BETHESDA, MarylandCalling his initial months as director of the
National Cancer Institute (NCI) "absolutely exhilarating," Andrew C. von Eschen-bach, MD, described three interrelated themes that will guide his
leadership of the Institute. The three, he said at a meeting of the National
Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), are patient centricity, a more active
leadership by NCI in the National Cancer Program, and collaborations and
partnerships beyond the Institute’s usual sphere of activities.
"Simplistically stated, everything we do and consider is patient
centered," Dr. von Eschenbach said. "The mission of the NCI is to eliminate
the suffering and deaths from cancer. When we look at the incredible
complexity of our agenda and the tremendous diversity of its components, it
is extremely important that we look at all of them as means to the
elimination of the disease."
The NCI needs to maintain a balanced research portfolio that adequately
encompasses the discovery, development, and delivery to patients of new
prevention strategies, diagnostic tools, and interventions, he said. "Some
parts of the portfolio, we must take absolute responsibility for. Other
parts, particularly with regard to assuring delivery of state-of-the-art care
to all who need it, will require partnerships and collaborations," he said.
The diverse nature of the National Cancer Program, the number of
organizations within it that are pursuing solutions to the disease, and the
problems that such a diffuse effort creates extend far beyond the NCI and the
research that it funds, Dr. von Eschenbach noted. "But NCI must be at the
center of the National Cancer Program, providing the coordinating and
integrating leadership that is necessary to bring all of these components
together for an effective outcome," he added.
The three themes have shaped and molded his early tenure at NCI, Dr. von
Eschenbach said. "They will continue to serve as guideposts as we move
forward," he noted.
The NCI director also touched on several recent developments at the
Institute during his report to the NCAB.
In the appointment of Elias A. Zerhoundi, MD, as director of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. von Eschenbach said he has found a
philosophical partner. "The new NIH chief is also proactively pro patient and
emphasizes the importance of collaborations outside of the NIH," he said.