Moffitt Hosts Cancer Policy Forum

On March 7, Moffitt Cancer Center hosted a Cancer Research Policy Forum: Progress, Promise, and Challenges in the Era of Precision Medicine with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and with the support of the AACI. The full recording of the forum is now available.

The collaborative event included National Cancer Institute (NCI) acting director Douglas R. Lowy, MD, and U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Kathy Castor (D-FL). Alan List, MD, CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center welcomed the panel, including Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, MPH, director of the Moffitt Cancer Center, William Dalton, MD, PhD, chair of the AACR Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee and CEO of M2Gen, and patient advocate Jacqueline Smith.

House Energy and Commerce Committee members Bilirakis and Castor expressed their support for biomedical research and the incredible strides being made in cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center. Both members of Congress stated that the Fiscal Year 2016 budget increase was a step in the right direction for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NCI, but acknowledged that Congress can do more to prioritize biomedical research.

Dr. Lowy highlighted the importance of federal funding to cancer research advances at Moffitt as well as other academic cancer centers across the country. He updated the group on progress in cancer research, highlighting the decrease in incidence and mortality, and discussed the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden. Dr. Dalton voiced concern for the next generation of researchers, stressing that predictable funding is needed to retain early-career scientists. Audience members echoed Dr. Daltonís sentiments, adding that the uncertainty surrounding funding from year to year proves challenging for young researchers.

Bilirakis and Castor noted that H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, passed by the House in July of 2015, will ease funding burdens through a mandatory funding stream for the NIH. Stage 3 melanoma survivor, Jacqueline Smith highlighted her clinical trial experience at Moffitt and explained how her experience impacted her interest in advocacy. She encouraged audience members to weigh in with their respective legislator on the importance of investing in cancer research. Dr. Sellers reminded the audience what a promising time it is for cancer research, with the Precision Medicine Initiative and Vice President Bidenís cancer initiative. The policy forum was well-attended by Moffitt Cancer Center staff and local media representatives.