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Moon Shots Program to benefit all

Annual Report - Winter 2013


By Maria Ward McIntosh

With a pledge to accelerate advances ultimately aimed at ending all cancers, MD Anderson launched the Moon Shots Program on Sept. 21, 2012.

The initiative forges a new, more effective approach to research with great potential for widespread application.

Ronald DePinho, M.D.
Photo: John Everett

This new brand of team science and unprecedented integration and comprehensiveness — from prevention through survivorship — paves the way for eventual extension of its novel approaches to all cancer research programs at 
MD Anderson and ultimately worldwide.

To launch the program, a panel of 25 internal and external experts meticulously reviewed proposals from across the institution and selected six projects that focus on eight cancers. These are acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, lung cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast/high-grade serous ovarian cancers.

Moon shot leaders (from right) include 
Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D. (melanoma), 
Stephen Swisher, M.D. (lung), John 
Heymach, M.D., Ph.D. (lung), William 
Plunkett, Ph.D. (chronic lymphocytic 
leukemia), Michael Keating, M.B.B.S. 
(chronic lymphocytic leukemia), and 
Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D. 
(myelodysplastic syndrome and acute 
myeloid leukemia.)
Photo: F. Carter Smith

“While we pursue the first wave of moon shots, we also support additional programs with the goal of elevating them to moon shot status,” says Ronald DePinho, M.D., MD Anderson’s president. “Ultimately, we plan to apply this first-of-its-kind, goal-oriented model to eradicating every type of cancer.”

Today’s cancer experts focus increasingly on specific mutations that drive and sustain each disease and how best to target and disable them. Because certain genetic mutations arise in multiple cancers, discoveries in one cancer can lead to advances against others.

MD Anderson will use these new and promising research blueprints as the program continues groundbreaking studies — and results — for all cancers.

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