American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019 – Overview of the opening ceremony
By Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – The 2019 edition of the AACR annual meeting kicked off amidst much excitement from thousands of attendees who gathered at the Georgia International Convention Center. The opening ceremony commenced with the introduction from AACR’s Chief Executive officer, Dr. Margaret Foti who indulged in reminiscing the modest beginnings of the organization’s previous meeting in the city. She extended her sincere gratitude and appreciation to all members who were instrumental in its progress and took immense pride in acknowledging the significant reduction of cancer deaths over the years. However, she quickly reminded the threat of new cancers that are predicted to increase from the present 1.7 million cases to 2.3 million in the year 2030, emphasizing AACR’s responsibility.
The presidential remarks were delivered by Dr. Elizabeth M. Jaffe who once again thanked the members of AACR for their time and efforts to put together a high impact program. She mentioned how the organization’s minorities in cancer research membership group have strived to achieve diversity by proactively working towards the participation of gender minorities. “We are the world leader in gender equity, according to a recent report on the representation of women on international oncology boards and in other leadership positions” she said. The opening remarks were followed by an array of award presentations with two notable awardees. The St. Jude Cancer Survivorship research team bagged the Thirteenth AACR team science award, while the lifetime achievement award went to Dr. Emil J Freireich of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.
The ceremony came to a close with the passing over of the NCI directorship to Dr. Doug Lowy. The outgoing NCI Director, Norman E. Sharpless noted how past researches have benefitted patients of this generation and how today’s breakthroughs could lead to a better tomorrow. “It is quite humbling to consider the millions of patients with cancer who have participated in clinical trials over the years, many of whom participated with full knowledge that they, personally, would never benefit from any new discovery. That the advances would be made after their lifetime. In their worst days, they built a fire for others to warm their hands” he said. Dr. Sharpless would soon be seen transitioning to a new role as an Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He reflected on the decisive role played by clinical trials and the contributions of the pharmaceutical industry in improving cancer therapy. He also recognized that the grant situation is turning bleak and how in the future, the NCI might have to encounter too many grant applications than it could handle.
The conference is to be held from March 29th to April 3rd. Keep visiting this space for more updates from the event.
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