SAN ANTONIO (September 22, 2014) — The National Cancer Institute has appointed a University of Texas Health Science Center pediatric hematologist-oncologist to its NCI Council of Research Advocates.
On Friday, the White House held a closed briefing on pediatric cancer for childhood cancer advocates. During the keynote address, NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus outlined the NCI commitment to pediatric cancer and announced the appointment of Greg Aune, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Dr. Aune said the two-year appointment gives him an opportunity to help align the interests of myriad childhood cancer advocacy groups with those of the NCI.
“In doing so, I hope to encourage a meaningful dialogue regarding the future funding priorities for pediatric cancer,” Dr. Aune said. “I’d like to direct the obvious passion of these groups towards efforts that resonate with the NCI and move the field of pediatric cancer research forward.”
As a teenager, Dr. Aune battled and beat Hodgkin lymphoma. The experience led him into pediatric oncology, and to an interest in the health problems related to cancer survivorship.
With 13 million adult and pediatric cancer survivors in the United States today and 20 million projected by 2022, both groups face significant and special health issues.
“A third of long-term survivors have a life-threatening medical problem related to the treatment that saved them,” Dr. Aune said.
The NCI Council of Research Advocates (NCRA) is the only federal advisory committee comprised of advocate leaders at NCI. The council focuses on research-related issues, and on enhancing community input, outreach and strong collaborations to improve research outcomes.
“This is a group consisting mostly of community advocates, but they really like the fact that Greg is both a cancer survivor and a cancer researcher,” said Gail Tomlinson, M.D., Ph.D., interim director of the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute at the UT Health Science Center. “And they are undoubtedly as impressed as we are by his passion for what he does.”
Dr. Aune was the first graduate of the pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at the GCCRI and conducts research there, as well as seeing patients as a part of UT Kids, the clinical pediatric practice of the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine. He was recently awarded a $250,000 Hyundai Hope on Wheels research grant toward his work on a mouse model to study how cancer therapies affect the heart later in life.
The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.ctrc.net.