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Tulane and The Cancer Moonshot

Friday, April 29, 2016

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Dear Tulane Community,

Last week I joined Vice President (and former Tulane parent) Joe Biden as he toured University Medical Center New Orleans and met with cancer doctors, caregivers and patients. The visit was part of the vice president's work as leader of the National Cancer Moonshot, an ambitious, multi-faceted effort to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the more than 100 types of cancer that menace the human family.

In announcing the moonshot in January with a $1 billion initial commitment, President Obama emphasized the need to break down barriers and facilitate collaboration among researchers, doctors, philanthropists, patients, biotechnology firms and pharmaceutical companies.

Breaking down barriers and encouraging collaborations, of course, is what Tulane is all about. The Tulane Cancer Center includes researchers, faculty and physicians from the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane National Primate Research Center and the uptown campus. Many of these researchers work in open labs where there are no walls (literal or figurative) between the flow of information and ideas from a wide array of fields.

This kind of collaboration has enabled Tulane to play a leading role in the development of cancer drugs. It has made us a center for adult stem cell transplants for cancer patients, a pioneer in studying cancer risks from exposure to light at night and home to an exceptionally strong program in genetic instability and cancer.

Collaboration across fields has allowed us to build world-class teams focused on viruses and cancer, and to study in-depth the disparity of cancer treatment and outcomes in underserved populations. Collaboration across disciplines also enables Tulane to provide comprehensive care for cancer patients and helps us better prepare the next generation of cancer researchers and physicians.

All of us can collaborate in the fight against cancer, as well, by adopting healthy lifestyles and taking advantage of the free screenings offered by the Tulane Cancer Center. We can also raise money for cancer research by participating in fun events like the upcoming Pink Bra Run that will benefit Tulane Cancer Center and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The first moonshot resulted in one of humankind's greatest achievements. The goal of this moonshot – the end of cancer as we know it – offers an ever greater challenge and benefit. I am proud that the vice president has recognized Tulane as a leader and partner in this effort.

Signature of Mike Fitts