President’s Cancer Panel: The Future of Cancer Research
Chandini Portteus and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D.

Komen VP of Research, Evaluation and Scientific Programs, Chandini Portteus and Margaret Kripke, Ph.D. Professor of Immunology and Vivian Smith Chair Emerita, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and member of President’s Cancer Panel

A big focus for Susan G. Komen for the Cure is innovation and collaboration in cancer research, and so I was very pleased this week to represent Komen before the President’s Cancer Panel – the three-member panel that reports to the president about the progress and effectiveness of the nation’s cancer programs. The President’s Cancer Panel holds meetings four times a year – this meeting was about the future of cancer research.

We focused our testimony on the need to answer the really difficult questions that still plague us in cancer research.  In breast cancer, these include why some cancers spread aggressively and others don’t; how best to treat and attack aggressive and metastatic cancers; why cancer seems to be more prevalent or deadly in some groups of people than others, and, of course, the best strategies for preventing cancer all together. These are the questions we’re attempting to answer in Komen’s research program ($610 million invested in research to date),

We’re acutely aware, however, that no one agency, non-profit or research institution can come to these answers all by itself – there’s a lot that we can learn from each other, and truth is, we get better and more creative solutions when we find ways to share the vast knowledge that resides in the world’s laboratories and clinics.

Along these lines, we formalized this collaborative approach at Komen in 2008 with our Promise Grants program.  Promise Grants are five-year, multi-million dollar grants aimed at getting to answers — urgently — for the toughest issues in breast cancer.  These grants are just part of our research portfolio, and they’re unique in that they require collaboration between researchers, practitioners, advocates and others  — sometimes within one institution, and sometimes across several institutions.

We currently have 14 Promise Grants looking into treatments for aggressive cancers and prevention strategies.  We’re excited that seven of these are already going to clinical trials, just two-and-a-half years into our program.  We expect that within the term of these grants we’ll see 16 clinical trials result.

We’ve also developed meaningful partnerships with institutions and research organizations, like the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank with Indiana University, the Institute of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.

We do this because if we’ve learned nothing else in 30 years, it’s that cancer is extraordinarily complex. We’ve made a lot of progress in some areas, but there’s a lot more to do. It requires the cancer community to come together to address the issues, especially as we learn more about the genetic basics of cancer, and how new statistical models and data can help in cancer screening, prevention and care. Sharing information and working together can help us get to the answers more quickly.

I’d like to thank the President’s Cancer Panel for the opportunity to share Komen’s views today – this was especially meaningful because our founder and CEO, Nancy G. Brinker, was a member of this panel in the early 1990s. I invite you to learn more about Komen’s research programs here.

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