Following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, the White House Chief Science and Technology Advisor Arati Prabhakar visited Chapel Hill today to discuss the fight against cancer at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The White House tapped UNC Lineberger, which received Cancer Moonshot funding in 2017 and 2020, for its leadership, its depth of translational research, and as a model of progress in several key areas, especially cancer prevention, early detection and outcomes-based research funded through the National Cancer Institute.
UNC Lineberger director Dr. Shelley Earp provided an overview of UNC Lineberger’s role as North Carolina’s public comprehensive cancer center to reduce the burden of cancer across the state, from basic scientific drug development to researching and providing promising immunotherapies for patients, before introducing three groups of researchers from across campus:
- The Moonshot-initiated Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Programs:Dr. Adam Goldstein, director of the UNC Tobacco Intervention and professor of family medicine; and Kurt Ribisl, co-lead of the UNC Lineberger Cancer Prevention and Control, and professor and chair of behavioral health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
- The Moonshot-initiated Cancer Screening efforts:Stephanie Wheeler, associate director of UNC Lineberger Community Outreach & Engagement, and professor of health policy and management at the UNC Gillings; and Dr. Daniel Reuland, co-director of the Carolina Cancer Screening Initiative and professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.
- Cancer, Nutrition and Obesity, Endometrial Cancer as a Focus:Dr. Victoria Bae-Jump, director of the UNC Lineberger Endometrial Cancer Center of Excellence and professor of gynecologic oncology at the UNC School of Medicine; and Marissa Hall, assistant professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings.
During each conversational session, Prabhakar engaged each researcher with pertinent questions about the problems our country faces because of cancer and how to best address these issues through better access to tobacco cessation programs, better ways to reduce obesity to decrease endometrial cancers, and how to leverage population health data and technology to reduce cancer rates.
“Working on solutions to cancer is one of the most important things we can do, and these solutions are so important to the president and first lady,” she said. “They have the conviction to tackle this, and that’s one of the reasons I took this job.”
She added, “I’m heartened by the progress you’ve made, and we all know we need to do more. It was just such a pleasure to dig in and see the quality of work and commitment you bring to this work.”