As the air buzzes with excitement in anticipation of our Society’s 50th Annual Congress, I am happy to further infuse the atmosphere with my share of amazing news. Please bear with me as I relay, in the next few paragraphs, not only the news itself, but also, the incredible people were able to make these things happen.
First is the successful outcome that was granted to our WHO application. The announcement was made on 31 January 2018, by the 142nd Session of the Executive Board of the WHO. Both SIOP and CCI have been formally accepted for official relations status with the WHO. This has been a long journey, led by Dr. Gabriele Calaminus with the tremendous support of Dr. Giorgio Perilongo, our Past President. We are thrilled to have reached this happy ending after so many ups and downs, and two consecutive submissions in 2016 and 2017. This status means that we will have now a voice at WHO meetings, and that we will be able to work more actively on WHO committees and projects that concern childhood cancer. This clearly gives a whole new dimension to our SIOP activities, and we must now jointly brainstorm around how we will make the best of this new responsibility. In particular, we must seize any opportunity to meet with institutions, associations and other agencies involved in childhood cancer activities, and clarify the respective roles of everyone.
On this note, I wanted to share a few thoughts related to a conference I recently attended, on the pathology of paediatric brain tumours. The topic of the conference was more precisely the new 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System. As speakers highlighted the critical need for molecular biology studies, sequencing, methylation, RNA seq, CHIP seq, Proteomics, and more, I couldn’t help but notice the extent to which this WHO classification seemed exclusively accessible to G20 or G8 physicians. Even within high income countries, one speaker eventually noted, the price tag of molecular studies refrains more than one institution. And so, how can one expect a pathologist, working in a low income country, to deal with this new WHO classification? This remains an enigma to me, and I would love to hear your takes on potential solutions to this problem. In the meantime, allow me to return to my second piece of exciting news.
It is our pleasure to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Sanofi Espoir Foundation and SIOP. This MoU formalises our collaboration with the objective to increase the level of care for children affected by cancer in low and middle income countries. It also forms the basis for a strategic, long-term partnership between the two organizations as we roll out joint projects related to the My Child Matters program. A number of initiatives have been discussed and will be implemented through this memorandum. Critical to this project has been the role played by Dr. Anne Gagnepain-Lacheteau from the Sanofi Espoir Foundation, and we are extremely grateful for everything that she has done.
Finally, I wanted to share with you recent announcements from ASCO, the American Society of Pediatric Oncology. As you may know, at each annual Meeting in June, ASCO honours leaders in oncology who have committed their lives to others. This year, 2 SIOP members have been recognised for their memorable contributions: Dr. Rejin Kebudi will receive the International Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award. This Award pays tribute to extraordinary female leaders in oncology who have both excelled as mentors and demonstrated their outstanding dedication to the professional development of female colleagues as clinicians, educators, and researchers in oncology. Dr. Kebudi is the Director of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Division at Istanbul University, and is known for her mentorship and involvement in numerous scientific activities in the Middle East Cancer Consortium. The second awardee is Dr. Gregory Reeman, who will receive the Pediatric Oncology Award. This award commends the career and achievements of an individual who has contributed scientific work of major importance to the field of pediatric oncology. Everybody knows that Dr. Reaman is not only our treasurer, but was also the first Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group after the merging of the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) and the Children’s Oncology Group (CCG). With this award, he is particularly acknowledged for his work in the biology and treatment of childhood acute leukemia, and new drug development for paediatric cancers. I invite all of you to join me in congratulating our ASCO awardees, and the pride they bring to the SIOP family.
In short, we all have a lot to celebrate, and I look forward to marking these achievements with you all as we meet in Kyoto, in a few months. Speaking of, have you submitted your abstract(s) for the meeting? The deadline is April 10!
With my best wishes,