Our youth are our future, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “We cannot always build the future of our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” ASCO takes this motto to heart in its effort to support young oncologists around the world to become the leaders of tomorrow. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we do know that it will be molded by well-trained, bright minds with good ideas who have the resources to be successful.
This fundamental principle is why ASCO works hard to provide support to cancer scientists both in the U.S. and abroad. Since 1984, ASCO and the Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) have funded 1,700 grants and awards, totaling more than $105 million—not just in North America but around the globe.
For example, ASCO offers a 1-year research grant of up to $20,000, the International Innovation Grant, to support novel and innovative projects that may reduce the cancer burden in local communities of low- or middle-income settings. Since 2014, we have awarded 17 International Innovation Grants to recipients in 12 countries, including four in 2017. We are proud to point to the success of earlier grantees, including Dr. Mya Thida (Myanmar) and Dr. Yanin Chávarri Guerra (Mexico). Dr. Chávarri Guerra has presented the results of her grant at both the ASCO Annual Meeting and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
Further, for 15 years, CCF has supported the International Development and Education Award (IDEA), which brings 24 young oncologists from low- and middle-income countries to the ASCO Annual Meeting. These awardees also get to visit and be mentored by a senior member oncologist from an academic institution in the U.S. or Canada.
Sadly, in 2007, an IDEA awardee from Brazil, Dr. Lina Cassols, was tragically killed in a commercial aviation accident soon after attending her first ASCO Annual Meeting. To honor her memory, ASCO and CCF created the Long-term International Fellowship (LIFE) award to promote a young faculty member from a low- or middle-income country to spend a year in research at an upper-income academic institution. We have supported 16 LIFE fellows in the last 10 years, each of whom have returned to their home institutions to continue their academic careers.
These are truly wonderful programs and if you qualify for these awards yourself, or know someone who does, I urge you to apply. Cancer knows no geographic boundaries, and ASCO will do all it can to help lessen morbidity and mortality around the world, consistent with our mission statement: “Conquering cancer through research, education, and promotion of the highest quality patient care.” Working together through ASCO we will reach our vision of "a world where cancer is prevented or cured, and every survivor is healthy."