Thursday, May 31, 2007

Friends of Cancer Research in USA TODAY


USA TODAY publishes letter to the editor on drug safety from Friends of Cancer Research Chairperson and Founder Dr. Ellen Sigal and Fox Chase Cancer Center President Dr. Robert Young

Earlier this month, USA TODAY published an editorial piece “Our view on pharmaceutical safety: Latest drug scare shows need for FDA overhaul,” (May 23, 2007) addressing the recent news over the diabetes drug Avandia, comparing it to another Vioxx. Friends Chairperson and Founder Dr. Ellen Sigal joined with Dr. Robert Young, Fox Chase Cancer President and co-author and chair of the drug safety white paper report
“Drug Safety and Drug Efficacy: Two Sides of the Same Coin,” to respond with a letter to the editor.

Published in this morning’s edition (May 31, 2007), the response stressed the reality that no drug is 100% safe or effective. It also referenced the drug safety white paper report that both Dr. Sigal and Dr. Young served as co-authors of along with 20 other authors from leading cancer and healthcare groups (

While suggesting that “the public, the media and members of Congress need to put money where their mouths are,” in terms of sufficiently funding a resource-starved and responsibility-laden agency, Dr. Sigal and Dr. Young’s letter to the editor commended recent legislation as part of the solution in saying, “Existing legislation already passed by the Senate would create post-marketing surveillance systems and increase communication, which is precisely what we could use right now to clarify the Avandia controversy. This legislation would enhance drug safety and, most important, save patients' lives.”

To view the entire letter to the editor:

To view the original editorial piece:

To view the drug safety report:

Friday, April 27, 2007

In Memory: Friends Board Member Jack Valenti

In Memory: Friends Board Member Jack Valenti

With the passing of one of America’s great media and political figures, Jack Valenti, the country has also lost one of the cancer community’s biggest supporters.

On April 26, 2007 at the age of 85, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and ex-White House aide Jack Valenti died of complications from an earlier stroke in March is is survived by his wife Mary Margaret, three children, and two grandchildren.

While Jack Valenti is remembered for a number of valuable contributions – from his role as presidential advisor to Lyndon Johnson to his leadership of the Motion Picture Industry Association (MPAA) where he instituted our modern-day ratings system, Jack Valenti was also a pioneer in bringing together the two worlds of Hollywood and The Hill to collaborate on ways to fight cancer: Under Valenti’s leadership at MPAA, Hollywood began implementing a number of different efforts to avoid and deglamorize the use of tobacco in movies and TV programs. As an active member of Friends of Cancer Research’s Board of Directors, and later an honorary advisory board member, Jack Valenti was a great supporter of our efforts. Perhaps one of the greatest highlights of his involvement in Friends was a February 1997 meeting he chaired with Friends Chair Ellen Sigal and Friends Board Member and Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing, in which he brought together all the major heads of the studios to meet with then Vice President Al Gore. Under Valenti and Lansing’s leadership, the meeting garnered participation from almost every head of every major studio: included Bob Iger, CEO of ABC; Frank Mancuso, Chairman and CEO of MGM Pictures; Lew Wasserman, Chairman Emeritus, Universal Studios; and Peter Chermin, Chairman, Twentieth Century Fox. The executives discussed ways that the entertainment industry could come together to fight cancer, including identifying celebrity advocates who could capture the attention of the public and of Congress and speak from personal experience to the need for federally funded cancer research; encouraging the creators of TV programs and films to tell the many-sided stories of cancer today, including the extraordinary stories of scientific discovery that could remove cancer as a threat to our lives; and identifying new ways the entertainment industry can help to reduce tobacco use. This meeting set the stage for the industry’s future involvement and success in raising awareness about cancer issues. Additionally, Jack Valenti was a supporter of a variety of non-profit organizations, foundations, and cancer centers dedicated to cancer and medical research including The Lasker Foundation and Johns Hopkins.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Recorded Webcast of U-Michigan Town Hall Webcast Now Available Online

The webcast from our April 11 town hall at the University of Michigan was a great success! Watch the recorded webcast online at:

It will be available at the site above for one week, at which point we will update you of the new location.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Can science stop cancer before it starts? Watch webcast on April 11 with leading cancer experts

Can science stop cancer before it starts?

April 11 town hall event to address research in cancer prevention, detection
Free public forum and live webcast to feature Rep. John Dingell, leading cancer experts

— Can a simple blood test tell you if you have cancer or are at high risk of developing cancer – long before any symptoms or signs of disease appear?

Research happening today at the University of Michigan and other leading cancer centers is bringing us to that point. New genetic markers and proteins are being discovered that can identify early signs of cancer and predict who is most at risk.

But what does this progress mean to the average person who has never been told “You have cancer”? And what barriers do we face in pursuing these new advances?

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the non-profit Friends of Cancer Research will host a special town hall open to the public at 9:30-11:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, April 11, at the U-M Medical School in Ann Arbor, to discuss the impact of research on cancer prevention and early detection. This event will be webcasted and recorded as a podcast, as well.

> Watch the webcast LIVE:

The interactive event will feature an expert panel including Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.); Max Wicha, M.D. director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center; Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; John Niederhuber, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute; and other top researchers in the area of cancer prevention.

Virtually every major cancer is far easier to cure when found at an early stage, making early detection crucial. Even more important is finding a way to prevent cancer before it develops.

“Cancer is a biological process that starts in the body years or even decades before a diagnosis is made. The ability to detect that process early or stop it altogether represents our greatest hope for significantly reducing or eliminating the suffering and death due to cancer,” says Max Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Researchers are looking at how drugs, foods and nutrients interact with cells to slow or prevent the growth of cancer, as well as identifying genes and proteins that may be used to detect cancer early or even predict a person’s future risk of cancer. Drugs or nutritional interventions can then be developed to target these genes or markers.

“The key to prevention and early detection is that we must use these methods on people who are healthy, many of whom might never get cancer. This means we must develop methods that are affordable, reliable, safe and tolerable. Significantly reducing cancer incidence and severity is absolutely possible through the successful development and use of chemoprevention and early detection,” says Ellen V. Sigal, Ph.D., chair and founder of Friends of Cancer Research, a non-profit dedicated to addressing barriers and opportunities in cancer research and cancer policy.

The town hall event, which is free and open to the public, will provide an interactive and in-depth look at promising areas in prevention and early detection from an expert panel of our nation's leaders in various fields connected to cancer research. For many of these areas, the hurdle to these advances is not the science but the funding. Funding at the National Cancer Institute – the primary source for most basic cancer research – has been virtually flat since 2003. President Bush’s FY08 budget proposes decreases the NCI’s budget by $11 million.

“Federally supported cancer research is an investment in our nation’s health and leads to fewer people dying from this disease. This message needs to be delivered to our elected officials frequently to get the point across with so many competing priorities facing our nation,” says Marlene Malek, president of Friends of Cancer Research.

What: Stopping Cancer Before It Starts: A town hall meeting, open to the public
When: 9:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 11
Where: University of Michigan Biomedical Science Research Building Auditorium, 109 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor
LIVE Webcast:
More information: or 800-865-1125

Add to Technorati Favorites