To ensure academic cancer centers are able to thrive well into the future, we need to do a better job of explaining the unique role they play to the broad range of constituents, including patients, payers, policy makers, university leadership, community oncology partners, and the general public.
—George J. Weiner, MD
The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) is developing a marketing campaign to highlight the value of academic cancer centers to their communities and the nation. Called “The Academic Difference,” the 2-year campaign is the initiative of AACI President George J. Weiner, MD, Director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. In the first phase of the project, AACI is gathering information from its member institutes to demonstrate the many accomplishments of the centers, Dr. Weiner said in his presidential address at the AACI Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in November.
“Academic cancer centers have a major and unique role to play in enhancing cancer science, cancer care, and cancer education. This role will increase in value as our understanding of the complexity of cancer grows and is applied to care of patients,” Dr. Weiner said. “Accelerating progress in cancer medicine will remain dependent on the success of academic cancer centers and development of new models of collaboration between academic cancer centers and community oncology. To ensure academic cancer centers are able to thrive well into the future, we need to do a better job of explaining the unique role they play to the broad range of constituents, including patients, payers, policy makers, university leadership, community oncology partners, and the general public.”
The AACI project identified four areas in which academic cancer centers play a unique role in their communities, their states, and the nation, Dr. Weiner said: cancer research, clinical care, medical education, and economic impact.
The first phase of the project entails gathering and sharing the accomplishments that AACI and its members can use in advocating for support at the local and national levels, Dr. Weiner said. The project will not ask AACI member centers to generate new data or share confidential information, and nor will it conduct an extensive survey, he added.
In the second phase of the project, AACI plans to enlist the help of cancer center directors, public relations and government relations staff from cancer centers, and marketing professionals to develop messaging and materials. Marketing would be targeted to the public and patients, university and cancer center boards, payers, political leaders, corporations, and Chambers of Commerce.
Dr. Weiner listed some of the examples that AACI members have submitted for the project. He invited centers to continue to send these types of accomplishments to the AACI office.
AACI Awards for Science, Public Service
At the Annual Meeting, AACI presented the 2015 AACI Distinguished Scientist Award to Lewis C. Cantley, PhD, a cell biologist and biochemist who serves as The Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Oncology Research and Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Cantley’s research has resulted in revolutionary treatments for cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
Sen. Patty Murray (D–WA) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R–KS) received the 2015 AACI Public Service Award. Reps. Fred Upton (R–MI) and Diana DeGette (D–CO) received the 2015 AACI Champion for Cures Award in recognition of their work on H.R. 6—21st Century Cures Act—which prescribes mandatory funding of $8.75 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $550 million for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the next 5 years. ■
Disclosure: Drs. Weiner and Cantley reported no potential conflicts of interest.