is also a steadfast supporter of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other cancer research centers in his home state of Massachusetts.
“Congressman Markey’s support is invaluable,” said AACR President Judy Garber, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Cancer Risk and Prevention Program at Dana-Farber. “The NIH funds crucial research and programs at Dana-Farber and at cancer centers throughout the nation. Without the commitment of Congressman Markey and other congressional supporters, the work we do every day simply would not be possible, and the advances our patients are counting on would not be there. ”
The advocacy day follows a 1-percent funding reduction for the NIH in Fiscal Year 2011 – a cut that, leaders say, must be reversed to preserve the nation’s leadership in biomedical research.
“There is incredible biomedical research being conducted all across the nation that aims to bring new treatments and hope to patients everywhere,” said Ellen Sigal, Ph.D., chair and founder of Friends. “However, if the commitment to fully funding our scientific and research agencies does not continue, news of scientific breakthroughs will become a thing of the past, and the burden of diseases like cancer will continue to take their toll on the American people.”
Physicians, researchers and patient advocates from around the country will visit congressional offices on May 11, many from the nation’s top cancer centers. The NIH and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) award these centers critical funding to bring clinical trials to patients and conduct innovative cancer research.
“AACI’s 94 member cancer centers know firsthand the impact of NIH and NCI funding on cancer research,” said AACI President Michael A. Caligiuri, M.D., director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute. “For example, it is with this funding that Ohio State researchers are discovering that gene mutations and molecular markers in leukemia cells can help distinguish leukemia patients who require aggressive treatment.”
The meetings give cancer researchers and clinicians an opportunity to speak directly to their elected representatives, making the case for sustained – or, ideally, increased – funding for the NIH and NCI. The groups are asking for Congress to at least meet the president’s NIH budget request of $31.98 billion in FY 2012, a 2.4-percent increase above FY 2011. They are also advocating for an FDA budget increase of $279 million, in order to safely and adequately usher in the next generation of treatments and cures.
“Cuts to publicly funded cancer research threaten the research that is making significant progress in diagnosing, preventing, and treating cancer,” said ASCO President George W. Sledge, M.D., Ballve-Lantero Professor of Oncology at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center. “Today, some 500,000 people die from cancer in the United States every year. And as our population ages, the disease is projected to become the nation’s leading cause of death. Given these challenges, we urgently need to accelerate the pace of research, particularly the clinical trials that serve as the link between cutting-edge discoveries in the lab and new therapies for patients. Millions of patients and their loved ones are relying on the NIH and NCI for the possibility of a healthier tomorrow.”
# # #
The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With nearly 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs, and peer-reviewed journals. For ASCO information and resources, visit www.asco.org. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.
Representing 94 of the nation’s premier academic and free-standing cancer research centers, the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), based in Pittsburgh, is dedicated to aiding its members’ shared mission to eradicate cancer. For more than 30 years, the Association has provided a unified voice for cancer center directors to educate policy leaders and the public about the importance of cancer centers and the role they play in reducing the burden of cancer in their communities.
Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) is a cancer research think tank and advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Friends is a leader in developing partnerships and advocating for policies that will get treatments and therapies to patients in the safest and quickest way possible. Working with federal health agencies, congressional leadership, academic research centers and private sector industry, Friends continues to create innovative educational, policy, and scientific approaches to improve health outcomes and cancer care. www.focr.org