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A critical juncture: optimism and urgency in the fight to end cancer

Dr. Douglas Yee

The fight to end cancer is at a critical juncture. Today, we stand at the intersection of “big data” and advanced cancer science. This gives us the ability to mine and translate critical information to respond in real time when making decisions about cancer prevention and treatment. Advanced technologies can profile individual tumors and genes in ways that were not possible a decade ago.

This spring marks the 10th anniversary of the largest gift ever pledged to the University of Minnesota: $65 million from Minnesota Masonic Charities to the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. Thanks in part to the generous support of Minnesota Masonic Charities and other key partners through the years we have made substantial progress against cancer.

Precision medicine

But when your end goal is as ambitious as ending cancer, optimism comes with a sense of urgency — urgency to realize our goal through precision medicine: targeting cancer preventions and treatments based on an individual’s cellular makeup. Instead of searching for a blanket cure for a constantly mutating disease, we seek to end cancer at the individual level, precisely and with a laser focus.

In response to the promise and opportunity before us in pursuit of our shared goal of ending cancer, Minnesota Masonic Charities is making an accelerated $25 million payment of its  2008 pledge. The infusion of $25 million from Minnesota Masonic Charities will help Masonic Cancer Center members pursue research into an individual’s risk of cancer, develop precision therapies for cancer treatment, create new tools to study cancer, and recruit the best minds in science to get the job done.

A step closer

Our ability to improve the lives of Minnesotans and, indeed, those around the world, relies on the commitment of partners like Minnesota Masonic Charities, who believe, as we do, that ending this insidious disease is within our sights.

Today, we are one giant step closer.

Douglas Yee, M.D., is the director of the Masonic Cancer Center, holder of the John H. Kersey Chair in Cancer Research, and professor of medicine and pharmacology at the University of Minnesota.

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