MD Anderson Cancer Center Plans 'Moon Shot' for Cures

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Many experts said the initiative would be a change for medical research, which is infamously regarded as slow-going and far removed from clinical practice.

"The process of bringing this amount of horsepower together in such a focused manner is not normally seen in academic medicine and is valuable in and of itself," Frank McCormick, director of the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Center and president of the American Association for Cancer Research said in a public statement. McCormick led the review panel that led to the program.

Long-term cancer survival rates have risen dramatically over the last decade. By the end of 2012, 11.3 million Americans are expected to be identified as cancer survivors, according to the American Cancer Society.

The moon shot program is intended to offer treatments that will help patients, "minimize side effects that will span way beyond the patient's life after treatment is over," said DePinho.

"This is our moment and the time to act is now," said DePinho. "We're going to go through a major mind set change to ensure discoveries reach patients in a systematic way."

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