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Dear colleagues and friends,

It is ESMO’s duty to our members to ensure that cancer research carries on, that the right systems are in place, that there is cooperation between research groups, and that patients are properly screened and have the opportunity to enlist into the most suitable clinical trials. Achieving this is a great challenge, but if we can make progress here, we really have a chance at improving translational and clinical research in Europe.

In my first Letter to you I outlined my vision for the next 2 years, specifically ESMO’s role in research. This time I’d like to take things a step further and let you know about how ESMO is already collaborating with various stakeholders to promote research related initiatives in order to keep Europe at the forefront of cancer research.

As always, our focus is where ESMO can add value and what is best for our members. 

A viable research community

ESMO recently completed a survey to understand if you were interested in research and funding through Horizon 2020.

If we want to have a viable research community in Europe we need to improve the structure, information and coordination of research 360 degrees. I have consulted with the Executive Board and we agree that ESMO has a role to play in:

  • Training in good practice and clinical trials methodology
  • Informing researchers about the availability of funds
  • Supporting members on how to successfully apply for grants
  • Informing about policy and regulatory issues

We want to help you with where to look for grant alerts, what options are available, and how to write a convincing application. All of these support systems will be available on in the coming months. 


Improving clinical trials in Europe

ESMO and the EORTC are increasingly working together on areas of mutual interest: education, policy and regulatory projects. Aiming to improve the situation for clinical trials in Europe, I am pleased to inform you that we have decided to launch the first ESMO EORTC Clinical Cancer Research Forum on 27 October 2014 in Brussels. The key objectives of the Forum are to review the:

  • New regulations and their impact on national and international trials
  • Requirements of performing cross border clinical trials and developing ways to manage practical issues
  • Role of academic organisations in driving research in Europe

The ultimate goal of the discussion is – together with national and European collaborative research organisations - to identify topics of joint action which will help us safeguard the future of independent, academic clinical cancer research within Europe. We will present the outcome of this Forum to you towards the end of the year.


Policy that protects research

For political initiatives which impact oncology specialists and cancer patients, ESMO’s approach to advocacy is proactive and hands-on. A major achievement for researchers across Europe was the recent adoption of the EU Clinical Trials Regulation which became law in June after intensive advocacy by EORTC and ESMO. The Regulation provides a harmonised framework for conducting clinical trials. Special thanks go to ESMO’s Public Policy Committee and all those involved in lobbying important initiatives on our behalf.  


Policy that protects patients

We have to keep in mind that at the end of the day everything we do should be for the benefit of patients. To provide better treatment and care for patients afflicted with cancer we need to do more than promote clinical and translational research; we also have to ensure the advances in scientific knowledge reach patients at large. In view of this goal, ESMO has collaborated successfully with WHO over the past 2 years on several projects which have a direct effect on healthcare providers and patients worldwide.

Global Opioid Survey
This ESMO-led international survey supports the strengthening of national healthcare systems and the reduction of inequalities by promoting the inclusion of palliative care interventions in national cancer plans and by increasing access to essential medicines.

Anti-neoplastics Medicines Survey
Another promising ESMO-led survey launched in April 2014 aims to provide European health authorities with data on availability of licensed cancer drugs in each European country. The first results of this survey will be communicated at our ESMO 2014 Congress. 


Reason to celebrate

My last point moves away from the themes of research and care, but is about something we can all appreciate—the solid foundation of our Society. ESMO has officially entered its 40th year since it was officially established in July 1975. Our first 40 years have been extremely rich in growth, accomplishments and recognition and looking at our society as it presents itself today and how it is poised to face the challenges of the future, should make us all feel proud to be members of ESMO. We will start celebrating this milestone anniversary now, and continue celebrations through all of 2015, spreading our enthusiasm and involving as many community members as possible. 

What is most important, though, is not to focus on our past, but rather on what we will do to ensure that our future looks even better. We are still committed to the same fervent mission we’ve had since 1975 - improving cancer care for our patients, and this must be a constant, relentless effort for the whole community.

I invite you to look out for the many activities we will have onsite in Madrid and find out how you too can take an active part in the celebrations of our history and contribute to building an even brighter future for our Society.

I look forward to pushing progress forward—together.


Rolf A. Stahel
ESMO President 2014-2015