Opening Ceremony: AACR CEO praises strength of cancer community amid challenging times

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

In her Opening Ceremony address, American Association for Cancer Research CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), acknowledged the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and praised AACR members and the entire cancer research community for uniting to meet those challenges.

“We are so grateful to the cancer researchers in the AACR membership, along with those who are in the broader AACR family of scientists, physicians, and other health care professionals, who have worked together to contribute their vast scientific and clinical expertise in response to COVID-19,” Foti said. “The platforms of cancer research—based on years of discovery—have played a critical role in developing the COVID-19 vaccines that we so desperately needed.”

While the pandemic precluded meeting in person for the AACR Annual Meeting 2021, Foti said the opportunity to come together virtually has empowered people to network and connect in new ways. For example, the virtual Annual Meeting 2020 was the first of its kind and the largest virtual cancer meeting ever.

“I am proud to say that with virtual Annual Meeting 2021, we are building on that success and delivering even more breakthrough scientific content with enhanced on-demand viewing opportunities,” Foti said.

The large number of clinical trial abstracts that will be presented this week, including several that describe practice-changing phase III clinical trials, stands as a strong testament to the AACR’s robust clinical focus.

“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that our innovative work continues, because patients with cancer around the world are counting on us,” Foti said. “Because of our size, intellectual power, scope, and influence, the AACR and our 48,000 members embrace our responsibility to push forward with our partners around the world, propelling an agenda that is scientifically bold, broad, and collaborative.”

Towards that end, Foti said the AACR remains dedicated to pioneering an array of communication initiatives to serve both its membership and the broader scientific community in novel ways.

During her address, Foti announced that the AACR will launch later this year its first open access journal, Cancer Research Communications, dedicated to publishing meritorious cancer research related to every aspect of the field.  Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, and Lillian L. Siu, MD, FRCPC, will serve as the editors-in-chief.

“We continue to catalyze even more communication and collaboration with all stakeholders, nationally and internationally,” Foti said. “From scientists, physicians, and other health care providers in academia and industry, to regulators, funding agencies, policymakers, cancer survivors, and patient advocates, we are made stronger by working together.”

The Opening Ceremony also included presentations of the AACR Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Public Service Awards, the inaugural Daniel D. Von Hoff Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Cancer Research, and AACR Margaret Foti Award. Registrants can watch a replay of the Opening Ceremony through June 21, 2021.