Two Events, One Lesson: Increase Federal Support for Cancer Research

Thanks to a quirk of fate, two seemingly unrelated events happened this past Monday that, when taken together, shine a light on the most vital partnerships in our collective fight against cancer.

The first was the public opening of the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston — named in honor of perhaps history’s greatest advocate for federal funding of cancer research — a day after President Obama and Vice President Biden helped to inaugurate it.

The second was the public television premiere of “The Emperor of All Maladies,” a new documentary based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name that is a “biography of cancer”, tracing the path of our history with the disease while profiling the scientists, researchers, doctors, and patients who have dedicated their lives to beating it.

These two disparate events are representative of a partnership that has saved the lives of millions of people — a partnership that is currently in danger of fraying and possibly being destroyed.

Just as cancer isn’t fought with a single weapon and relies instead on effective combinations of treatments — this drug, and that therapy — to make progress, our larger societal fight against cancer is no exception. It is the partnership between our political leaders on one hand, and the dedicated medical and scientific professionals on the other, that marshals, supports, and directs our fight against this disease.

Thanks to federally funded research grants, we have made astounding progress in understanding the complexities of cancer. We can, for instance, recognize and treat the nuances between different cancers. We can target cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells intact. We can monitor cell growth and manage side effects better than ever. We can even envision a cure. Thanks to this partnership, we are —> Read More