When Margaret Foti began her tenure as chief executive officer at the American Association of Cancer Research, membership totaled 3,000. Today, that number has grown to nearly 47,000, with 187 of those members at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Foti, PhD, MD (hc), provided her insight into innovation in cancer research and patient care last week during the University of Illinois Cancer Center’s Distinguished Lecture Series. The organization she has led since 1982 is “working to fundamentally change the face of cancer by being the most effective catalyst for the prevention and cure of all cancers,” she said.
The United States has experienced major progress in fighting cancer, as there has been a 27% reduction in the death rate over the past 25 years, but the disease remains a growing problem. About 2.33 million cases are expected to be reported by the year 2040, and increase of more than 500,000 cases since 2020. Research, Foti said, is the “backbone of progress against cancer and it drives every clinical advance.”
During her presentation, Foti not only provided a status of cancer and cancer research, but also detailed how important it is for a “robust and diverse” cancer workforce. “For the second time since 2004, more women than men have applied to U.S. medical schools,” she said. “Women were the majority of matriculants to medical schools for the third year in a row, and the latest data shows that medical schools in the U.S. continue to attract and enroll more racially and ethnically diverse classes.
“In light of these impressive data, the retention of women in medicine and the facilitation of their professional advancement are of great importance to quality patient care.”
The AACR plays a large role in advancing cancer science and medicine, and because the organization is a multidisciplinary scientific body, it serves as a “ripe environment for translational research, team science, and new research models that hold the potential for stimulating breakthroughs in all cancers,” she said.
Foti also outlined AACR’s strategy and responsibility for speeding innovation in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients.