Letter from the Co-Founder
The Promise of Research
Our understanding of the basic cause of cancer is as recent and revolutionary as the personal computer and the internet. A generation ago we viewed cancer as a chaotic cell, propelled on a destructive journey to grow and spread. Now we have found that just as infections originate from germs and matter consists of atoms, tumors are caused by a handful of small, specific changes in the genetic blueprint of individual cells. We have gained knowledge of the whole lettering of the human genome and our ability to “read” cancer messages grows every day.
In the years ahead, two fundamental processes will come into clear focus, lead to accurate diagnostic and prognostic tests, and guide specific, effective, and safer therapies. Cancer arises when the normal signals for growth have gone into overdrive, and simultaneously the usual processes to stop cells from dividing or to weed out defective ones are broken. The molecular probes that track these processes are becoming rapidly automated and applicable to specific cancers and specific therapies. A principal goal of the San Diego Cancer Research Institute is to tailor and optimize treatment for each individual person.
We will accomplish this through the coordination, development, and adoption of emerging methods and technologies and have sought direct collaboration with basic research scientists, biotechnology companies and developers of new drugs, to connect each patient with the right medicine, often within carefully design clinical trial programs. It is our goal to optimize these processes in order to speed the implementation of the newest breakthroughs in the least time.
Cancer may be a formidable foe, but we are mounting an arsenal of sharply pointed, precisely aimed arrows. Our targets have never been clearer, our aim never more precise.
Mark J. Adler, M.D.-Board Member
Letter from the Co-founder
The Science of Healing
Over many years of caring for people who face the challenges of cancer, I am left with a sense of awe for the strength of the human spirit.
Poets, philosophers, and priests allude to it. Physicians depend upon it. The power of the human spirit, nevertheless, remains elusive. Indomitable it may be, but like fire for the ancients, its qualities can not be quantified. The ways one human or group transforms another -“lifts the spirits”, “renews the spirit”, “crushes the spirit”- these too are powerful, and as yet immeasurable.
As doctors, we learn to use things we can see and touch -pills, scalpels, stethoscopes. We know that healing requires much more. A goal of the San Diego Cancer Research Institute is to distill the essential intangible elements of the healing relationship and the healing environment.
How does one create an optimally healing environment? How does the healing environment go beyond making the patient feel good in making them well, beyond the inspiration of the spirit to physical victories for the body?
The process of “group mind” acting within the “healing environment” doubtlessly leads to patient equanimity and hope. We watch as it lifts our patients. It works and we wonder why. Our goal is to know why, to measure, to optimize the model, and to spread the message.
Daniel Vicario, M.D.-Board Member