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MD Anderson Cancer Center Launches Moon Shots Initiative

September 21, 2012

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced the launch of the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented initiative to accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.

Even as the number of cancer survivors is expected to reach an estimated 11.3 million by 2015, according to the American Cancer Society, cancer remains one of the most destructive and vexing diseases. An estimated 100 million people worldwide are expected to lose their lives to cancer in this decade alone. The disease’s devastation to humanity now exceeds that of cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis, HIV and malaria – combined. The Moon Shots Program is designed as a “disruptive paradigm” that brings together the best attributes of both academia and medicine by creating cross-functional professional teams working in a goal-oriented, milestone-driven manner to convert knowledge into tests, devices, drugs and policies that can benefit

The Moon Shots Program takes its inspiration from President John Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech, made
50 years ago at Rice University, just a mile from the main MD Anderson campus. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade … because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win,” Kennedy said.

“Generations later, the Moon Shots Program signals our confidence that the path to curing cancer is in
clearer sight than at any other time in history,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., MD Anderson’s president.
“Humanity urgently needs bold action to defeat cancer. I believe that we have many of the tools we need
to pick the fight of the 21st century. Let’s focus our energies on approaching cancer comprehensively and
systematically, with the precision of an engineer, always asking … ‘What can we do to directly impact

The program, initially targets eight cancers, and brings together multidisciplinary groups of MD Anderson researchers and clinicians to tackle the cmprehensive attacks on:
• acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome;
• chronic lymphocytic leukemia;
• melanoma;
• lung cancer;
• prostate cancer, and
• triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers – two cancers linked at the molecular level.

Six teams, representing these eight cancers, were selected based on rigorous criteria that assess
not only the current state of scientific knowledge of the disease across the entire cancer care continuum
from prevention to survivorship, but also the strength and breadth of the assembled teams and the
potential for near-term measurable success in terms of cancer mortality.


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