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Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center hosted a Cancer Community Town Hall Sept. 21. Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, YCC director and Smilow physician-in-chief, moderated a panel discussion with (l-r): U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy; Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, chief of Medical Oncology, Smilow and YCC; Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, Yale School of Medicine; Craig Crews, PhD, executive director, Yale Center for Molecular Discovery; and Ranjit Bindra, MD, PhD, associate professor of therapeutic radiology, Yale School of Medicine.

Cancer experts, U.S. senators discuss breakthroughs and barriers in research, care

Democrats and Republicans may be far apart on a number of issues, but during a Sept. 21 Cancer Community Town Hall at Yale New Haven Hospital, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said there’s at least one key initiative that’s received bipartisan support for more than two decades.

Congress has voted repeatedly to increase National Institutes of Health funding for research, including cancer research grants the NIH has distributed to organizations such as Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) noted during the Town Hall, “Cancer shows no mercy.”

The Town Hall included a panel discussion among Smilow and Yale experts, who highlighted the importance and challenges of cancer drug development, team science, federal funding, the cost of care and other topics. One clear message the senators heard from panelists: Make it easier and faster to access funding for research.

“That will lead to discoveries that we can translate into new medicines,” said Craig Crews, PhD, executive director, Yale Center for Molecular Discovery.

The Smilow and YCC Town Hall was one of more than 450 community summits held nationwide Sept. 21, in conjunction with a national Biden Cancer Summit convened by former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. The couple established the Biden Cancer Initiative in 2017, two years after their son Beau died of brain cancer at age 46. The initiative’s mission is to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research and care and reduce disparities in cancer outcomes.