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Dear colleagues and friends,

I've have been an ESMO member for the past 26 years; and as the years have passed, I have continued to strengthen my ties to the society by becoming more and more actively involved. At this point I have to say this involvement has definitely paid off.  Having held many different positions at ESMO, I know very well what ESMO represents for members, for our profession and for our partners.  I've come full circle with ESMO and now as your President I look forward to working with the Executive Board, all ESMO's Committees and Task Forces, and especially with you, the members, to make sure that ESMO remains a valuable organisation for you and your practice.

The purpose of the President's Letter is to let you know what you can expect from me over the next two years. I'll continue the excellent work done by my predecessor, Dr Martine Piccart, by providing even more innovative and valuable membership benefits and strengthening relationships with strategic partners. On top of that, my personal priority for my presidency is for ESMO to become a dynamic force of forward movement in improving research done in Europe.

For the remainder of this letter I'd like to present my vision for ESMO's role in research, and some concrete actions on how ESMO will move forward.

European Research Community

There are many challenges to standardising oncology education and practice in Europe, but if we are to improve research coming from the EU we must develop new ways to work together on a local, national and international level. The Clinical Practice Guidelines were developed to address the fact that there is much diversity in education, standards  and practice in Europe, and that all oncologists were looking for general 'recommendations' for common cases.  We should use this diversity to our advantage, share best practice and bring new knowledge to the profession. The core of this new knowledge is research; and research projects are a good way for the national research organisations in Europe to work together on cross-border research projects.

National Research Groups

As the professional association representing oncology researchers, ESMO should act as facilitator between researchers and national research groups. It is our duty to protect independent, academic research, which is in danger due to the high cost of conducting trials.

How we define diseases nowadays is very different and more complicated than when I first began practicing oncology. Many of us are still working on a local level but if we want to move forward this must change. My goal is to find ways that national research groups can work together and create a better environment for clinical and translational research in the EU. This collaboration will lead to better results and instil a spirit of mutual collaboration and benefit which will then drive further research.

How can we do this? The best way is to develop a European research community, but before doing this we need to have an understanding of the common challenges, find mutually beneficial solutions, improve local standards, share best practice and finally, work together to influence policy.

 

National Cancer Centres

In parallel to working with national research groups, ESMO will establish relationships with the top comprehensive cancer centres in the EU, where the large proportion of research is being conducted. While doing so, we will evaluate how good-quality research is actually done at these centres, what the ideal scenario to conduct clinical trials is, and what clinical trials protocols can be shared with other centres who wish to do more research but don't know what is needed or how to best set up their research department.

How will we do all of this?
 
I would like to create a think tank at ESMO that will be dedicated to following through on these ideas. I have appointed two new members of the Executive Board who will act as liaisons between cancer centres and research groups, looking for areas of collaboration. These are not actions I will plan or can accomplish on my own. I will work closely with the Board, through the new Research Task Force and the National Representatives who already have good relations with the important cancer centres and research groups in their countries.

The Right Platforms

What will happen to this gold mine of research coming from the EU? ESMO calls on European researchers to stay in Europe, and present and publish your research in Europe. Having been the Educational Chair of ESMO 2012 and now as President of ESMO 2014 this year in Madrid, I can tell you that ESMO is the right choice and the right platform for your original studies. ESMO has a tradition of excellence in providing state-of-art educational programmes and is the ideal platform to present your practice-changing studies and your newly gained insights into cancer biology and care to the entire oncology community. I urge you to choose ESMO - submit your research to our congress and your papers to ESMO's scientific journal Annals of Oncology. Let's make sure that European research is an advantage for Europe.

Our motivation to improve research is to find more benefit for patients. My goal is that in two year's time ESMO is still an organisation open to change, meeting challenges head on, and continuing to provide the best solutions for the oncology community.


Sincerely,

Rolf A. Stahel
ESMO President 2014-2015