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For some time, childhood cancer advocates have been seeking the appointment of a pediatric oncologist to the National Cancer Advisory Board (“NCAB”). On June 18, 2015 this palpable absence was finally brought to a close with the announcement that Peter Adamson, MD was being appointed to the NCAB. The NCAB is charged with assisting the Director of the National Cancer Institute (“NCI”) with the National Cancer Program, including reviewing and approving grants that are awarded by NCI. This is a second level review.

Up until this point, childhood cancer advocates have worked hard to gain representation on the NCAB to ensure the perspectives of the community were addressed. Efforts to achieve such an appointment have been underway with advocates interfacing with the White House Office of Public Engagement for quite some time. Those efforts by the childhood cancer community included Max Cure. From early on in the process, Jonathan Agin, Director, External Affairs was involved with a small group of advocates working together with the Office of Public Engagement to discuss and address some of the overall needs of the childhood cancer community. Numerous issues were discussed, including the lack of a pediatric oncologist on the NCAB. In September 2014, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a historic meeting was held at the White House to further engage many advocates into the process.

Ultimately, the Max Cure Foundation was well represented with Jonathan and Richard Plotkin being present. Thankfully, Dr. Adamson’s appointment signals a welcome change to makeup of the NCAB and a hopeful focused eye upon finding and funding research that will truly make a difference for many children to come.

Dr. Adamson is the current head of the Children’s Oncology Group and has been an attending physician in the Division of Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (“CHOP”) since 1999. The list of Dr. Adamson’s positions and honors is quite significant; however where Dr. Adamson excels most for the childhood cancer community is through his absolute dedication to advocate on behalf of children with cancer. Dr. Adamson frequently can be heard providing impassioned words of encouragement to the advocacy community to continue on our mission. The Max Cure Foundation is thrilled with his selection and we look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Adamson and so many others who insisted on the appointment of a pediatric oncologist to the NCAB.

Gregory Aune, MD, pediatric oncologist from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Gregory Aune, MD, pediatric oncologist from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In addition to Dr. Adamson’s appointment to the NCAB, earlier in 2014 Gregory Aune, MD, a pediatric oncologist from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and himself a childhood cancer survivor was nominated by NCI to sit on the NCI Council of Research Advocates. The focus of the NCRA is on addressing research related issues, increasing community outreach and improving research collaboration. I was privileged to have Dr. Aune sitting alongside me in a meeting with Harold Varmus, MD, the former NCI Director as we discussed research priorities for NCI in relation to childhood cancer. The takeaway is that the community is gaining ground and our voices are being heard. The work has just begun.

Author: Jonathan Agin, Director, External Affairs
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanagin