Seventh letter to our Community - 31 May 2011
May has been a busy month for ECCO, the European CanCer Organisation. Involved in a number of important initiatives, I am particularly pleased that ECCO was able to contribute to the future of EU funding for cancer research through its response, published on 20 May, to the European Commission Green Paper From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding. I am also taking this opportunity to update you on ECCO’s efforts in a number of other EU projects.
ECCO’s Response to the Green Paper
The renewal of Europe's research and innovation framework is an unmissable opportunity to increase investment in cancer research and make cooperation more effective. Specific recommendations made include the earmarking of a greater proportion of national budgets to EU level or allocation for supranational co-operation, and the expansion of networks to include the majority if not all leading cancer researchers in Europe. Such expansion could be modelled, for example, on the EurocanPlatform, a Network of Excellence supported by the present EU R&D programme. Member States’ in kind contributions could be matched by cash contributions from the EU and as such, the network would be sustainable in the long-run. Other recommendations include a new mechanism to support top researchers through ‘Dream Teams’ linking basic and clinical scientists to work on well-defined, high-priority research projects with clear potential impact on the health of EU citizens, and support for all areas of research on the prevention of cancer.
As President of ECCO, I believe our response echoes the needs of the cancer community and reaffirms the necessity for funding instruments to address the entire field of research. It also supports multidisciplinary and multi-professional teams. I cannot stress enough the importance of voicing the needs of the oncology community towards achieving goals such as offering the best treatment and care to each and every patient Europe wide. You can read ECCO’s full response here.
ECCO is also participating in the first of three Open Forums organised over the lifecycle of the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC).
ECCO is leading Work Package 8, which aims to develop a concerted approach to achieving coordination of one third of research from all funding sources by 2013 within selected cancer research areas. The upcoming Open Forum on 14 and 15 June in Madrid, will showcase the ideas behind Work Package 8 to an audience of cancer representatives and project partners, and is also an important opportunity for ECCO to gain input and support from the wider cancer community for its activities within the Partnership.
Funded by a €1.2 million grant from the European Commission’s FP7 Programme, the Eurocancercoms partners have been working to establish an integrated model for a Europe-wide comprehensive cancer information and policy exchange portal. The consortium is now very close to creating a state-of-the-art communications system to connect and involve all those with an interest in cancer, from researchers and doctors through to patients and advocates.
Key deliverables contributing significant data to the overall project’s development have been published:
The State of Research into Children with Cancer across Europe - New Policies for a New Decade
 has been published by the European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE) and the Centre for Global OncoPolicy. Presented at the European Parliament on 15 March, the report somewhat poignantly marked International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. The authors* set out to look at the current state of paediatric oncology research in Europe and their findings are significant for future effective testing and dissemination of new therapies and techniques. Read the full report on ecancermedicalscience
The Internet and science communication: blurring the boundaries  was published by the EACR** in November 2010 and discusses how the Internet has changed communication by cancer researchers, and how it has the potential to change it still more in the future. The paper details two broad types of communication: formal and informal, and how these are changing with the use of new web tools and technologies. The full report is available here.
Efforts led by ECCO focused on producing an inventory of guidelines on cancer prevention, treatment, supportive and palliative care, as well as the methodologies used to produce these guidelines. To gather data, a survey based on the ‘Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation’ (AGREE) checklist was distributed to a total of 30 European organisations in oncology. Recommendations regarding methods of guideline development, based on literature and the survey outcome are also being provided. Such guidelines are practice tools used to steer clinical treatment and care. Many oncology organisations are involved in their development, covering the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach towards cancer patient treatment and care. The survey results revealed a number of serious pitfalls in the way European societies are developing guidelines, which will be discussed by Dirk Schrijvers, ECCO’s Education Chair during the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress at Stockholm. Eurocancercoms Project: Multidisciplinary Guidelines where are we? will take place on Sunday 25 September at 16.10, as part of the Joint ECCO And ASCO Scientific Symposium On Improving The Quality Of Delivered Cancer Care By Tools And Guidelines.
* K Pritchard-Jones, G Lewison, S Camporesi, G Vassal, R Ladenstein, Y Benoit, JS Predojevic, J Sterber, J Stary, T Eckschlager, H Schroeder, F Doz, U Creutzig, T Klingebiel, HV Kosmidis, M Garami, R Pieters, A O'Meara, G Dini, et al
** Rachel Warden, European Association for Cancer Research, EACR Secretariat, School of Pharmacy (PSB), University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
1: Volume: 5 Article Number: 210 DOI: 10.3332/ecancer.2011.210. Received 24/01/2011; Published 09/02/2011.
2: Volume: 4 Article Number: 203 DOI: 10.3332/ecancer.2010.203 Received 18/11/2010; Published 14/122010.
Launch of Oncovideos
The Developing Vocational Skills in Oncology through e-Learning (Oncovideos) project has been launched by ECCO this month. First mentioned in September last year, the outcome of this EU-funded project is the provision of an innovative multidisciplinary educational platform for oncologists in Europe requiring practice-oriented training in the form of an online library featuring 24 educational videos.
Oncovideos demonstrates just what can be achieved through multidisciplinary collaboration. Each video features a leading expert from one of 18 different cancer teaching partner institutions, demonstrating the standard procedures related to a specific oncology discipline. The topics featured include surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, paediatric oncology and neuro-oncology, and both the topics and the experts were selected by: EANO, ESMO, ESSO, ESTRO and SIOPE, representing each specific oncology discipline, while ECCO played a key role through project coordination. I would like to congratulate all involved particularly Dirk Schrijvers who is leading this project in his capacity as ECCO Education Chair. I am fully convinced that the resulting online library will assist our profession in the delivery of continuing medical education to health professionals wanting to develop and acquire practical vocational skills in oncology.
This project marks a positive shift in the educational paradigm, enabling users to watch, listen, read, download and provide feedback through use of the latest technologies. The resulting high-quality multidisciplinary material is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Oncology in Europe, allowing users to collect CME credit points. Launching on the second week in June with four videos, the website will be updated on a regular basis so that all 24 videos are made freely available.
I urge you to spread the word about this benchmarked material, accessible through the Education e-Learning section of ECCO’s website. The videos will be freely available to all health professionals upon completion of a simple registration process.
Michael Baumann, ECCO President
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