Director's message: National Cancer Moonshot

Volume 5, Issue 3, 2016


Three key lessons show how to achieve success in national fight against cancer.

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

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

At the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, we are proud to be part of the global fight against cancer.

As researchers and clinicians, we know that this fight is one of the most complex and important endeavors that humanity has undertaken, and we are proud to do our part.

We applaud the collaborative spirit of the recommendations outlined for the National Cancer Moonshot in the National Cancer Advisory Board's Blue Ribbon Panel Report. We believe that with a collaborative mindset, the right tools and appropriate funding, the National Cancer Moonshot will be well-positioned for success.

As the world's first and largest integrated group practice, Mayo Clinic has more than 150 years of experience in successful collaborations that have improved the lives of patients. As plans for the National Cancer Moonshot more forward, we strongly recommend that our elected officials also consider the following lessons we have learned that have been fundamental to our success in providing lifesaving and life-improving innovations for patients.

1. Breakthroughs don't happen in a vacuum

Winning the war on cancer can't be done in isolation. Instead, we must harness the combined efforts of our most talented scientists, clinicians and advocates, and everyone else willing to dedicate efforts to solving this problem that has touched us all.

2. Breakthroughs require a bench-to-bedside approach

Ideas and inspiration aren't enough to find cures. Hypotheses must be tested and refined. Discoveries in the lab must be translated into clinical trials. Results of these trials must be further refined and developed into treatments. Only by creating an infrastructure that supports each stage of development will breakthroughs come to market and make a difference for patients who have been or will be diagnosed with cancer today and in the years to come.

3. Breakthroughs require resources

The $1 billion that the White House has committed to the National Cancer Moonshot is a significant investment that will produce exponential benefits for our nation and others. However, the investment is small relative to what will be needed for success. We must find a way for the public and private sectors to pool resources for research and share in successes.

We truly believe that everyone succeeds through collaboration.

That is why Mayo Clinic serves as the coordinating center for Academic and Community Cancer Research United, a clinical research network of academic institutions and community oncology practices that collaborates with industry partners to develop and conduct clinical trials and investigator-written studies.

Our Cancer Center also coordinates the Phase 2 Consortium, a multicenter group that specializes in phase II clinical trials of anti-cancer agents. Member institutions are located in the United States, Asia and Australia.

And earlier this year, Mayo Clinic was tapped by the National Institutes of Health to serve as the first biobank for the national Precision Medicine Initiative. The biobank is a research repository that will hold millions of biologic samples that will provide our own researchers and those at other leading research facilities the equipment and knowledge to help understand the individual differences and factors that influence health and disease, including cancer.

We humbly offer these examples of collaboration because there is no doubt that the success of the National Cancer Moonshot depends on America's ability to foster this same commitment to patient-centered, collaborative innovation at every stage of action.

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