Understanding Cancer Today

Read Transcript

[MUSIC] I have been curious from an early age, what makes me curious really for the last two decades is I see death unfortunately every week. I see people dying of cancer, I look into their eyes and they tell me, do you have any more drugs or something else to give me? And the answer is no.

And that makes me be curious because I realize that that curiosity is going to be the only thing that I can do to help them improve their condition, which is strive for a new way to treat these diseases and strive for a new way of thinking about these diseases. We need to learn from our experience, we need to learn from other fields, we're not looking at these events like an engineer would, like a mathematician or a physicist would, and I want people to think like that.

You know Galileo would go out every night and map the stars in the sky, and after four months he could tell you where every star was in the sky. He didn't even know what a star was, so my field has spent the last 50 years trying to understand the individual cancers on every little thing about it.

Our job is to control it, it's a different parameter of control, it doesn't necessitate understanding. It's 40 years since Nikson declared the war on cancer. We've sequenced the human genome, we've sequenced the cancer genome. We've learnt a tremendous amount about cancer, we're not that much better in general at treating cancer.

There are little winds here and there and hopefully they put 10 for better out come in the future, but what we need to do now is take that base fundamental understanding and do things differently. But we don't need to target the cancer cell per say, we can target the body, our complex system and make it so that cancer does not like to grow.

To me cancer is a verb, you are cancering and I want to take you from that verb state cancering to a health state. I don't necessarily want to shrink the cancer because that may not make you live longer or better. My job is to make people live better and longer, and even if they succumb to a disease, if I have helped them live better and a quality life, I have done a good job.

It's what makes me feel good, but at the same time it's difficult, but the hope is, I can make a difference, and I see what's happening, I see the pipeline of the pharmaceutical companies, I see the technology that is coming down the road and I have hope and that hope is what drives me on..