Think Globally, Act Locally

Think Globally, Act Locally

Linda R. Duska, MD, MPH

Sep 19, 2019

“Think globally, act locally.”

This aphorism is so common that it risks becoming a cliché, but we cannot deny that it is incredibly relevant for our world at large and oncology in particular. Cancer knows no borders, so the people who are dedicated to conquering it must be prepared to reach across them.

ASCO and Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, have been acting locally for decades, with a robust portfolio of grants and awards that support oncology professionals around the world. Each award helps an ASCO member improve the health care systems and the lives of patients exactly where they live. Perspectives from many of the recipients are represented in this issue, including early-career professionals who recently received Global Oncology Young Investigator Awards and researchers developing inventive solutions to key local challenges with the help of International Innovation Grants. The outcomes of these projects will have a local impact in the recipient’s community and a global impact as the results are disseminated and new knowledge is shared.

2019 International Development and Education Award recipient Dr. Frederick Ivan L. Ting shares a personal account of his award-supported visit to Indiana University, including pearls of wisdom from his mentor Dr. Lawrence Einhorn that will inform the care of patients in the Philippines, Dr. Ting’s home.

Acting locally means sweating the details, even down to the level of the words we use and the cultural context in which we communicate. Dr. Aju Mathew describes how misperceptions about the concept of overdiagnosis have had serious repercussions for patients and medical professionals in Kerala, India.

Acting locally is about speaking out on issues in your city, state, and country that affect people living with cancer and the professionals who care for them, as leaders of ASCO, NCCN, and ASH did on behalf of individuals who need access to essential pain medications. It means having meaningful one-on-one conversations in the clinic about tough issues like precision medicine accessibility, as patient advocate Martha E. Gaines discusses.

As an ASCO member, you are part of an incredible team of local actors, a constellation of nearly 45,000 bright points of empathy and expertise across the map. But there are over 7.5 billion people on this planet, living in communities that will all be affected by cancer in some way. As a profession, we have to think bigger.

And so, ASCO is on the forefront of a new approach to thinking globally, as it and its members play a growing role in the development of global oncology as a true academic discipline. Imagine a world in which global oncology is studied as rigorously as hematology/oncology, palliative medicine, or public health. Imagine what might be accomplished by even one generation of oncology professionals who are comprehensively trained and institutionally supported in their mission to improve cancer outcomes and care delivery around the globe. Imagine the research questions that could be investigated, the collaborations that would emerge, and the transformation that we might witness.

ASCO can imagine this future, and in fact it is coded into the official vision statement: “A world where cancer is prevented or cured, and every survivor is healthy.” By thinking globally and acting locally—cliché as it may be—we can all contribute to making this vision a reality.


The ideas and opinions expressed on the ASCO Connection Blogs do not necessarily reflect those of ASCO. None of the information posted on is intended as medical, legal, or business advice, or advice about reimbursement for health care services. The mention of any product, service, company, therapy or physician practice on does not constitute an endorsement of any kind by ASCO. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of the material contained in, posted on, or linked to this site, or any errors or omissions.

Back to Top