So your corresponent was able to spend most of the past 36 hours at the prostate cancer-specific component of the ”Celebration of Science” event in Washington, DC. It was interesting to observe (from a prostate cancer viewpoint) just how hard the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is now “pushing” the research community toward “quantum leaps” in their thinking.
With something like 120 young researchers, their mentors, and other speakers at the prostate cancer component of the meeting, the focus was almost exclusively on encouraging radically new ways to look at the development and management of prostate cancer … complete with presentations as varied as the following:
- One by Carl June (from the University of Pennsylvania) on the bioengineering and use of therapeutic T-cells; Dr. June and his colleagues first reported the clinical application of such science and bioengineering to effectively treat a patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in August 2011.
- One by Jay Schnitzer, the Director of the Defense Sciences at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), on how DARPA approaches innovation and examples of some of their more recent successes (including a four-legged “Cheetah” robot that can run at nearly 30 miles an hour — and climbing). Don’t forget that DARPA’s predecessor (ARPA) was the organization that initiated the development of the Internet … initially called ARPANET.
- Another by Charles Sawyers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on the process of innovation in cancer drug development. (Dr. Sawyers is the “creator” of enzalutamide — a.k.a. MDV3100 — which was approved by the FDA just a few days ago for the treatment of metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer, but this is actually the third cancer drug that Dr. Sawyers has helped to create and bring to market.)
The clear message from PCF to the researchers it is funding was ‘We have no interest in “me too” science. We want to fund concepts that are way “out of the box” in order to make truly major advances in the prevention, accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment of prostate cancer.’
It is also worth noting that the prostate cancer events were just one piece of the whole, three-day “Celebration of Science” event (coordinated by the Milken Institute and Faster Cures), that was designed to send a clear message to Congress that cutting funding for scientific and medical research would be a total disaster — economically, scientifically, and medically.
Editorial note: Prostate Cancer International thanks the Prostate Cancer Foundation and its senior staff for inviting us to these events.
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