President’s Perspective

The Eliminate Cancer Initiative


William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center. William F. McKeon, President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (photo: Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle)
By William F. McKeon | August 30, 2018

Throughout history, civilization has struggled to cope with cancer.

The ancient Egyptians were the first to identify and document the disease around 3000 B.C., according to the American Cancer Society. Interestingly, Egyptian writings describe cancer as a condition for which “there is no treatment.” More than 2,500 years later, the Greek physician Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, used the terms “carcinos” and “carcinoma” to describe cancer cells that form and expand like the legs of a crab.

Cancer begins when abnormal cells start to divide uncontrollably. Over time, the term “cancer,” which is the name given to a collection of related diseases, became a universal word used to describe the spread of a potentially deadly disease in any part of the body.

But the term has come to mean so much more. For many, “cancer” is associated with other terms: “fear” and “anxiety,” but also “strength” and “perseverance.” The term resonates around the globe.

Each day we are making great strides in understanding cancer and developing new therapies to combat or eliminate the disease. However, time is our enemy. The number of new cancer cases per year worldwide is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030, according to the National Institutes of Health.

I recently co-hosted a meeting of some of the top scientists from around the world. Together, we are developing a technology platform that will allow cancer patients and researchers to share data and participate in clinical trials to accelerate the discovery of new cancer therapies. In May 2017, Australian philanthropists Andrew and Nicola Forrest allocated more than $50 million to launch the Eliminate Cancer Initiative (ECI) as a convener across the global cancer community.

The Eliminate Cancer Initiative is designed to remove barriers and enable synergy across academia, philanthropy, private industry and government to accelerate progress toward fighting a disease that has affected so many.

I am excited to join forces with my friend Andrew Forrest and the leadership of ECI to connect patients and researchers throughout the world to eradicate cancer. Perhaps one day another word will be associated with cancer: “cure.”

William F. McKeon
President and Chief Executive Officer
Texas Medical Center




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