Tuesday morning I had the pleasure of welcoming more than 900 participants from 38 countries to the Global Academic Programs (GAP) conference “Global Efforts Fighting Cancer” here at Aula Medica, Karolinska Institutet.
Karolinska Institutet proudly hosts this year´s meeting, in collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center and Karolinska University Hospital. The meeting was officially opened by Helene Hellmark Knutsson, minister for higher education and research.
GAP at MD Anderson Cancer Center consists of a global network of sister institutions that join forces in the fight against cancer. Karolinska Institutet is one of these sister institutions. The GAP-event is held at MD Anderson in odd years and is hosted by a sister institution in even years. This year it is our turn.
MD Anderson Cancer Center is a world leading cancer center, excellent in both clinical research and cancer care. Our collaboration with this center has been truly inspiring and has led to joint meetings and workshops, visits and exchange, and collaborative research projects resulting in high impact publications. I spoke with several attendees who described the sister institution network as “unique” in the sense that it brings together expertise and perspectives from all over the world.
Most recent advances
This year’s GAP conference spans three full days and focuses on the most recent advances in cancer research and care. It provides a forum and an opportunity for faculty from MD Anderson and its sister institutions to develop and deepen collaborations and to exchange results and ideas. The challenges are formidable, not least in low and middle income countries. By 2030, these countries are expected to bear the brunt of the world’s cancer burden. We must ensure that these countries can take part in the advances that are made in the realm of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In few fields are health inequities as egregious as in cancer care. We must all take note of this and heed the imperative to act. The aim must be to significantly reduce the burden of cancer on the global scale, irrespective of geography and economy.
In this regard we should let us inspire and motivate by the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. While this comprehensive call to action includes many urgent priorities I would highlight four themes where the efforts of the GAP network would stand as truly unique:
- Reducing mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment
- Supporting the research and development of vaccines and medicines for communicable and noncommunicable diseases
- Increasing the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce
- Building and strengthening partnerships to enhance regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation, and enhancing knowledge sharing
Cancer research at Karolinska Institutet is at the international forefront. Through the GAP network this research will gain an even stronger international impact and help us realize KI’s mission: to contribute significantly to the improvement of human health.