On May 25,1961, two days before my second birthday, President Kennedy said. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon
and returning him safely to the Earth.” This was an ambitious and lofty goal. I remember having conversations with my dad about Kennedy’s space exploration program. When JFK first made this announcement there were many naysayers. People thought he was crazy that this could never be done. Landing a man on the moon only happened in Science Fiction movies.
But President Kennedy felt otherwise. He believed landing a man on the moon was an attainable goal. He said, ” I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.”
Science became a priority in schools and the entire nation was mesmerized by the space race. I remember watching our black and white TV that had bunny ears that were wrapped in aluminum foil hoping the horizontal hold will keeping the picture from rolling as the astronauts from Project Mercury, Gemini and Apollo accomplished one goal after the next.- splashdown, EVAs, rendez-vous, docking, and orbiting the moon. Network TV was also took part in this national mission. The TV shows of my yesteryear were I Dream of Jeannie,My Favorite Martian Lost in Space and The Jetsons. I even wanted to be the first women “astronet” ( a woman astronaut).
Then on July 20,1969 with the entire world watching Neil Armstrong took the first step on the moon speaking his imfamous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Mission accomplished! I never became the first woman astronaut-that was Sally Ride or participated in the coveted Teacher in Space program ( this program was put on hold after the Challenger disaster), but I did learn at a very young age that lofty goals are attainable with hard work, collaboration, perseverance, innovation and goal setting.
On October 6, 2015, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong met with Vice President Joe Biden and his staff at the White House and shared a white paper “Precision Medicine Against Cancer: The Path to Transform Our Healthcare System through N=1”. This was the birth of Moonshot 2020.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong said, “In the way that JFK took us to the moon, this Administration has the opportunity to complete its own moonshot moment: A personalized and revolutionized healthcare system – completely changed for the rest of time, with electronically connected consumers receiving the right care at the right time and the right place. With the advent of next generation genomic sequencing and precision immunotherapies, the exciting possibility of bringing 21st century precision medicine to patients today is very real. Imagine the possibility of creating patient-specific cancer vaccines that can treat and prevent the recurrence of cancer.”
The ultimate goal of Cancer is to win the war on cancer — to get to a point in the very near future when cancer is managed the same way other chronic disease, such as diabetes or asthma are managed. Moonshot 2020 seeks to accelerate the potential of combination immunotherapy as the next generation standard of care in cancer patients. This initiative aims to explore a new paradigm in cancer care by initiating randomized Phase II trials in patients at all stages of disease in 20 tumor types in 20,000 patients within the next 36 months. These findings will inform Phase III trials to develop an effective vaccine-based immunotherapy to combat cancer by 2020.
This lofty goal can only be accomplished with hard work, collaboration, perseverance, innovation and goal setting – the same way President Kennedy’s original Moonshot Initative was accomplished. The level of collaboration across pharma, community and academic oncology, government, scientific communities and patients within Cancer MoonShot 2020 is absolutely unprecedented. Researchers need to work together and share their findings building on successes and learning from failures. Oncologists both at academic centers and in the community need to enroll patients in clinical trials, patients need to be part of trials and government and private funding is essential. We are all in this together.
Although I never made it into space, I am excited to be part of this new Moonshot Initiative. On Wednesday, June 29 I’ll be headed to Washington, DC to participated in Vice President Moonshot Summit. This summit is designed that so that all attendees (cancer researchers, oncologists, patients, Pharma, government officials, philanthropists, adovcates and other experts) will be able to share new ideas and launch new collaborations and actions by participating in presentations, working sessions and other activities. It’s going to require millions of Americans speaking up and contributing what they’re able. I’m thrilled that the my voice representing the collective myeloma community perspective is being sought and heard.
#BCSM Chat (use both #BCSM and #cancerchat hashtags) will host a cross-cancer chat at 9 PM Eastern Time about three of the Cancer Moonshot Working Group topics
–Expanding Clinical Trials
–Enhanced Data Sharing
–Precision Prevention and Early Detection
Ideas generated can be submitted online to the Cancer Moonshot.
Cancer Moonshot events in DC and satellite locations (see agenda for DC Summit below)
#HCChat will conduct official Moonshot chat (use both #HCChat and #Moonshot hashtags) at noon Eastern Time on the topic “Will the Moonshot lead to the death of cancer?” This chat applies to all types of cancers. Special guest will be Vincent T. DeVita, Jr, MD, who was head of the NCI during Nixon’s Cancer Act and author of “The Death of Cancer.”
#LCSM Chat (use both #LCSM and #cancerchat hashtags) will host a cross-cancer chat at 8 PM Eastern Time about the remaining four Cancer Moonshot Working Group topics (check blog on #LCSM Chat website for chat details):
–Cancer Immunology and Prevention
–Tumor Evolution and Progression
Ideas generated can be submitted online to the Cancer Moonshot.
Last day to submit Moonshot ideas! The #BCSM team will work with the #LCSM team to make sure all idea raised during the collective tweet chats are submitted.
#BTSM Chat (use both #BTSM and #cancerchat hashtags) will host a cross-cancer chat at 9 PM Eastern Time about our hopes and dreams for cancer research and treatment in the futur