It’s official: Vice President Joe Biden declared that we are going to take a “moonshot” at cancer, to cure this deadly disease once and for all. To discuss this ambitious goal, Alexander Heffner, host of PBS's The Open Mind, recently interviewed Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D., dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and member of the Cancer Research Institute’s Scientific Advisory Council. One of the main pieces of this plan, Dr. Glimcher believes, depends on an area of cancer treatment known as immunotherapy, which empowers your own body to fight off cancer. But, as she stresses, more critical research funding is needed, because “the NIH budget is leading to an exit of the most talented scientists and researchers.”
Though immunotherapy has only recently begun to revolutionize cancer treatment, it actually began over 100 years ago with a New York City physician named William B. Coley, M.D., who is credited as the Father of Immunotherapy. Coley’s daughter, Helen Coley Nauts, also founded the Cancer Research Institute in 1953. However, Coley’s ideas were often ridiculed and ignored, and it wasn’t until decades after his death and the Cancer Research Institute’s founding that the ideas underpinning immunotherapy began to be validated and translated into treatments that are improving the lives of previously incurable patients.
To learn more about our cancer “moonshot” and what it will take to achieve, check out Dr. Glimcher’s full interview.