I love biomedical research. My blog is about shining a light on the people and events I encounter who inspire me because they do amazing things to advance medical research. I believe that good things happen when you bring together and connect really good people who care. I hope I can make some connections that will change the way research gets funded so we can bring more new ideas to life.
Time to Move Beyond the Ribbons?
This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting Massachusetts Senator Ed
Markey and Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics, Dr. Fred Alt. They
were both in Washington, DC for the presentation of the 2015 NFCR Szent-Györgyi
Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, which was awarded to Dr. Alt and
keynoted by Sen. Markey.
The common theme I heard from both of these distinguished leaders was
captured in a Huffington Post article written by Sam Stein, who
attended the event.
Stein succinctly wrote that “U.S. Science has never been more imperiled”. He
noted that the lack of funding for basic scientific research not only prevents
new discoveries, but it also means that we are losing promising scientists
whose work can’t get funded.
10 years ago, nearly a third of qualified research was funded by
NIH.Now that number is only 14%
(actually even lower for oncology, near 9%).As Sen. Markey said, “sadly, support for scientific research in our
country is fragile”.And when I asked
Dr. Alt what his biggest concern was for the future of scientific discovery, he
lamented the prospects of losing good young people from the field entirely.
Since 2003, the
NIH budget has seen a 20% cut in purchasing power for new grants. It’s time
to move past the ribbons, and recognize that this is not a zero sum game.As a lung cancer survivor, I care a lot about
the need for research in this area.But
cancer research science has evolved to where we should not be looking just at
cancer type, or organ-specific research.Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, cancer is caused by changes
to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and
divide. These changes include mutations in the DNA that makes up our genes.
Genetic changes that increase cancer risk can be inherited from our parents, and
can also be acquired as the result of errors that occur as cells divide during
a person’s lifetime.
Awareness is great, but we need to get serious about cancer research
funding.No matter what ribbon you wear,
let’s realize that we truly are ALL in this together.30 years from now, if we have lost a
generation of promising scientists due to lack of resources, what progress will
we have made in the fight against cancer?
The Greek meaning of evangelist is "bringing the good news." It's why I call my podcast the Research Evangelist Podcast. I love to share stories about people in life sciences who are doing amazing work to advance cancer research. And it's why The White Ribbon Project has captured my attention. The White Ribbon Project is a grassroots movement of lung cancer patients, advocates, clinicians, researchers friends and families with a mission to change the public perception of lung cancer by spreading awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. No one deserves lung cancer whether you smoked or not. But lung cancer is not just a smokers disease, as more and more people are getting lung cancer with no smoking history. The White Ribbon Project is proving that the power of a community that cares can be unleashed by individuals who wanted to make a difference - people that didn't set out to start a movement. It's because their story is so sincere and authentic
Ever since my lung cancer experience, I've been on a journey to try to be more grateful. To me living a life of gratitude means appreciating everything more and expressing that to people that I care about. I'm far from perfect at doing this, but I try my best to express my gratitude to others, to let them know that when they do things to help me, it means a lot to me. This gratitude journey started with my wife Missi and our three boys after my lobectomy and follow up treatment. It also has led me to find interesting people in my work life. People that go out of their way to volunteer to help me even when they are super busy with things in their own lives. People like Keith Spiro . I've never met anyone quite like him. What is amazing about him is that he's one of those guys that has so much going on behind the scenes you don't even realize how talented he is until he literally just shows you. He's the one who named me the Research Evangelist. And he's the o
I've often told friends that I believe in serendipity. One definition of serendipity is "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." Or even better maybe, "an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident." It's like saying "it's a small world." That happens to me a lot, but the world is not small unless you make the effort to actively connect with people and engage in real human conversations. And if you use the online tools available in the way they were meant to work, like Twitter, you can make real human connections by sharing what you care about with the world. Online communities provide opportunities to build authentic connections that can blossom into offline friendships, business relationships and networking. In the online cancer communities, really positive and interesting things happen to me often. I recently made an amazing new connection that came about because of some old connections an