Better Together: Opening Ceremony focuses on the power of collaboration

The number of cancer survivors in the U.S. topped 18 million in 2022 thanks to a 32 percent reduction in the cancer death rate between 1991 and 2019. The progress that has been made — and the progress still to come — is a testament to the global cancer community working together to reduce the toll of the disease, said AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), in her remarks to attendees during the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 Opening Ceremony on Sunday, April 16.

Margaret Foti, PhD
Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

“I am extremely excited about the entire continuum of cancer research — from population science, cancer prevention, and early detection to survivorship; from cutting-edge basic science to practice-changing clinical studies,” Foti said. “It is truly humbling to reflect upon the role that the AACR and this spectacular Annual Meeting play in showcasing your exceptional work that lays the foundation for lifesaving clinical outcomes.”

The AACR continues to lead the way in advancing collaborative efforts to combat cancer, Foti said. In the past year, the AACR has organized meetings with more than 80 cancer center directors to develop evermore impactful ways to collaborate in advancing cancer research and patient care.

The AACR’s groundbreaking Trust in Science Task Force is an explicit recognition that translating the vision of lifesaving science into reality requires a solid foundation of public trust.

“The task force will address the suboptimal participation of non-white racial and ethnic groups in clinical trials and develop strategies to improve bidirectional communications between cancer researchers and underserved patient populations,” Foti said. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values for the AACR and our organization is deeply committed to achieving the vision of health equity for all.”

Inclusion is global, Foti added.

The AACR is not only the oldest and largest cancer research organization in the world, it’s also the most international, with more than 54,000 members from 131 countries and territories. A third of the AACR membership is international and a quarter of Annual Meeting participants in Orlando are from outside the U.S.

“The AACR has the size, scope, collective vision, and brain trust to inspire and lead the field forward, spearheading progress and catalyzing innovation,” Foti said. “The extraordinary achievements and exciting initiatives are enabled or enhanced through collaborations with many stakeholders in oncology and more than 100 cancer organizations around the world. We share our passion to change the face of cancer and our belief that we are made stronger by working together.”

Lisa M. Coussens, PhD
Lisa M. Coussens, PhD, FAACR

AACR President Lisa M. Coussens, PhD, FAACR, who concludes her term as president later this week, echoed Foti’s support for inclusive, global collaboration to accelerate progress across the spectrum of cancer. One critical element in addressing the roots of cancer health disparities is bolstering diversity in the cancer workforce by increasing representation from underserved communities.

“One effective way to do that is to prioritize investment in attracting more students from those communities to STEM disciplines and career pathways, and retaining them by providing role models and effective mentoring,” Coussens said. “I am particularly pleased to announce the AACR High School Student Summer Internship Program, a new initiative that will provide students with dynamic and innovative STEM experiences through a four-week summer internship in collaboration with cancer centers with special emphasis to recruiting students from underrepresented and underserved communities.”

Coussens also highlighted a session she’s participating in Monday, the Presidential Select Symposium: Pregnancy and Cancer, which begins at 11:45 a.m. ET in the Chapin Theater at the convention center.

“The goal is to provide education for patients, families, and health care providers in optimal, patient-centered, ethical cancer care as it relates to women’s reproductive rights and the recent federal and state restrictions to abortion access,” she said.

The Opening Ceremony also included the introduction of the 2023 class of Fellows of the AACR Academy and the presentation of multiple awards, including the return of the AACR June L. Biedler Prize for Cancer Journalism after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

The Opening Ceremony can be viewed on the virtual meeting platform by registered Annual Meeting participants through July 19, 2023.

Claim Your CME/MOC Credits for the Annual MeetinG

Access to the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 virtual meeting platform and all on-demand sessions is available through July 19, 2023. To claim CME/MOC credits for qualified sessions, visit the AACR Continuing Medication Education page. Questions? Contact the AACR Office of CME at (215) 440-9300 or via e-mail at [email protected].