Researchers participate in Advocacy Day 2011

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Researchers participate in Advocacy Day 2011

Ken Olive, PhD (2011 Tempur-Pedic Retailers® -- Pancreatic Cancer Action Network -- AACR Career Development Award) with a group of New York advocates

Every attendee at the annual Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Advocacy Day comes armed with the same weapon: an intense, passionate hatred of pancreatic cancer. Some are currently fighting it themselves; too many are representing loved ones who have already lost their battles. Sharing the passion are members of the pancreatic cancer medical and scientific communities. These individuals provide the unique perspective of being among the few dedicating their careers to knowing, fighting, and ending pancreatic cancer.

Storming Capitol Hill and demanding increased research funding for pancreatic cancer holds extra meaning for these researchers. As Jonathan Brody, PhD (2010 Skip Viragh – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Career Development Award) stated, “If [pancreatic cancer] funding continues like this, researchers like myself might have to close up shop.” Not only is increased research funding imperative for clinical progress in this devastating disease, but it is also necessary to support and sustain the professional livelihood of brilliant, devoted researchers.

A constituent who joined Dr. Brody in meetings pointed out, “I believe you made a huge difference at the meetings because you are the only one there representing the research, and none of us could adequately cover that, nor would we have the credibility that comes with your reputation and credentials.” As much as the volunteers were impressed by the researchers, the reciprocal was evident as well. Rebekah White, MD (2007 Seena Magowitz – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Career Development Award) pointed out, “It would be easier [for those who have lost loved ones] to sit around and grieve, but these people are trying to change things, even though the changes may not benefit them personally.” Gloria Su, PhD (2010 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Innovative Grant and 2007 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Pilot Grant) commented that meeting the families was the best part of Advocacy Day: “The families and advocates are wonderful people; they make you want to do a lot more.”

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network strives to support the pancreatic cancer scientific community by providing direct research funding to highly deserving investigators throughout the country. However, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) supplies the vast majority of funding for cancer research in the U.S. Among the major goals of Advocacy Day and the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act is to encourage the NCI to allocate more funding for pancreatic cancer research. Zeshaan Rasheed, MD, PhD (2010 Tempur-Pedic Retailers® – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Pathway to Leadership Grant) said, “I think that for 500+ people to be on the Hill and asking representatives to maintain (or increase) [NCI] funding has to have some effect.”

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