Twitter away – cancer progress

On September 16, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will release its 2014 Cancer Progress Report. Once it is released, a copy of the report can be found on line at www.aacr.org.   I had the privilege of again serving on the AACR Progress Report Steering Committee this year. It was exciting to summarize our progress. Highlights described in the report include the increasing number of people living with, through and beyond cancer; the approval by the FDA of 6 new cancer treatments based on proof they are effective; and advances in cancer prevention and screening. I will be joining a number of my colleagues in Washington, DC, on September 17 and 18 to highlight the report and advocate for biomedical research. In addition, I will be participating in a Twitter chat at 12 p.m. Central time on September 16 to discuss the report. You can follow along using the hashtags #CancerProgress14 and #abcDrBchat or by following our Twitter account, @UIowaCancer. Please join us as we twitter away – cancer progress.

Unfortunately, “twitter away – cancer progress” also has a negative connotation. At a time of such amazing potential, funding for cancer research is dwindling. Yes, we made progress over the past year, but that progress could have been so much greater if we had the resources to pursue more cancer research projects. Indeed, just this morning I wrote a letter of support for a research project submitted by an outstanding research team at Holden proposing a novel approach to treatment of pancreatic cancer. Their grant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) was viewed by a peer-review team of cancer researcher experts as being outstanding – in the top 15 percent of all grants reviewed. Yet odds are it will not be funded because of the limited funding available through the NIH and NCI. Across the country, outstanding research projects with great potential are going unfunded. Perhaps most concerning, young researchers with outstanding promise who would love to work on cancer research are deciding to invest their careers elsewhere because they are unable to get support for their research projects, or see their mentors struggling to keep research projects going.

We need your help to assure next year’s cancer research progress report reaches its potential and outlines advances that are even more impressive than those in this year’s report. Please join us on September 16 as we tweet about cancer progress, and state your support for cancer research. That will help assure we don’t let a lack of funding today literally twitter away cancer progress in the years ahead.