Pancreas Matters letter, Anirban Maitra

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Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Friends:

I am extremely honored to begin serving as the Scientific Advisory Board’s Chair for this prestigious organization. When I received my Career Development Award from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in 2004, I was just beginning my career as a physician/scientist. This funding came at a critical time when I was establishing my laboratory and selecting a research focus. More than just the dollar amount, the Career Development Award served as an invaluable “foot in the door” for me, offering an unprecedented opportunity to mingle with the best and brightest of scientists working in pancreatic cancer. Since then, I have devoted myself to the study and treatment of the disease, and continue to value my relationship and partnership with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

This month also marks the beginning of the funded period for our 2012 research grant recipients. Excitingly, 14 grants were awarded this year, totaling more than $3.4 million. The caliber of research and researchers being funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has been outstanding. We eagerly await the outcome of these scientists’ projects, and are thrilled to welcome them into the family of 76 investigators who have been funded by the organization since the grants program’s inception in 2003.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is proud to partner with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in shepherding the rigorous grant review process. Thus, when your contributions reach the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, you can be assured that the funds will be allocated with only one criterion in mind – that the very best science gets funded. Most importantly, these awards have allowed an entire new generation of young and creative investigators to dedicate their research efforts towards eradicating pancreatic cancer. In 2004, you could count the scientists who spent 100% of their efforts on pancreatic cancer research on your fingers; now they fill a giant ballroom!

As testament to the exciting momentum currently in the field, the AACR just hosted its first Pancreatic Cancer Special Conference last month. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network proudly served as the lead supporter of this meeting. Amazingly, more than 450 scientists were in attendance! It was an incredible opportunity to convene experts in the field with junior investigators, representing the past, present, and future of the fight against pancreatic cancer.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has played a pivotal role in growing, strengthening, and fostering the collaborative nature of the pancreatic cancer research community. I am humbled to be a part of this visionary effort and ask you all – as patients, caregivers and family members – to join us in this endeavor in any capacity that is possible. Together, we are poised to make real progress in the laboratory and clinic necessary to move towards our goal of doubling the survival rate of the disease by 2020.

With gratitude, admiration, and hope,

Anirban Maitra
Scientific Advisory Board Chair
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network