Cannes, France – Matt Anthony from Y&R has had an incredible career; one that earned him a spot on the Cannes stage. But that’s not why he was there today. Instead he introduced Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, with a story of his own.

Anthony said, “most of us will face cancer head on in our lives. We will either be taken by it or take it head on.” He lost his brother to brain cancer and fought stage 4 cancer himself. Today, he raises money for research at MD Anderson, in part through a foundation created in his brother’s name called Head for the Cure. Over 80,000 people have participated in their 5ks, together raising $6 million.

DePinho has his sights set even higher. He’s heading up MD Anderson’s Moon Shot To End Cancer:


DePinho said that we’re at a major inflection point for impacting the human condition. “We are in a position for the first time of bending the arc of major diseases and the first to fall to the axe of science will be cancer.”

He believes the next 5 to 15 years will be historic. And, they have to be. Because we’ve essentially doubled life expectancy worldwide in the last 70 years and the single biggest risk for cancer is aging. Today, the lifetime risk is 1:2 for men; 1:3 for women. It will touch all of us.

The advances we’ve seen in the last year have been the biggest in the last 50. Immunotherapy reawakens immune systems that have been asleep at the wheel. It produces Lazurus results for people with cancer.

The Moon Shot program wants to go farther. And it started with a simple question: Is there knowledge today that if applied would change the treatment for cancer? The answer is, of course, yes. But it’s going to take resources to do it.

MD Anderson is bringing 2000 people and $600+billions of dollars to the fight. Vice President Joe Biden is giving it even more national reach.

A couple of other interesting statistics from the presentation:

  • 28% of cancers are misdiagnosed; 30% of cancers are mis-staged. Where you get treated matters.
  • 1:2 cancers are preventable. With the right education – and, that has to start at a very young age with education about sun exposure, tobacco use and vaccines.
  • There’s a 7 year knowledge gap between a community oncologist and an academic oncologist.
  • MD Anderson launched 165 immunotherapy trials last year. If they had the money, they would have launched 500 more. “Ideas aren’t limited right now. It’s the resources,” DePinho said.


About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.