The two-day event in mid-December was the first of its kind hosted by MD Anderson's Global Academic Programs. The summit was organized to launch the Sister Institution Network Fund (SINF) and the Collexis Research Profiles tool, both intended to accelerate and enable collaborative research between faculty at MD Anderson and the SIs.
Together, the two resources are the newest programs from the Center for Global Oncology and underline the dedication of MD Anderson to energize our network of collaborating institutions to reach beyond meetings, symposiums and conferences, which have been the historic bedrock of SI relationships.
SIs with lengthy affiliations attended the summit, as well as representatives from GAP's newest sister institutions -- Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplasicas (INEN) of Lima, Peru, and King Hussein Cancer Center of Amman, Jordan -- and possible future sister institution, Barretos Cancer Hospital of Barretos, Brazil.
To Mahmoud Sarhan, M.D., CEO and general director of the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC), the summit was an important opportunity to meet with members of MD Anderson and the sister institutions while gaining a better understanding of the changing emphasis of GAP toward one of active research collaboration.
"We (KHCC) have a wonderful cancer treatment program, but there are two areas we hope to improve by working with MD Anderson: our integrative medicine and personalized cancer care." Sarhan adds, "We will definitely be applying to the Sister Institution Network Fund and already have the matching funds to begin research."
Carlos Vallejos, M.D., director of Peru's INEN, also expressed his enthusiasm for participating in the SI network and promised to bring his center's strength in clinical trials to the group. Vallejos went on to convey his desire to collaborate on research involving understudied U.S. cancers that are also important public health problems in Peru.
Many at the summit echoed similar objectives, although most recognized the infancy of the program and the inevitable unforeseen kinks to work through over the next year as the SINF assesses and supports its first research programs.
"We are planning on funding at least 10 research projects in the first year," explains Oliver Bogler, Ph.D., vice president for Global Academic Programs. "But if we receive additional high quality applications, we will try to fund more."
Perhaps the most productive portion of the summit occurred in the closing hour when John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of MD Anderson, and Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., provost and executive vice president, joined Bogler and the summit participants for wrap-up discussions focused on the big picture.