As I discussed in my last post, there is a real crisis in the cancer research field and in science in general, because young scientists and those who want to be scientists, are finding it difficult to get financial support. The U.S. must recognize that if there are no young scientists, there will be no pipeline, there be no innovation in the long term. I believe that philanthropic support is the answer to help keep these young promising stars in the field. The funding gap that exists is not going to be solved by the government, big pharma or venture capital.Take Dr. Laurence Cooper, from MD Anderson Cancer Center. When I met him last year, he talked about how fortunate he was “to stand on the shoulders of giants, men and women who’ve come before me”. He talked about the need for philanthropic support to help him "think of things that are novel and new and untested.” And through philanthropic support, scientists like Dr. Cooper can bring young, promising post docs into their laboratories, further the exploration of risky new ideas and mentor the next generation of scientists. As Cooper says “it’s hard and we need backers.” I agree.
So when you read about Dr. Cooper’s blockbuster immunotherapy licensing deal , and how he is now the CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, remember that he was once a young, promising scientist, and this didn’t just happen overnight. The National Foundation for Cancer Research has been supporting his work at MD Anderson for many years, and it’s exciting to see the results of his work. It will only be through continuous funding that young scientists will stay on the path to being the next Dr. Laurence Cooper 10 or 20 years from now.