2023 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting: Day 2 Overview

Many thanks to the cancer center colleagues who joined us for Day 2 of the 2023 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

The overarching theme of the day centered on AACI cancer centers' dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion, from dismantling barriers to cancer care to seeing the human being behind the patient.

AACI's incoming president, Dr. Robert A. Winn, opened the day with a preview of his presidential initiative, which aims to develop and promote inclusive excellence by examining methods through which AACI members can foster partnerships with like-minded organizations, government agencies, and other institutions – regionally, nationally, and globally. 

He introduced the plan with a look back at AACI's history and accomplishments, noting how far the association has come in size, scope, and diversity since its founding in 1959. Dr. Winn also acknowledged the significance of his presidency, saying, "I stand here today as the first person of color to be your president."

Today's general sessions covered strategies for dismantling barriers to cancer care enhancing diversity at AACI cancer centers; expanding oncology programs and activities on a global scale; innovative research at AACI's basic science cancer centers; and the value of collaboration to cancer centers completing the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Cancer Center Support Grant.

Four AACI awards were presented today:

Patricia LoRusso, DO, leader of the Early Phase Clinical Trials Division at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, received AACI’s Distinguished Scientist Award. She presented a heartwarming and gripping personal account of her clinical research career. Dr. LoRusso was integrally involved in the early development of more than two dozen anti-cancer agents that are now FDA approved and has pioneered trial designs that have led to more efficient clinical drug development strategies.

The Cancer Health Equity Award went to Amelie Ramirez, DrPH, MPH, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at UT Health San Antonio. As leader of the community outreach and engagement team at Mays Cancer Center, Dr. Ramirez has implemented changes that have improved equity and diversity in cancer clinical trial recruitment.

Dana Dornsife, founder and chief mission and strategy officer of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, was honored with the Champion for Cures Award. Her philanthropy supports community outreach and engagement efforts to increase access to cancer care and clinical trials in minority and disadvantaged communities, "making cancer health disparities a thing of the past." 

AACI's Public Service Award was presented to U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and

U.S. Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL). Noting that cancer research is key to innovation, Sen. Klobuchar assured attendees that their work does not go unrecognized by Congress. "There are people who have your backs and see you as the pinnacle of what needs to be done," she said. Rep. Dunn commented on the "unbelievable advances" in cancer treatment and reminded attendees that what they do is important and not to "hide it from Washington."

Day 2 was capped off with a vendor presentation by Triomics and an evening hospitality event supported by Florence.

Please join us tomorrow for the third and final day of the meeting, which will include sessions on the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H); improving interactions among cancer centers, elected officials, and federal agencies; simplifying clinical trial activation; and a report from the principal deputy director of the NCI.

Dr. Robert A. Winn
Pegher LoRusso Sweasy
Drs. Amelie Ramirez and Ruben Mesa
Dana Dornsife and Dr. Caryn Lerman

AACI gratefully acknowledges support from the 2023 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting exhibitors and supporters.

PO Box 7317

Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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