TO OUR READERS
Ralph deVere White, M.D.
Director, UC Davis Cancer Center
At this year's meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Andy von Eschenbach, director
of the National Cancer Institute, announced it is his goal to oversee the elimination of suffering and
death from cancer by 2015.
That the director of the nation's top cancer organization has set such an ambitious goal is good news
for all of us. At the UC Davis Cancer Center,
we look forward to working with the 60 other National Cancer Institute-designated centers nationwide to
meet this goal.
Increasing the number of cancer patients who participate in clinical trials will be critical to achieving
the 2015 objective. Overall only 3 percent of cancer patients participate in trials, a rate that has not
improved in more than two decades. Low participation rates prolong drug development and delay patient
access to potentially effective new agents. To address this issue, the National Cancer Institute and five
major drug makers in July awarded $6 million to six cancer centers. We are extremely proud to be one of
the six. We were awarded $1 million to develop effective methods to boost participation. Dr. Lucky Lara,
an expert on barriers to clinical trial enrollment, is the principal investigator. The significance of
his project is underscored by the fact that the grant was announced at the capitol in Washington, D.C.,
by both Dr. von Eschenbach and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.
Also in July, we celebrated the first anniversary of our National Cancer Institute designation with a
beautiful musical recital by Misha Segal, an internationally known film composer and pianist. The Emmy-winning
musician has scored more than 80 movies, including "Phantom of the Opera," and has two jazz
albums on the charts. Mr. Segal came to us in memory of his mother, Elisabeth Bucchalter Segal, who died
two years ago after a long battle with lung cancer. Before an audience of patients, faculty and staff,
Mr. Segal performed a collection of piano improvisations he composed and played for her during her illness.
He is determined to honor Elisabeth Segal by playing the songs she loved at every NCI-designated cancer
center in the country. His concert here, his first in Northern California, was a huge success, and we
could not have celebrated our anniversary in a more meaningful way. We hope that we will see Mr. Segal
on many more occasions.
As 2003 ends and 2004 begins, we have many reasons to be thankful the Auburn community prominently
among them. In the last two years a small group of dedicated volunteers has raised $500,000 for cancer
research at UC Davis Cancer Center.
Two events this summer alone added nearly $200,000 to the fund: a tremendously successful celebrity golf
tournament and auction hosted by football Hall of Famer Jim Otto and his wife Sally at the Auburn Valley
Country Club, and a splendid fundraiser hosted by the United Auburn Indian Community at Thunder Valley
Casino. We are indebted to everyone who worked so hard to put on these events, and to everyone in Auburn
and South Placer County who turned out yet again to support us. The Auburn community is truly an inspiration
to us all, and we hope many other groups will follow this group's lead.