Today in The Onco’Zine Brief Peter Hofland and Sonia Portillo talk with Dr. Michael Caligiuri., MD

The Interview was recorded during the 2018 annual meeting of American Association​ for Cancer Research (AACR) held April 14-18th, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

Michael A. Caligiuri is a renowned physician-scientist known for his work in immunology that is focused on human natural killer cells and their modulation for the treatment of leukemia, myeloma, and glioblastoma. To date over 1,500 cancer patients have been treated on clinical protocols that have originated from the Dr. Caligiuri laboratory.

Dr. Caligiuri is the president and physician-in-chief of City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is one of only 49 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. The center’s main campus is located just northeast of Los Angeles, with additional locations across Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties, and focuses on the treatment of patients with cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.

Before joining City-of-Hope, Dr. Caligiuri was the director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio He was also the 2017 president of the American Association​ for Cancer Research – AACR – which is the world’s oldest and largest professional association related to cancer research.

Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the AACR focuses on all aspects of cancer research, including basic, clinical, and translational research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Last year, following his appointment as the AACR president, Peter Hofland and Sonia Portillo sat down with Dr. Caligiuri to ask him about his passion, his hopes, his drive and what he wanted to accomplish during his tenure as president of the American Association​ for Cancer Research during 2017 and the beginning of 2018.

This year, at the end of his tenure as president of the AACR, we again had the opportunity to sit down with him … This time Hofland and Portillo asked him about his experience, and how he was able to help solve some of the key challenges he had noted before. Dr. Caligiuri has been actively involved with the AACR since 1990, serving as a member, and more recently, chairperson of the Publications Committee and a member of the Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Committee, among other things.

One of Dr. Caligiuri main concerns – indicated in our interview in 2017 – is the problem of Cancer health disparities that represent a major public health problem in our country.

By promoting the exchange of novel ideas and information between the AACR and a wide range of professionals from academia, industry, government, and the community, Dr. Caligiuri hoped to drive a movement to help eliminate the disparities and harness the potential and maximize the many opportunities for bringing research on health disparities from bench to bedside or community, and back again.

As part of that effort, he wanted, during his tenure as president of the AACR, bring together scientists and other professionals working in a variety of disciplines to discuss the latest findings in the field and to stimulate the development of new research in cancer health disparities.

And it must be said… One of the challenges society faces today is how to ensure that everyone benefits equally from the groundbreaking advances in cancer treatment and prevention.

Cancer health disparities are indeed a huge problem.

For example, African-Americans have the shortest survival for most cancers compared with those in other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Hence, there is a large unmet need to do more to understand the reasons for disparities as well as ways to address them.

The issue of disparities is a complex, multifactorial problem that involves genetic, behavioral, and socio-economic factors, among others, and it will require a multifaceted, evidence-based approach to solving the problem.

In our interview, Dr. Caligiuri is addressing some of the problems as well as what he and the AACR hopes to accomplish in the upcoming years.