Before we move forward on this one, I would like to vent a bit.  Curing cancer?  What a radical idea!  Working in teams?  Mmm, let’s see.  Oh yes, I had my middle school students practicing that almost 30 years ago.

Yep.  Glad someone decided curing cancer is a good idea!  And the government is on board…  Oops!  Sequester budget cuts will put a damper on that one.

Like most things in life, you can spin this either way.  One way:  How exciting!  Cancer research and our quest for a cure is shifting into fifth gear!

Or another way:  WHAT TOOK YOU ALL SO LONG!

Here’s the thing.  You can’t cure cancer.  Cancer isn’t one disease; its hundreds!  So why don’t scientists fess-up and admit they need to research this one deadly, stubborn disease at a time?


Here’s an excerpt from Time Magazine’s feature story that has gotten me all bent-out-of-shape:

Cancer Dream Teams: Road to a Cure?

By Bill Saporito – March 21, 2013

Group-think is that latest trend in cancer research. This week’s cover story, available to subscribers here, explains why such team efforts are becoming a necessity, and why it hasn’t always been this way.

Scientists used to think they knew a lot about how cancer works, and they do. But only over the last couple of years, led by major advances in genomics, have they been able to truly understand the biological workings of this leading killer. And the knowledge has been both helpful and humbling. Cancer, it turns out, is way more complex than many scientists imagined. And it has raised the question of whether the research paradigm we use to attack cancer needs an overhaul.  Group science may be the better model for fighting cancer over the traditional approach of a narrowly focused investigator beavering away, one small grant at a time.

That’s been the premise behind Stand Up 2 Cancer’s Dream Team approach and it is gaining traction. In 2008 a group including Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2011; Katie Couric, who lost her husband to colon cancer in 1998; and former Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing founded SU2C with the goal of attacking cancer the way you make a movie: bring the best and most talented people together, fund them generously, oversee their progress rigorously and shoot for big payoffs―on a tight schedule…

I don’t want to run too much of Time’s copyrighted article here now–I might get in trouble.  So here’s a link if you would like to read more:

You may even want to pick-up a copy of this week’s Time at the store.  A lot more than you can read here or online; without a subscription, that is.  I’m glad scientists are looking at the big picture.  I have been critical of drug companies for not doing that.  Trying to make their shareholders happy next week, month or year and not swinging for the fences.

But the longer I cover cancer research, the more I realize that–like most wars–this one is fought in the trenches, test tube by test tube and clinical trial by clinical trial.

That said, if splashy stories help get our lawmakers off their butts and pushing for more–not less–funding for cancer research, I’m on board.  Plus, excited contributors tend to dig deeper in their pockets and donate more.  So hooray for that, too.

Good luck to these new teams!  Here’s hoping that funding keeps flowing and they can harness technology and get it working for us so the process speeds-up and successes begin to outnumber the failures.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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