Vice President Joe Biden’s office has invited a delegation of six cancer experts to a meeting with his scientific staff and President Obama’s scientific staff to discuss new national cancer initiatives in precision medicine, research and cancer clinical trials.
Cheryl L. Willman, MD, director and CEO of the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, will present at the briefing. She will join the directors of The Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center, the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida, the University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center and the Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed, all of whom are members of the new Total Cancer Care/ORIEN consortium. Willman will provide updates regarding New Mexico cancer patterns, disparities and needs. She will also discuss the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center’s research strengths in genome sequencing and cancer prevention, and its collaborations with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Willman will also make recommendations on how to overcome the challenges that cancer patients, researchers and physicians face as they work to discover the causes of cancer and develop new cures for the cancers that affect New Mexicans.
President Barack Obama announced his challenge to “make America the country that cures cancer once and for all” during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 12. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the initiative. Biden lost his son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015.
The vice president is working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to increase research funding and accelerate cancer discoveries. The recently passed Omnibus Appropriations Act increased the NIH’s budget by $2 billion, the largest increase in more than a decade. The omnibus spending bill also increased the NCI’s budget by $264 million.
While many see curing cancer as a daunting task, Willman and many other cancer experts express hope for the future. Recent advances in genomic testing and in immunotherapy have greatly improved cancer treatments. Cancer treatments can be made vastly more tailored to each person, can have longer-lasting effects, and can make cancer more manageable for many years. Moreover, the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center has joined 11 other NCI-designated cancer centers and the Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed in a new national collaborative consortium. The Total Cancer Care/ORIEN consortium is focused on assuring that cancer patients benefit from detailed genomic characterization of their cancers and have access to new targeted treatments.
Vice President Biden has described the Total Cancer Care/ORIEN project as a new national model. The delegation will update his staff on advancements in the field of precision medicine, the importance of speeding up development of more effective personalized cancer treatments, and the need for sharing scientific data.
Cheryl L. Willman, MD, has served as director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center since 1999. She is a distinguished professor of pathology and internal medicine at the UNM School of Medicine, where she holds the Maurice and Marguerite Liberman Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research. She is an internationally recognized leukemia researcher, whose work now focuses on the use of comprehensive genomic technologies to identify novel targets for improved diagnosis, risk classification and therapy, and the translation of these new targets to diagnostics, therapeutics and clinical trials.
The briefing meeting with President Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s staffs will take place Thursday, Jan. 28.
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
Please contact Dorothy Hornbeck at James Korenchen Public Relations
The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center in a 400-mile radius. One of the premier cancer centers nationwide, the UNM CCC has 128 board-certified oncology physicians, forming New Mexico’s largest cancer care team. It treats about 60 percent of adults and virtually all the children in New Mexico diagnosed with cancer — more than 10,000 people— from every county in the state in more than 135,000 clinic visits each year. Through its partnership with the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance, an “exemplary national model for cancer health care delivery,” the UNM CCC offers access to more than 160 clinical trials to New Mexicans in every part of the state. Annual research funding of more than $72 million supports the UNM CCC’s 132 cancer scientists. Working with partners at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and New Mexico State University, they have developed new diagnostics and drugs for leukemia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, liver and pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, and melanoma; garnered 33 new patents and 117 patents pending; and launched 13 new biotechnology companies since 2010. Learn more at www.cancer.unm.edu.
Dorothy Hornbeck, JKPR, 505-340-5929, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michele Sequeira, UNM Cancer Center, 505-925-0486, email@example.com