Dr. Will Parsons, a pediatric oncologist at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer Center, was among a group of cancer researchers who met with the office of Vice President Joe Biden on Jan. 8 in Washington, D.C., in response to the vice president’s quest for “a moon shot in this country to cure cancer.”
The panel of 15 researchers and physician-scientists, who are among the most prestigious in the nation, was convened by the American Association for Cancer Research to meet with the vice president’s office to help realize his goal of making “an absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today.”
“The oncology community is very appreciative of Vice President Biden’s focus on cancer research as a national priority,” Parsons said. “I’m particularly excited about the potential of the Precision Medicine Initiative to improve care for children with cancer.”
Parsons is co-director of the Brain Tumor Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, co-director of the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program and director of the Pediatric Center for Personal Cancer Genomics and Therapeutics at Baylor. He specializes in the treatment of children with brain and spinal cord tumors, while his research has led to the characterization of the genetic landscape of a variety of pediatric and adult cancers, including the identification of critical genes in glioma and medulloblastoma brain tumors.
In addition, Parsons’ research program focuses on the clinical application of genomic technologies in pediatric cancer care. He is the co-principal investigator with Dr. Sharon Plon of Baylor on the Baylor Advancing Sequencing in Childhood Cancer Care, or BASIC3, study, a National Human Genome Research Institute and National Cancer Institute project to examine the usefulness of tumor and germline whole exome sequencing in children newly diagnosed with certain cancers.
The panel of experts highlighted to the Vice President’s office the considerable progress in cancer research that has led to new potential in areas such as precision medicine and immunotherapy. Parsons and the other AACR members discussed their areas of cancer expertise and offered insight into priorities that can help achieve the vice president’s moon shot vision to cure cancer.
Also discussed were initiatives spearheaded by the AACR, including Project GENIE (Genomics, Evidence, Neoplasia, Information, Exchange), which aims to facilitate clinical decision-making by linking the genetic profiles of tumors with clinical outcomes, and the AACR Cancer Progress Report, an annual chronicle of the progress made against cancer as told firsthand through the stories of cancer survivors.