The Promise of Genomics

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George W. Sledge, Jr, MD

My year as President of ASCO was one of momentous change, not just for ASCO, but for health care and for cancer biology as well. The theme of my Presidency was Patients, Pathways, and Progress. “Pathways” referred to the molecular pathways that are becoming increasingly important in the targeted treatment of cancer and to the research pathways through which new drugs are developed. “Progress” referred to the advances that have been made in the treatment of cancer, but also took into account our future commitments to our patients through our continued passion for clinical cancer research, the increased understanding of cancer molecular biology that lead to research advances, and our strong belief that progress requires continued commitment from governments around the world to support cancer research in the lab and in the clinic.

During my Presidential address at ASCO’s 47th Annual Meeting, I talked about meeting the challenges of the genomic era as a profession in several ways, including through a well-trained and motivated workforce, a vibrant clinical trials system, and a rapid learning system for oncology.

I stated that as we go forward in this genomic era, we must also look back. Back to the humane standards that have forever guided our profession. Back to our belief that patients always come first. Back to the realization that the pathways forward always flow from that which is best in the human spirit: our thirst for useful knowledge, our compassion for our fellow beings, and our belief in their essential dignity. ■

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