More than 50 cancer center representatives from 20 states descended upon Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 6th, to educate the nation’s policymakers about the importance of a strong federal commitment to cancer research.
Friends of Cancer Research, along with the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) hosted the day-long event.
Edward J. Benz Jr., MD, President of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and AACI President, welcomed everyone during breakfast and urged all participants to help their elected representatives to better understand the impact of the federal budget on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) capacity to fund biomedical research across the country.
Following Dr. Benz’ remarks, the cancer center representatives spread out across the capitol and advocated for increased federal funding for cancer research during the 140 meetings with members of Congress and their aides.
During a mid-day lunch Dr. Richard Schilsky, President of ASCO welcomed everyone and introduced Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) who discussed, along with Caya Lewis, Deputy Staff Director for Health, Senate HELP Committee, and Cameron Cryer, Deputy Staff Director for Health, Senate HELP Committee, “The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act.”
“Our nation declared the War on Cancer nearly forty years ago, yet cancer is still expected to become the leading killer of Americans in the coming years. We must bring renewed focus and vigor to this fight,” Sen. Hutchison said. “That is why earlier this year I introduced legislation with Senator Kennedy to improve cancer awareness, research, and treatments.”
“Cancer is a relentless disease that doesn’t discriminate between men and women, wealthy or poor, the elderly or the young,” Sen. Hutchison said. “Every American has been touched in some way by this debilitating illness. I’ll continue to work, as I have for over 25 years, to raise cancer awareness and increase funding for cancer research.”
Cameron and Caya urged participants to encourage their representatives to actively support this critically important public policy.
During a reception, hosted the evening before the hill day, AACI, AACR, ASCO and Friends, along with cancer center directors from around the country, honored Senator Arlen Specter for his tireless work for ensuring biomedical research receives desperately needed funding and support. Dr. Schilsky welcomed everyone to the reception, and Dr. Ellen Sigal, chair of Friends, presented the award to Sen. Specter on behalf of all four organizations.