A rallying point for cancer research

AACR’s Annual Meeting 2013 and Rally for Medical Research draw thousands to nation’s capital

Jim Cirigliano
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WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than 18,000 researchers convened inthe nation's capital April 6-10 to participate in the American Association forCancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2013, which featured presentations of thelatest science and most exciting recent discoveries in cancer research.
The theme for this year's meeting was "Personalizing CancerCare Through Discovery Science," celebrating the accelerated pace ofdiscoveries in basic, translational and clinical cancer research due in largepart to the availability of new technologies.
The meeting took place at the Walter E. WashingtonConvention Center in Washington, D.C., with an exhibit show running April 7-10.
Programs included invited talks by a roster of hundreds ofrenowned speakers and more than 6,000 proffered papers from the world's topcancer researchers.
The programming aimed to cover all aspects of cancerresearch. The program for the Annual Meeting 2013 was organized into topic andorgan site tracks to help attendees to navigate such a comprehensive agenda.
Exhibits and poster sessions filled the lower level of theconvention center with constant activity. Exhibitors included a range ofcompanies with products and services related to laboratory and clinicalresearch. Special areas of interest on the exhibit floor included a nonprofitsection and an area for research publishers.
The forum provided a valuable opportunity for members of theworldwide cancer research community to learn, interact, and collaborate withone another. The exhibits and poster sessions in close proximity contributedsignificantly to the educational value of the meeting.
"Our focus is on the industry rather than the academicaudience, but we set up great meetings and collaborations," said Reny Aniline,director of sales and marketing for Asuragen Inc. "Everyone in cancer is here."
"We're pleased with the amount of traffic to our booth,"said R&D Systems' key account manager, Jennifer Souvignier. "In fact, weran out of literature. It's not just people showing up to take papers; we'vehad a lot of good conversations about the science." 
There was more in store for AACR meeting attendees duringthe early part of their week. On April 8, just outside the convention center,several thousand demonstrators rallied to call on the nation's policymakers toprioritize medical research funding. Officially dubbed the Rally for MedicalResearch, organized by the AACR, the rally's specific call to action was tospur Congress to spare the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) from themandatory budget cuts brought about by the sequestration. The NIH lost $1.6billion in federal funding for medical research when sequestration cuts wentinto effect on March 1.
The AACR closed down its annual meeting to join nearly 200partnering organizations on the Carnegie Library grounds at Mt. Vernon Squarein downtown Washington. AACR meeting attendees were encouraged to participate;those who did were joined by cancer patients, physicians and advocates fromaround the country looking to voice their support of sustained investment inthe NIH's medical research. 
Speakers featured at the rally included RockefellerUniversity President Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, AACR CEO Dr. Margaret Foti, U.S.Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and formerCongressman John Porter (R-Ill.), along with several survivors and patientadvocates. ABC News political analyst and National Public Radio (NPR) seniornews analyst Cokie Roberts served as the rally's emcee. 
"Listening to the patient advocates was really touching,"says Tabitha Bauman, a spokesperson for Rockland Immunochemicals. "They had amazingstories, which were probably the highlight of the whole event."
The AACR's Annual Meeting 2014 is scheduled for April 5-9,2014 in San Diego.
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