MassBio and American Cancer Society present Symposium on Progress Toward Winning the War on Cancer

February 1, 2010

February 1st Event Brings Together Massachusetts' Biotech Leaders to Share Innovations and Research

BOSTON, MA-February 1, 2010-MassBio and the American Cancer Society, New England Division, partners in the Cancer Research Challenge, joined forces for the second annual event measuring "Progress Toward Winning the War on Cancer" on Monday, February 1, 2010. The afternoon symposium featured presentations by Massachusetts General Hospital's Dr. Daniel A. Haber and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Dr. Ronald A. DePinho.

The symposium will also recognize Millennium Pharmaceuticals: A Takeda Oncology Company, as the most recent sponsor of the Cancer Research Challenge.

In 2008, MassBio and ACS teamed up to push life sciences companies to fully fund the region's most promising cancer research in the coming years. To date, MassBio member companies AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, EMD Serono, and most recently Millennium Pharmaceuticals have generously stepped forward with commitments to each fund a three-year American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship.

"MassBio and the American Cancer Society share Millennium's aspiration to cure cancer," said Deborah Dunsire, M.D., President and CEO, Millennium. "We are proud to join with these organizations to advance research that may get us closer to that goal."

As a supplement to the fellowship program, MassBio and ACS convene an annual cancer research symposium focused on "Progress Toward Winning the War on Cancer." This year's event will feature keynote presentations by Massachusetts General Hospital's Dr. Daniel A. Haber and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Dr. Ronald A. DePinho, as well as a session outlining promising advances emerging from the region's life sciences companies.

An unprecedented partnership involving academic, nonprofit, and corporate sectors, the goal of the MassBio Cancer Research Challenge is to dramatically increase the amount of basic scientific research in the region's universities and academic medical centers, with the goal of funding 100 percent of American Cancer Society top-ranked Postdoctoral Fellowships in New England.

While cancer research has increased, particularly in Massachusetts, studies show that federal funding for basic science research has, in fact, declined. Alternative sources of funding, such as the American Cancer Society's research program, are increasingly critical. By funding talented beginning investigators with innovative ideas, American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowships launch hundreds of new cancer researchers and research directions each year. In fact, Society-funded investigators have contributed to most of the major cancer advances of the last 60 years.

The goal of the MassBio Cancer Research Challenge is to fund a total of ten additional $140,000 American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowships meeting the following criteria:

  • Top-rated, already peer-reviewed research proposals for which there currently is no funding;
  • Each commitment of $140,000 supports one three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship;
  • Commitments may be a multi-year pledge of up to three years.

"It is critical to fund this important tier in the workforce, post-doctoral fellows, because we know we face losing the next generation of our Massachusetts research stars," Coughlin said. "The economic downturn of the past 18 months has served to remind us that the only way we are going to be successful in developing new therapies and cures is to work collaboratively. The Symposium demonstrates that the Massachusetts life science industry is committed to working together to solve unmet medical needs for patients around the world."

"The symposium offers another platform to promote the research challenge.  In spite of challenging times, this is a very exciting era for cancer research," said Donald J. Gudaitis, CEO of the American Cancer Society, New England Division.


About MassBio

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), a not-for-profit organization that represents and provides services and support for the Massachusetts biotechnology industry, is the nation's oldest biotechnology trade association. Founded in 1985, MassBio is committed to advancing the development of critical new science, technology and medicines that benefit people worldwide. Representing over 600 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, research hospitals, and service organizations involved in life sciences and health care, MassBio works to advance policy and promote education, while providing member programs and events, industry information, and services.


About the American Cancer Society

The mission of the American Cancer Society is to eliminate cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, service and advocacy.

As the largest private, not-for-profit source of funding for cancer research in the world, the American Cancer Society targets beginning investigators working in institutions throughout the country, and directs research money into high-priority projects not being emphasized by other funding agencies. The Society's Extramural Grants are awarded to individual investigators in medical schools, universities, research institutes, and hospitals throughout the country for both basic and applied science, providing as much as 20-25% of all grant monies available to beginning cancer researchers. The American Cancer Society uses a rigorous peer-review system to evaluate proposals, and only the best are selected for funding. As of January 2008, the American Cancer Society is supporting over 800 current multi-year grants at institutions around the country totaling over $400 million dollars.

Despite these impressive numbers, the American Cancer Society is able to fund only 50% of the top-ranked New England research projects approved for funding by the volunteer peer review system. The lack of funding for these exciting and worthwhile projects often means that great ideas are not funded and young researchers must leave or never are able to enter the field of cancer research. 

The Society's total investment in research - about $3.4 billion since 1946 - has launched the careers of generations of scientists and generated major advances in virtually every aspect of cancer. Among the researchers who have received Society funding, 42 have gone on to receive science's highest recognition, the Nobel Prize - a record unmatched by any other funding organization in the world.



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