I am glad to open the summer edition of this newsletter with the worldwide celebrations marking International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD, 15th February), held by countless parents, patients, survivors and professional associations around the world.
This date was an important occasion for all of us to praise the enormous challenges young patients have to face on a daily basis, the huge emotional, psychological and economical efforts of their families, as well as to emphasise the need to find better cures to paediatric cancers. SIOPE is aware of some of the initiatives that took place to mark this important date, and I personally attended some of them at the national level; please do let us know what you did too on this occasion, and we will make sure to that all our members – more than 1,500 SIOPE members from 31 countries in Europe, including Bulgaria, Latvia, Luxembourg and Romania – will know about it.
Better EU regulations on cancer research are at the roots of finding better and more effective cures for childhood cancer. This is why, on this date, SIOPE raised awareness at the European level on the need to balance personal data protection and research progress in paediatric oncology via the 5th ‘International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day’ event at the European Parliament. More than 80 international participants gathered on this occasion to debate the projected consequences of the new EU Data Protection Regulation on our members’ daily work, and in this newsletter we will report on the outcome of this influential meeting.
Our Society is working hard to make sure that the ‘European Cancer Plan for Children and Adolescents’ endorsed last September at the SIOPE-ENCCA Conference will soon become a reality. We are currently coordinating the fine-tuning of this Long-Term Sustainable Strategic Plan, ensuring that all stakeholders will actively commit to its implementation with quantifiable and clear objectives to be targeted. Some of the identified platforms and cross-tumour programmes are already operational.
Right after the ICCD event we flew to Vienna to co-host the Paediatric Oncology Conference ‘Prioritisation in Paediatric Oncology Drug Development’. On the occasion of this event – the 3rd of a series of biennial conferences organised in partnership with ITCC, CDDF and ENCCA – we analysed and discussed the interesting proposals from the ‘Paediatric Oncology Platform’ to make progress in the field of drug development for children and adolescents with cancer by involving all concerned stakeholders.
Our running EU projects – ENCCA, ExPO-r-Net and PanCareSurFup – are progressing steadily and well, and in this newsletter we will tell you more about the several project-related initiatives going on at the moment. A few weeks ago, we have submitted two new applications for the Horizon 2020 Health call, together with other European partner institutions: we do hope that these EU project proposals will be accepted, as they both have the potential to become key initiatives to enhance the quality level in two important fields, respectively, radiotherapy and outcome research on paediatric cancers.
Our strategic partnerships are growing stronger, and we are also investing more time and energy in fields we didn’t explore before. An example is our long-lasting partnership with CCI Europe (the European branch of the international organisation regrouping childhood cancer parents, patients and survivors), which is becoming deeper and more powerful in the panorama of European oncology.
The biennial European Cancer Congress (ECC 2015, 25 – 29 September 2015, Vienna, Austria) is the most important oncology congress in Europe. Here outstanding oncology professionals from all over the world combine their efforts and globally share their successful research, with the aim of improving the treatment and care of all cancer patients. As members of SIOPE you can take advantage of a very reduced registration fee to attend ECC2015, follow the interesting sessions of the Paediatric Track and be part of our meetings during the Congress (see article in this newsletter). This year we also decided to concentrate our efforts on supporting the new generation of paediatric oncologists by making available congress scholarships and a ‘Merit Award’ for the most promising researchers in our field.
As you can see we are working (and travelling) to ensure a shared vision for the future, and our Society is in full activity. What I just mentioned is just a tiny part of it, but if you want to know more about the rest of our initiatives we warmly invite you to attend the Congress in Vienna, THE not-to-be-missed meeting of this year, where we will share ideas with you and get to know you better, dear members.
See you there, and… enjoy your reading!