(clockwise) NFCR President Dr. Sujuan Ba, ECI Founder Mr. Andrew Forrest and
PhIRDA Executive President Mr. Song Ruilin
In recent months, the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) has signed memorandums of understanding with two major foreign institutions, the China Pharmaceutical Innovation and Research Development Association (PhIRDA) and the Australia-based Eliminate Cancer Initiative (ECI). The former is China’s pharmaceutical industry R&D body, comprised of member companies, whereas the latter is the cancer battling program of the Minderoo Foundation, a philanthropy founded by the wealthy mining magnate Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group.
The three influential organizations teamed up on April 13th to co-host the China Brain Cancer Mission Round Table in Beijing, a gathering of three-dozen decision makers among premier Chinese, U.S. and Australian government, industry, philanthropy, clinical, university and investment organizations focused on combating the disease among the three countries. The Meeting was held at new facilities of Beijing Tiantan Hospital (BTH) of Capital Medical University (CMU), a respected Chinese medical institution which too served as its lead organizer.
A Who’s Who of Cancer Science & Policy Pros
The event was moderated by Dr. Wenbin Li, Director of both CMU’s Hospital Administration Department and BTH’s Glioma Department. Remarks were delivered by BTH President Dr. Yongjun Wang, NFCR President Dr. Sujuan Ba, ECI Founder Mr. Andrew Forrest and PhIRDA Executive President Mr. Ruilin Song. Playing a key facilitating role was National Health and Family Planning Vice Minister Dr. Yixin Zeng, an important and knowledgeable central Chinese government official.
Among the day’s highlights was a presentation by two of ECI’s Policy Advancement and Clinical Sciences Board Members, introducing the organization’s guiding principles and current goals for cooperation with Chinese (and U.K.) brain cancer research teams. Those two ECI representatives were Dr. Ronald DePinho, the Past President of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung, a Professor there. Both gentleman have strong NFCR ties—the former, the winner of the Foundation’s 2009 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, and the latter, a scientist who had recently been funded by us.
Additional sessions included an update from Ms. Jinju Li, Deputy Director of the China Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Drug and Cosmetics Registration, focused on the topics of priority review, approval and extended clinical trials for brain cancer drugs.
Committing to More
A wrap-up discussion was led by Dr. Ba; Dr. DePinho; Dr. Shujun Cheng, an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences’ Cancer Institute and Hospital; and Dr. Jizong Zhao, Chairman of BTH’s Neurosurgery Department. Topics ranged from adaptive clinical trial platforms, promotion of cancer research by international collaboration, innovative cancer therapies motivated by big data and identification of potential new funding sources and other forms of support.
In conclusion to the event, the participating experts, scholars and entrepreneurs agreed and challenged one another to:
- search for new brain cancer treatment targets,
- collaborate in pharmaceutical innovation,
- jointly formulate work plans and guidelines,
- accelerate market and import review and approval processes,
- invest in additional brain cancer research in China and elsewhere, and
- vigorously promote related work.