In 2016, the AACR Board of Directors and the AACR staff developed Vision 2020, a five-year strategic plan to set a course for the organization’s growth and impact on cancer research. This plan established a series of strategic priorities for the AACR, including a directive to “identify and foster innovative science that is of the highest priority and potential for impact in reducing cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality.” In the coming year, the AACR will finalize the work outlined in Vision 2020, implementing programs and initiatives that support its vision—to fundamentally change the face of cancer by being the most effective catalyst for the prevention and cures of all cancers.
Solving the cancer problem requires a comprehensive approach, and the broad expertise and bold vision of its members enable the AACR to develop such an approach. In January 2020, the AACR will focus that expertise on the challenge of precision medicine at a unique special conference titled “Advancing Precision Medicine Drug Development: Incorporation of Real-World Data and Other Novel Strategies.”
Chaired by AACR President (2019–2020) Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, FAACR, David M. Hyman, MD, Lillian L. Siu, MD, and Eliezer M. Van Allen, MD, the conference will address traditional cancer research topics such as trial design, diagnostics, and drug development; technology topics such as real-time patient monitoring, electronic health records, and machine learning; and regulatory and financial considerations in the era of precision medicine.
As the first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research, the AACR is the world leader in translating research discoveries to new and better approaches to cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Each year since 2011, the AACR has published its Cancer Progress Report to highlight the remarkable progress made against cancer as a result of federally funded biomedical science. However, while the pace of progress against cancer has never been more rapid, the benefits of that progress have not been distributed equally, as certain segments of the U.S. population shoulder a disproportionate burden of cancer.
The AACR has long been a scientific leader in the field of cancer health disparities, as it has organized the AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved since 2007. However, in 2019 the AACR leadership determined that realizing the vision of health equity would require a comprehensive effort to inform and educate policy makers, regulators, and the public about the scope of the problem and the steps needed to solve it. To that end, an AACR Steering Committee—chaired by AACR Annual Meeting 2019 Program Chair John D. Carpten, PhD—began work on the AACR Cancer Health Disparities Progress Report. Scheduled for release in 2020, the annual report will highlight areas of progress in reducing cancer health disparities and emphasize the vital need for continued transformative research and collaboration to ensure that research-driven advances benefit all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or the communities in which they live.
The FDA has a long-standing commitment to supporting generic drug development and competition, which can help reduce prices, improve access, and benefit public health. A critical element of this commitment is the updating of drug labels, which can become outdated as new information becomes available in the post-marketing setting. In 2018, the FDA launched Project Renewal, an initiative to keep generic oncology product labeling up to date on a more frequent basis. In its first year, the FDA has developed a set of repeatable processes and procedures to evaluate evidence from published literature to inform regulatory decisions for updated product labeling of older oncology drugs.
Beginning in 2020, the FDA will engage the AACR in Project Renewal to provide strategic scientific advice and perspective, enhance the scientific integrity of the repeatable process, and share insights on the evidence evaluation procedures. With the AACR's assistance, this long-term FDA project has the potential to help oncologists in their decision making and guide treatment decisions based on scientific evidence for the benefit of cancer patients.
In 2020, the AACR scientific publishing program will publish the first full issue of the organization's ninth journal, Blood Cancer Discovery. Under the leadership of inaugural editors-in-chief Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD, FAACR, and Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, FAACR, the journal will publish innovative basic, translational, and clinical research on all subtypes of leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as associated diseases. Blood Cancer Discovery is one element of the AACR's effort to take a leadership role in the area of hematologic malignancies; future steps include an expanded slate of conferences in this area as well as initiatives developed by the new AACR Hematologic Malignancies Task Force.
In 2019, the AACR Pediatric Cancer Working Group fostered increased collaboration with ITCC-SIOPE to accelerate the development of novel drugs for pediatric cancer indications. In 2020, the AACR will launch several initiatives designed to further improve the lives of pediatric cancer patients: