Celebrating Together: Opening Ceremony commemorates 115 years of progress against cancer

The New Orleans community welcomed Annual Meeting attendees to the “Big Easy” during the Opening Ceremony with a live performance by the Preservation Hall All-Stars Jazz Band.

After two virtual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially fitting that the return to an in-person meeting coincides with the 115th Anniversary celebration of the founding of the AACR, said AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), in her remarks to attendees during the Opening Ceremony of the AACR Annual Meeting 2022 on Sunday, April 10.

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

“It’s amazing to be back together again and to feel the excitement and the energy at this meeting after three long years since we were last together in 2019,” Foti said. “Despite all the obstacles presented by COVID-19, this is an incredibly exciting, innovative, and hopeful time in cancer research. As reflected in the theme of this year’s meeting, the primary strides we are making across the spectrum of cancer science are driving transformative progress against the disease at an exhilarating pace.”

While advocating for increased federal funding continues to be a major priority for the AACR, Foti said she is encouraged by a renewed commitment to the Cancer Moonshot initiative by President Biden.

“AACR stands ready and eager to work alongside the Biden Administration and provide thought leadership for this effort, which will focus on improving cancer prevention, screening and early detection strategies, reducing cancer disparities, and propelling new lifesaving cures for patients,” Foti said. “I look forward to the pivotal scientific contributions that will come from all of you that will ensure the success of this initiative.”

David A Tuveson, MD, PhD
David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR

AACR President David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, who concludes his term as president this week, echoed Foti’s optimism for the future and the importance of the AACR’s continuing advocacy for increased funding in cancer research.

“Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, our prospects for making substantial advances for cancer patients through research have never been greater than today, at this moment,” he said. “Many more breakthroughs are within our grasp, but to achieve them we need the critical funding support to move our work forward.”

Together, the AACR and its members are a powerful voice, Tuveson said, and must continue to use that collective voice to lobby Congress to prioritize funding for medical research.

“We are in an exceptionally challenging funding environment right now, but I believe that our expertise and voices will continue to make a difference. And with more resources, we will be able to usher in new lifesaving discoveries and support new investigators,” he said.

Robert M. Califf, MD
Robert M. Califf, MD

In remarks recorded for the Annual Meeting, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, agreed that there are challenges in research funding, but said there are also many opportunities for organizations like the AACR to make a big difference in public health.

“Prevention and treatment of cancer is poised to take off in a major way, a point certainly emphasized by the Cancer Moonshot. I believe an unprecedented synergy between the FDA and the clinical and scientific ecosystem has been a major part of our success so far and it will be essential to the acceleration of continued progress,” Califf said. “The FDA and the AACR have a long history of collaboration, and I’m pleased that the AACR and the FDA and our Oncology Center of Excellence have worked so successfully together over the years on many projects designed to support evidence generation and our mutual goals of reducing cancer incidence, mortality, and morbidity.”

The Opening Ceremony also included the introduction of the 2022 class of Fellows of the AACR Academy and the presentation of numerous awards, including three inaugural awards: AACR James S. Ewing-Thelma B. Dunn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pathology in Cancer Research; Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers 2022 Meritorious Awards, In Partnership with Pelotonia and AACR; and the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research.

The Opening Ceremony can be viewed on the virtual platform by registered meeting participants through July 13, 2022.