We are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. Research is fueling the development of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Precision medicine and genomics are accelerating the pace of progress to improve lives around the world.
NFCR President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Sujuan Ba, has spent this past year traveling the world to lead efforts and collaborate with top scientists to improve patient treatments as well as educate the public on advances in cancer research and prevention.
A Few 2016 Highlights
January – March
While many people were excited about a short work week because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Dr. Ba was travelling the world to collaborate with cancer researchers in China. In Beijing, Dr. Ba organized a workshop with 50 scientists from three continents and launched GBM AGILE China at a press conference at the China Hall of Science and Technology. This global launch effort is a continuation of the already-successful Washington, DC launch held in November 2015 for the groundbreaking global alliance formed to cure Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the deadliest human brain tumor. NFCR is particularly pleased with this first-of-its-kind international collaboration because it can help establish best-practice protocols for countries working together. Dr. Ba said, “GBM AGILE will change the paradigm of clinical research in the future, with a systematic approach to reveal potentially lifesaving treatments far faster than has ever been possible.” Click here to read the full text of Dr. Ba’s speech.
What is GBM AGILE?
Led by the best and brightest cancer researchers, GBM AGILE is a revolutionary global collaboration to test and develop new brain cancer treatments.
This global coalition- of which NFCR is a founding supporter- has attracted over 150 participants from more than 40 leading cancer institutions across three continents. It implements a new generation of clinical trials – called “adaptive trials” – which allow patients to be enrolled more quickly, receive treatment with multiple anti-cancer drugs simultaneously and does not require years of follow-up to determine whether a new experimental treatment is beneficial. Every patient counts in this innovative clinical trial.
For the past decade, Dr. Ba has worked closely with a group of passionate and accomplished women – known as “Daffodils and Diamonds” – who have resolved to make an impact in the fight against cancer. Their efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of life-saving research dollars.
Early in the year, Dr. Ba worked tirelessly with members of Daffodils & Diamonds to create the D&D Accelerator Fund for Cancer New Therapies. Too often, promising new cancer drugs and therapies lose funding and stall just before investment communities and biopharmaceutical companies can take them to the next level. This D&D Accelerator Fund aims to help bridge the so-called “valley of death” between early stage development and FDA approval.
This new initiative was announced at the 35th Annual Daffodils and Diamonds Luncheon in Chevy Chase, MD. Dr. Ba and members of the NFCR staff attended the event and thanked the D&D members for their hard work and generosity. Dr. Ba is confident this Accelerator Fund would provide a mechanism to generate a sustainable stream of future revenue to plow back to support cancer research. This long-living commitment to cancer research will appropriately showcase the great efforts made by this incredibly dedicated group of women.
April – June
On May 2, the 2016 annual Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research was awarded to Dr. Mary-Claire King for her seminal research on the existence of BRCA and the identification of its location. Thanks to Dr. King, genetic screening methods are now available to identify people at high risk, and preventive and therapeutic approaches have been developed to treat breast and ovarian cancer more effectively.
Over 150 people attended the dinner and award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Dr. Ba spearheaded the creation of this international, annual prize in 2006. The award recognizes outstanding scientific achievement in the war against cancer. This year, Dr. Ba made closing remarks at the event thanking Dr. King for her significant contribution to cancer research which saved million’s lives and emphasized the importance of continuing investment for cancer research for future life-saving breakthroughs.
On May 16-18, Dr. Ba presided over the peer review meetings by NFCR’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) in San Francisco. The SAB and NFCR-funded scientists met with Dr. Ba and NFCR’s scientific team to discuss scientific, strategic and clinical direction for NFCR’s science and translational research programs. “Research will cure cancer and NFCR is about research,” Dr. Ba stressed at the meetings. “This Scientific Advisory Board is about creating a road map for NFCR that works to liberate science—an architecture for speeding up discoveries and new approaches for treating cancer.”
After Dr. Ba returned to the Capital region, she ended the month of May by presenting at the Annual Conference for the National Association of Professional Asian American Women. Her speech titled “Your Best Defense Against Cancer” was an informative address for the accomplished crowd. Dr. Ba highlighted some important prevention tips for the audience, since, until we find cures for all cancer, cancer prevention is still a powerful weapon we must use and spread.
July – August
A scientist by training, Dr. Ba is a strong advocate for global collaboration – and not just flashy press announcements, but actual day-in and day-out long working groups with peers. As a member of the executive committee that leads Global GBM AGILE, Dr. Ba worked with a team of around 50 experts from the U.S., Australia and China to finalize the “Master Protocol of Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment” from August 7-11 in Phoenix, Arizona. This program will revolutionize how clinical trials are run in the future.
A few days after the successful conclusion of the GBM AGILE workshop in Arizona, Dr. Ba was in Frederick, Maryland cheering on a Play4TheCure® team as they raised funds for innovative cancer research. Play4TheCure® is dedicated to raising funds for NFCR through competitive sports featuring recreational sports clubs, middle schools, high schools and collegiate sporting events.
From August 20-21, Dr. Ba ended a busy month by attending the U.S.-China Forum on Precision Medicine and Patient Cares in Boston organized by Professor Raju Kucherlapati of Harvard University and the Kew Group, Dr. Ba shared her perspectives on cancer presision medicine at this form where diverse groups of scientists, physicians, regulators and business people get together to discuss the state of Precision Medicine and to find ways to promote this exciting newly emerging field.
September – October
In September, Dr. Ba had the distinguished honor to be part of the opening ceremony VIPs at the First International Precision Medicine Conference in Tianjin, China, representing NFCR with a presentation titled Advancing Global Cancer Research through Non-profit Mission.
On October 17, Dr. Ba joined Vice President Joe Biden for the Moonshot Report Release at the White House. Leading an organization that is responsible for groundbreaking cancer research discoveries throughout the past 40 years, Dr. Ba and NFCR greatly embrace this bold, collaborative undertaking.
What is Cancer Moonshot?
Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the Cancer Moonshot aims to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer- to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years.
Click here to read a copy of the Vice President’s report.
Dr. Ba continued her treks with some of the best and brightest at MIT in Cambridge, MA. From October 26-28, Dr. Ba attended the CanceRx 2016: New Approaches to Commercializing Biomedical Research Conference where she urged universities and non-profit organizations to work more effectively to advance their common mission of saving patients’ lives. She actively discussed with fellow attendees about how we must incorporate investment communities and biotech/pharma companies into the ecosystem of fighting cures.
On November 11, Dr. Ba showed her support for the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) and one of NFCR’s long-term research fellow and current Chairman of the Scientific Board, Dr. Web Cavenee at the Gray Gala in Boston, MA. Dr. Cavenee received the 2016 Feldman Founder’s Award for his long-term contributions to brain cancer research communities around the world.
Even though the year is almost over, Dr. Ba certainly won’t be slowing down. To keep up with Dr. Ba on a daily basis, follow @Sujuan_Ba and @NFCR on twitter.