National Cancer Insitute Director's Address
Dr. Richard Klausner, Director of the National Cancer Institute since August 1995, was today inducted into the membership of ASCO by Dr. John Glick, outgoing president of ASCO. He addressed a packed Exhibit Hall in Philadelphia's Convention Center; parts of his speech follow. (Portions of the speech will be placed online in RealAudio format shortly.)
The focus of this lecture the role of the National Cancer Institute in the world of cancer research and therapy.
What is the NCI?
"First and foremost, the NCI is an institution of science. Not just an institution that supports science, but an institution that in its processes and in its culture, in its workings and its behavior must reflect the behaviors of science: openness to ideas; conclusions based on evidence but not belief; an authority that derives from the power of evidence, and not the power of position or authority."The NCI's goals:
- To recognize the creativity that emerges from the individual investigator;
- To ensure that the infrastructure exists to address the questions raised by research, and to determine how research can best benefit patients;
- To create bureaucratic-free mechanisms that facilitate discovery rather than create problems for the community they serve, and;
- To identify those areas which are most productive and discover those areas which we must achieve success in if we are to prevent and treat these diseases.
"The decisions [made by the NCI] will affect all of you. The decisions that we make, therefore, must be made with the input of the communities that we will affect, or you will not accept them. The landscape of science is changing. It can and it must change... Some of these changes are profound. Some of them should affect our fundamental ideas about cancer, its development, and how we understand it works. Some are altering our very approach to discovery, and to its application."
"We have not won the war on cancer. This is the most common question I am asked. Why? The answer is simple: it is not because we made the wrong choices, because we established the wrong policies, focused too much on treatment and too little on prevention, those are not the arguments. We have not won the war on cancer because it is such an enormously complex problem. We have made promises that we couldn't keep. We have made too much of hype, when what science produces is hope..."