The FasterCures Track: March 2013 - Events stress importance of federal investments in science

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As I write this letter, the federal government is preparing for the effects of massive funding cuts due to sequestration that will occur unless Congress reaches a last-minute deal. Recent years have seen great strides in medical research that will be stymied by these sudden cuts. In a time when there is not enough money to fund the best promising science, scientists around the country are waiting to find out if their well-deserved grants will be affected by the sequester.

sequestrationTwo events that FasterCures hosted in February, a Capitol Hill briefing and a Webinar, stressed the importance of federal investments in science. The turnout and engagement during these events show that people across the country are eager to learn more about these policy issues and are concerned about the future of medical research progress.

Warm regards, 

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Margaret Anderson 
Executive Director
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FasterCures Program Updates

Policy & Process

Our goal: Improve research processes and develop policies that will better support efficient development and approval of new therapies.

Two recent FasterCures> events helped us to educate policy makers and the public about the vital role of medical research and the importance of making research investment a priority.

photo1 2FasterCures reinforces critical role federal agencies play in advancing therapies from lab to patient
"While I can tell you there's never been a more exciting time for science, I can also tell you there's never been a more stressful time," said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, addressing the issue at hand - tightening fiscal resources that threaten the research and development ecosystem to fully deliver science's full potential to improve health and well-being. This was the main topic of a Capitol Hill briefing co-hosted by FasterCures and Friends of Cancer Research. Moderated by FasterCures Executive Director Margaret Anderson, medical research leaders representing distinct sectors provided a glimpse into what it takes to turn a scientific discovery into a safe and effective therapy that will improve, and maybe even save, patients' lives. More than 300 policy decision makers, advocates, and key legislative staffers participated.

Webinar aims to navigate perfect storm in medical research
A dynamic panel of experts painted a vivid picture of the tsunami of budget and fiscal issues that threaten federal science programs during a FasterCures Webinar on "The 113th Congress and Medical Research: A Perfect Storm Approaching?" moderated by FasterCures Executive Director Margaret Anderson. While the prospects for avoiding widespread cuts seem bleak, the speakers remained optimistic that a loud, unified, focused argument from the medical research community could have an impact right now. Panelists included Ceci Connolly of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute, Sudip S. Parikh of Battelle's Center for Analytics & Public Health, and Carrie D. Wolinetz of the Association of American Universities.


Collaboration

Our goal: Stimulate innovative collaborations across all sectors – academia, government, industry, investors, and nonprofits – to speed up the time it takes to get new therapies from the lab to patients.

 

pubsFasterCures Finds Outcomes, Metrics, and Strategic Leadership Define the Effectiveness of Venture Philanthropy Groups
Two new reports outline the practices and approaches of nonprofit funders of medical research

FasterCures released two reports that paint a vivid picture of how medical research foundations, also known as venture philanthropy groups, have transformed the medical research enterprise. These entrepreneurial groups are accelerating medical research and development by tackling science where it needs the most effort and resources, and applying innovative business approaches in the pursuit for a cure.

The first, Honest Brokers for Cures: How Venture Philanthropy Groups are Changing Biomedical Research, features insights from leaders of 20 venture philanthropy groups. This publication features valuable insights and perspectives from leaders of medical research foundations that are transforming the cure enterprise by virtue of how they find and fund research. In this report, FasterCures dissects the business model that has emerged from the shared sense of urgency and frustration stemming from these patient-driven organizations, and their laser-sharp focus on outcomes.

The second, Measuring and Improving Impact: A Toolkit for Nonprofit Funders of Medical Research, is a how-to guide for foundations seeking to apply some of the best practices and lessons learned from venture philanthropy groups who have demonstrated their effectiveness. It provides a common framework for assessing and improving organizational effectiveness, and a panoply of ideas, questions, and models to help guide new and emerging nonprofits with strategic and tactical choices.


Patients

Our goal: Increase patient engagement in research.


videoStories illustrate that saving time in medical research means saving lives
The FasterCures social media campaign TIME=LIVES has released a short video featuring personal stories of medical research's critical value. In addition, the campaign has launched a "story of the week" to examine more closely stories of the power and promise of medical research.







panel
Family's medical fight demonstrates need for collaboration
To bring attention to one family's fight to bring medical innovation home, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation commissioned a documentary, Here. Us. Now. At the Washington screening of the film, Margaret Anderson, executive director of FasterCures, moderated a panel that discussed the need for rare disease groups to collaborate, such as the importance of creating shared resources for biobanking. "The system works only when people like you stand up and demand it," Chris Austin, director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, told the audience.

 


 Capital 

Our goal: Facilitate greater access to and more strategic allocation of capital to support results-driven medical research.


Philanthropy Advisory Service identifies opportunities to accelerate therapeutic development

The Colorectal Cancer Advisory Board is in the process of finalizing its scope and membership for 2013. The Philanthropy Advisory Service (PAS) team is also working on additional initiatives to leverage the work of the Scientific Advisory Board to help inform the giving of other philanthropic donors focused on metastatic colorectal cancer research. In addition, PAS is overseeing the allocation of a multi-million dollar grant to Cedars-Sinai to develop a personalized cancer stem cell targeting vaccine for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). PAS is currently helping facilitate discussion between the Cedars-Sinai funded investigator and Merck to initiate a clinical trial evaluating combinatorial treatment with the cancer stem cell vaccine and Merck's investigational agent, MK-3475, an anti-PD1 human monoclonal antibody.

FIF GenomeCanadaSeries highlights novel R&D funding models
FasterCures continues to spotlight novel approaches to financing drug development with our monthly case study series - Fixes in Financing: Novel R&D Funding Models. The series has now highlighted seven novel financing mechanisms, from active to concept stage, and from financial to societal focus.