The Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance, a coalition of the state’s leading cancer research institutions, meets every year in early May for a lobbying initiative to engage legislators and spotlight the impact the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program has on cancer research taking place across the Commonwealth. CURE funding was established in 1998 with money the state received from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
This year’s face-to-face with cancer research leaders, lobbyists and legislators was canceled due to COVID-19, but the pandemic did not stop advocacy efforts, which were translated into Virtual CURE Lobby Day. Representatives of the member institutions met with lawmakers virtually, over the phone or video, to talk about the need for cancer research funding.
In addition, the Cancer Alliance is raising awareness about the CURE Program through a social media campaign to inform the public about the impact of cancer research on public health.
The urgency of curbing the ongoing pandemic has shifted a large chunk of the global research effort towards finding therapies and vaccines against COVID-19. Even though we are not hearing a lot about it, around the world cancer researchers continue pushing forward their diligent work to tackle a slower and more silent epidemic — cancer, which still causes millions of deaths worldwide every year.
The CURE Program supports broad-based health research to improve the health of all Pennsylvanians and works to support the allocation of a portion of the proceeds of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to cancer research, signed between various tobacco companies and states more than two decades ago.
At Wistar, CURE funding has contributed to the advancement of a non-invasive lung cancer test and new small molecules inhibitors for cancer treatment. It has also supported research by junior investigators to elucidate novel mechanisms underlying tumor initiation and therapy resistance.