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Plan Helps Move Scientific Breaktrhoughs From the Research Lab to the Patient

originally posted September, 1997

Vice President Gore has announced an historic initiative to increase cancer research funding and Medicare coverage for patients who are enrolled in clinical trials testing new treatments.

The result is an unprecedented opportunity to intensify the war on cancer, says Max Wicha, M.D., president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI).

"Never before have this nation's cancer centers had such an opportunity to translate the tremendous breakthroughs in basic science into more effective, less toxic therapies for patients," says Wicha, who is director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Currently, fewer than one-quarter of the research proposals that are endorsed by the peer-review process receive funding. With this White House proposal, that number could increase to more than one-third - a big step in the right direction."

The AACI represents a membership of more than 100 cancer centers nationwide. As its newly elected president, Wicha is surveying the centers to develop a plan to help direct funding to the areas it is needed most. The AACI's proposal will be presented to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Wicha says added funding could be best put to use by:

. Expanding the NCI's specialized programs of research excellence, which target common cancer killers such as lung, breast, colon and prostate cancers.

. Enhancing prevention efforts, such as cancer genetics and identification of high-risk groups.

. Supporting clinical research of cancer center physicians, who are increasingly strained by managed-care restrictions, to improve their ability to conduct innovative clinical trials.

. Increasing core grant awards for NCI-designated cancer centers, where most translational research is conducted.


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