On Earth Day, this Saturday, April 22, the March for Science will bring people together globally to celebrate science in Washington, D.C., and at over 400 sites and 37 countries around the world. Participants will include those passionate about the importance of pancreatic cancer research. Today we proudly share why two superstar pancreatic cancer scientists will march on Saturday.
Why I March
Howard Crawford, PhD
I march because federal funding for research plays a critical role in allowing us to develop effective treatments for people facing pancreatic cancer.
In order to devise the therapies we will use in clinical trials, there has to be research to better understand the unique biology of the disease. For instance, without researchers funded to understand the basics of the immune system, there would be no such thing as immunotherapy, where we try to boost the patient’s own immune system to kill their own cancer – and this is the most promising development in cancer treatment in decades.
Unfortunately, immunotherapy in its current form hasn’t worked that well against pancreatic cancer, for reasons we are just beginning to understand. So, without continued funding for basic pancreatic cancer research, we won’t even get the chance to fulfill the promise of immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients.
Looking back to 15 years ago, funding for pancreatic cancer research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) incentivized researchers from other fields, including myself, to consider a career in pancreatic cancer. The current proposed budget cuts to the NIH would discourage our current graduate students and postdocs from continuing their careers researching any sort of cancer, and especially a difficult one to study like pancreatic cancer.
Imagine not only the loss of those future researchers and the amazing discoveries they might make. Imagine also taking all of the knowledge that we’ve accumulated and built upon over those past 15 years and doing next to nothing with it.
So, I’ll march on Saturday to send the message that science and biomedical research are necessary to support careers and enhance knowledge, and because pancreatic cancer patients – and all cancer patients – can’t afford for us to slow or stop potentially lifesaving progress.
Howard Crawford, PhD, is a professor in the departments of molecular & integrative physiology and internal medicine at the University of Michigan and a member of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Crawford will travel from Michigan to Washington DC to participate in the March for Science!
Why I March
Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA
I march for science because patients and families facing pancreatic cancer deserve better treatments and early detection methods now. And the only way to improve outcomes is to conduct basic, translational, and clinical research. Pancreatic cancer does not wait, so we can’t either.
From the standpoint of the science, we now know so much more about the biology of pancreatic tumors. Currently, pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of all major cancers, at just 9 percent. We’ve finally begun to truly understand why pancreatic cancer is such a biological and clinical challenge – and now is the time to begin to translate those findings to patient benefit.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s comprehensive strategy to fight pancreatic cancer includes increasing both federal and private research funding. This approach gives our research community real power and synergy to fight pancreatic cancer from multiple directions.
This weekend’s march is one of many ways we can stand up for the importance of research in general and pancreatic cancer research in particular as a national priority. It’s a reminder that science touches all of our lives.
Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, is the chief science officer of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Network. Dr. Matrisian will participate in the March for Science in Washington, D.C.
Why will you march for science?
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