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Mardis visits White House to discuss​​ cancer research​

Co-director of The McDonnell Genome Institute joins other top researchers to discuss challenge to cure cancer

January 14, 2016

Elaine Mardis, PhD, co-director of The McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, joined a group of 14 other distinguished cancer researchers and physician-scientists Jan. 8 at the White House to talk with Vice President Joseph Biden’s staff about his “moonshot” challenge to cure cancer.

The researchers, convened by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), highlighted precision medicine, immunotherapy and other advances against the disease.

“I was really honored to be part of the group of cancer researchers and clinicians invited to discuss these critically important ideas with the vice president’s staff,” said Mardis, who is the Robert E. and Louise F. Dunn Distinguished Professor of Medicine. She also is a member of the AACR Board of Directors and a research member of Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Biden, who lost a son to cancer last year, has called for a “national commitment” to end the disease. “And I’m going to spend the next 15 months in this office pushing as hard as I can to accomplish this,” he said in October.

In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Jan. 12, Obama said Biden would lead a historic push to find a cure for cancer. He said Biden would be in charge of “mission control” for the effort.

Biden’s staff and the scientists who met with them Jan. 8 discussed AACR initiatives including Project GENIE (Genomics, Evidence, Neoplasia, Information, Exchange), which aims to aid clinical decision-making by linking the genetic profiles of tumors with clinical outcomes.

The visit came after a separate meeting with Food and Drug Administration staff members about next-generation genome sequencing, laboratory-developed tests and diagnostics.

“It’s a very exciting time with the advances being made against cancer,” Mardis said. “By working with our government officials, this progress will continue in a manner that is conducted in the best interests of cancer patients.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.
Siteman Cancer Center, ranked among the top cancer treatment centers by U.S. News & World Report, also is one of only a few cancer centers in the U.S. to receive the highest rating of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Comprising the cancer research, prevention and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Siteman is Missouri’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and the state’s only member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.