A Glimpse of Things to Come
It's been nearly 3 years since I announced the 2015 challenge goal to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer. Inherent in establishing this challenge was a commitment: NCI would pledge to accelerate the pace of progress. It would commit to build on the past and provide the leadership for creating the future. It would pledge to being courageous when facts dictated a need for change, but also to being cooperative and collaborative when reality dictated that teamwork was needed to augment individual excellence.
Like any other journey to a far-off destination, this one will be marked by the achievement of milestones and memorable events. But, most importantly, the hallmark of these efforts will be consistent progress, always hastening its pace. And that's what we are beginning to see, whether it's the mounting successes with adjuvant therapy, progress with targeted agents such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) and bevacizumab (Avastin), or important new insights into oncogenesis and metastasis.
I believe the coming year will offer far more of the same. And such advances, when combined with the launch of new NCI-supported programs from proteomics to survivorship, are allowing us to witness the signs of a true metamorphosis in cancer research - dramatic changes optimized to accelerate the pace of discovery, development, and delivery, but without sacrificing quality or safety.
Our growing support of genomics, nanotechnology, and advanced imaging technologies, for instance, are creating a new frontier for discovery, offering new tools for delving deeper into the mechanisms of disease, and ultimately defining potential weak points at which we can intervene. On the delivery end, we are working to develop and refine sophisticated computational models capable of analyzing tens of thousands of data points on cancer cells and the macro- and micro-environments in which they reside, to help plan and monitor treatments.
I also expect that this year will bring with it the continued expansion of team science. The increased sophistication of research into cancer initiation, promotion, and progression demands more integrative science - physics and biology, engineering and epidemiology. This shift is also spreading to NCI-designated Cancer Centers, which increasingly are working more as a single unit instead of individual programs, contributing heavily to initiatives such as the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid™.
Other defining components of this metamorphosis include the forthcoming implementation of the NCI Clinical Trials Working Group's recommendations and the continued assessment of NCI's investment in translational research. These efforts are intended to create an integrated research portfolio that seamlessly spans the discovery-development-delivery continuum.
All of these examples are in step with the strategic approach NCI has been crafting to achieve the 2015 goal - an approach developed through the collective expertise of staff, our advisory boards, and the guidance of important constituents, such as the advocacy community.
The work over the past several years will culminate in the release later this month of a comprehensive strategic plan for achieving the 2015 goal, a document I'm particularly proud of and that I'll discuss further upon its release.
As I look to 2006 and beyond, I believe great things are going to happen - some will be fortuitous events, but most will be the result of having made strategic decisions that helped us achieve our desired end.
Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach