The Challenge Ahead: A Message from CPRIT’s Executive Director
I am encouraged and inspired by the work CPRIT has accomplished in our first three years of operation - from recruiting some of the best scientists to Texas in search of cures, to investing in outstanding companies that will get therapeutics to the patient at a faster rate, to finding cancer precursors and early stage cancers through our life-saving prevention programs, to creating thousands of jobs and generating revenue for the State – CPRIT is making an impact on cancer in Texas. I hope you will join us in October as we recognize and celebrate these early successes at CPRIT's Innovations in Cancer Prevention and Research Conference. Register today to secure the early bird registration fee as well as discounted room rate.
Now it's time to set goals for what CPRIT should aim to accomplish over the next two to three years. If you look at the current public health landscape, you'll see that Texas is facing monumental challenges in our effort to defeat cancer. Indeed, there is much work to do.
Consider these issues as you envision the task ahead of us:
- How can we reduce the prevalence of obesity, which is associated with cancer, with 30% of the State currently reported as obese?
- How can we combat the deadly affects of tobacco on our friends and family, when the tobacco industry spends more than $850 million each year on marketing to get Texans to smoke?
- How can we dramatically improve colorectal cancer screening rates, with only 53% of Texans currently getting screened according to guidelines?
- How can we position Texas to have one of the lowest mortality rates for cervical cancer in the nation, as opposed to our current ranking as one of the highest?
Facing challenges such as these, how should we focus our efforts in Texas to fight cancer? And more specifically, what is CPRIT's role in this fight?
We first announced our "Future Directions" initiative in June, and since that time I have heard many suggestions for prioritizing our efforts here at CPRIT over the next several years. From focusing more dollars on translation and commercialization of research, to devoting more funds toward prevention programs and services, I am inspired by the amount of thought and dedication brought to these early discussions.
It's time to be innovative as we move forward in the war on cancer in Texas. It's time to think outside the box, to ask some tough questions of ourselves. What would it take to discover a cure for one or more cancers in the next few years? What would it take to get people never before screened into life-saving screening and early detection programs? What would it take to make Texas one of the leading life science industries in the country?
What are your thoughts about prioritizing CPRIT's direction for the next several years? I invite you to share your input with us by registering to attend one of our four regional meetings (Dallas, Lubbock, Houston, and San Antonio) or by sharing your feedback through our online comment tool (to be released in September).
I encourage you to be bold in your own efforts to fight cancer as we embark on the next three years of this journey. Be innovative. Be ready!