Professional groups: a key role in boosting prostate cancer research

Sun, 13 Apr 2014

Professional medical groups, particularly those operating in international and regional levels, play a vital role in boosting cancer research with future trends expected to emphasise intra-regional collaborations and international initiatives.

“Strong professional associations can give clarity in messages brought to the stage by coordinating interest and in setting the agenda in relevant issues,” said Marjolein van Griethuysen, director of the European Affairs (Brussels Office), Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Van Griethuysen spoke during the first plenary session of the 29th Annual EAU Congress in Stockholm, regarding the trends, opportunities and areas of improvement in prostate cancer research. She noted that international medical groups face the challenge of pro-actively linking their members to funding opportunities made available by government-led initiatives.

Griethuysen said associations like the EAU has a central role in the process since these groups act as the main link between researchers and the funding organisations and other stakeholders.

“The EAU can add value, collectively, by coordinating these local initiatives and by up-scaling the relevance of prostate cancer research internationally by empowering local efforts into mutual strategies,” explained Van Griethuysen.

In her presentation she mentioned four trends in the European Union (EU) cancer research landscape, namely, research diversity, the role of researchers as active ‘brokers,’ the distribution of funds via intergovernmental collaboration and the work of Horizon 2020, the new research programme of the European Commission (EC) for the next seven years.

Horizon 2020, according to Van Griethuysen, is unlike previous research programmes of the EC since it lay more emphasis or calls on researchers “…to engage in the political domain, individually or through professional associations.”

She also noted that with regards to attracting research funding, “a lot more needs to be done,” while at the same time underscored the aims of Horizon 2020. Among these goals are the importance of researchers registering themselves as science experts in the many panels and committees consulted by the Commission.

She also mentioned the participation of researchers in the European Innovation Partnerships Active and Healthy Aging, which is a dialogue between the Commission and science experts, patient platforms and the industry. Accoring to Van Griethuysen the dialogue supports the Commission in monitoring or “scanning new needs for research.”

“On the national level, researchers have the power to influence national policy and through its cooperation with national cancer societies,” said Van Griethuysen as she pointed out the crucial role expected from national medical groups and associations in linking up the various parties in the research community.

Source: Plenary Session 1. Andrology in healthy ageing; 29th Annual EAU Congress, Stockholm, Sweden