Manipal, June, 2021.
The Indo-American Cancer Consortium (IACC) is the first collaborative initiative involving multiple tertiary cancer centers from India and the United States. The consortium is expected to generate infrastructure and strengthen global cancer research leadership and mentorship. Participating institutes include- Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre and Research Institute and Tata Memorial Centre in India, and the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center plus University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center in the U.S.
Lt. Gen. (Dr.) M. D. Venkatesh, Vice-Chancellor of MAHE says “the initiative will create a global transdisciplinary team of basic cancer researchers, oncologists, epidemiologists, and surveillance experts. The consortium will build infrastructure, expand capacity, and strengthen global cancer research leadership and healthcare”.
Dr. Mahadev Rao, Professor, and Head of Department of Pharmacy Practice and Coordinator of Center for Translational Research who is coordinating IACC says “The goal of this consortium is to foster significant cooperation between cancer center faculties. Over 30 faculty members with active research programs in basic science, clinical and translational research and public health sciences relevant to cancer are included”. The consortium offers online courses in basic cancer biology, translational oncology, and epidemiology. The consortium has also been hosting events like faculty and student research presentations. Students at partnered cancer centers in India are unable to attend their usual lectures due to the current outbreak. These consortium activities offer them a way to continue their learning process. So far, the consortium has conducted several online sessions.
Dr. Naveen S Salins, Coordinator, Manipal Comprehensive Cancer Care Centre, says that such a collaborative approach is especially important in cancer care, where, for example, intricate details about genetic mutations in a patient’s tumor necessitate the combined expertise of basic and translation scientists as well as clinicians to not only select the precise treatment for the patient but also to ensure that the patient receives the best possible outcome. However, he adds that the thrill of collaborating across continents to advance global cancer research and training is counterbalanced by the hurdles of securing financial funding for the consortium’s ambitious programs. Given the benefits of inter-institutional collaborative projects that create infrastructure, boost capacity, and improve the research fervor and overall cancer care environment in participating countries, such financing is expected from public, commercial, or charitable sources.
Inter-institutional collaboration efforts, according to Dr. Sharath K Rao, Dean, Kasturba Medical College, MAHE are urgently needed, particularly in India, to enable the construction of cooperative infrastructure projects and ensure the continuity of cancer patient care in participating hospitals. Dr. C. Mallikarjuna Rao, Principal of Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, MAHE stressed the importance of the consortium exhibiting its commitment to cross-disciplinary collaboration to improve the quality of care for cancer patients.