They came for “A Morning of Moon Shots” and left confident that a new day has dawned in Making Cancer History®.
More than 200 participants attended a free MD Anderson seminar in November highlighting the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented assault on cancer the institution launched in September 2012. The event was an opportunity to meet moon shot leaders and learn about the team science aimed at beating eight initial cancers — and that eventually will apply to all cancers. Guests also learned about platforms, which will provide moon shot teams with specialized infrastructure, technologies and/or processes.
Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson, greeted guests before they dispersed to breakout sessions featuring:
- Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., professor of genomic medicine and director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science, a key moon shot platform;
- Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., professor of genomic medicine, who presented on the big data platform;
- Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., section chief of Myelodysplastic Syndromes, professor of leukemia and co-leader of the myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia moon shot with Hagop M. Kantarjian, M.D., professor of leukemia;
- Jeffrey E. Gershenwald, M.D., professor of surgical oncology and co-leader of the melanoma moon shot with Michael Davies, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of melanoma medical oncology;
- Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., vice president and division head, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, who leads the cancer prevention and control platform;
- John V. Heymach, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Thoracic Medical Oncology, associate professor of thoracic/head and neck oncology and co-leader of the lung cancer moon shot with Steven G. Swisher, M.D., chair, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery;
- Michael J. Keating, M.D., professor of leukemia and co-leader of the chronic lymphocytic leukemia moon shot with William Plunkett, Ph.D., professor of experimental therapeutics;
- Anil K. Sood, M.D., professor of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine and of cancer biology and co-leader of the breast and ovarian cancers moon shot with Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Department of Systems Biology, and Mien-Chie Hung, Ph.D., chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology; and
- Timothy C. Thompson, Ph.D., professor of genitourinary medical oncology-research and co-leader of the prostate cancer moon shot with Christopher J. Logothetis, M.D., chair, Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology.
A lunch panel session generated questions and discussion among supporters eager to be a part of the ambitious endeavor. DePinho welcomed their support, stressing the importance of private philanthropy to the Moon Shots Program’s success.
“The time is now,” he said. “Together we can put these cancers in the history books.”