Director's message: Farewell 2016

Volume 5, Issue 4, 2016


Dr. Diasio recounts highlights from an exciting year at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Photograph of Robert B. Diasio, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

As a Forefront subscriber, you know that our focus is on sharing the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's outstanding research. However, for my last column of 2016, I want to share some of the other exciting things that happened at the Cancer Center in 2016.

In January, I had the pleasure of accepting funds from the 62nd annual 5th District Eagles Cancer Telethon, a nonprofit charity dedicated to raising funds to support cancer research in Minnesota. The tremendous commitment of the Eagles to funding young researchers is critical to our success.

Also in January, our Cancer Center location in Arizona hosted Living With Cancer: A Mayo Clinic Symposium for Patients and Their Loved Ones. The symposium, to be held again in January 2017, featured an internationally renowned group of speakers who provided comprehensive, patient-friendly information about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and information about many issues facing cancer patients, their families and caregivers.

In February 2016, the Mayo Clinic campus in Arizona opened the Southwest's first proton beam therapy facility, which is now treating patients across a five-state area. Proton beam technology delivers radiation therapy in a way that offers the potential for fewer side effects and higher cure rates, often for patients whose cancer can't be treated safely any other way.

Also in February, more than 10,000 runners gathered near our campus in Jacksonville, Florida, to take part in the 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, created by breast cancer survivor Donna Deegan. Money raised by the marathon helps support genetic research geared toward developing treatments for breast cancer and other cancers.

In March, our Florida campus held the Capture the Moment Cancer Education Symposium in Orlando. The event was held in partnership with community oncologists, cancer support groups, patients and caregivers to empower patients with educational tools to better cope with their diagnosis and treatment.

Also in March, the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida announced plans for the construction of a 150,000-square-foot facility that will provide integrated services for complex cancer care. Two floors will be devoted to hematology and oncology care. The new space will be complemented by a 50 percent increase in staff, increasing our capacity to serve patients and conduct clinical trials.

In May, the National Institutes of Health announced that Mayo Clinic would be awarded $142 million in funding over five years to serve as the national Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program biobank. The biobank will hold a research repository of biologic samples, known as biospecimens, for this longitudinal program that aims to enroll 1 million or more U.S. participants to better understand individual differences that contribute to health and disease and to advance precision medicine and cancer treatment.

In June, I was honored to attend the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden, included more than 350 researchers, oncologists and other care providers, along with data and technology experts, patients and advocates. The event was a great opportunity to discuss strategies for increasing the rate of progress in understanding, preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.

We look forward to many more exciting achievements in 2017.

Thank you for subscribing to Forefront. Happy holidays from all of us at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. May you enjoy a happy and healthy 2017.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.
Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor