The Importance of Funding Cancer Research

Why is funding cancer research important?

Funding Cancer Research

Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz discusses the need for funding cancer research. Much of the success in the fight against cancer in the United States has been a result of the Nixon Cancer Act of the 1970s. This act was fundamental in developing cancer centers with doctors from different disciplines working together to find better treatment options for cancer patients. The drugs Erbitux, Avastin, and Vectibix are are successes of this investment into the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH is currently under significant financial stress. Philanthropic support from organizations like The WunderGlo Project is needed to maintain and expand research opportunities and to continue funding cancer research.

Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD: We are living in a very difficult time of financial crisis as you all know and I am sure live in the middle of it. It is absolutely critical to have funding to move research forward. With no funding, research will not lead to the success we are all hoping for.

One of the reasons the United States has been so successful in developing most of the effective drugs in colon cancer is because of the Nixon Cancer Act in the 70s. Because that was the basis to develop comprehensive cancer centers with a goal to get basic scientists, epidemiologists, clinical scientists together to work on the goal to find better treatment options and hopefully the cure. The drugs you are getting today, if it’s the Erbitux, or the Avastin, or the Vectibix, are results and success of this investment from the NIH. These drugs today are sold per year one, two, three billion dollars worth. All the investment over the last 20 to 30 years are now earned in one or two years.

We need to invest in research to drive cancer research forward and make available and possible the development of new drugs such as the drugs we focus here in the WunderGlo project. Because the NIH is under a significant financial stress, we need philanthropic support to maintain and expand our research opportunities in the academic centers around the country. We have opened up and collaborated with all centers in the US, in Europe, and Japan to really make the best out of this funding and to make discoveries which hopefully changes the life of all patients with cancer.

Heinz-Josef Lenz
Heinz-Josef Lenz, M.D., FACP, is the Associate Director for Clinical Research and Co-Leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Lenz is Professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, Section Head of GI Oncology in the Division of Medical Oncology and Co-Director of the Colorectal Center at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

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