Federal Minister Karoline Edtstadler and Federal Minister Prof. Dr. Heinz Faßmann met with CCRI experts in order to exchange views on the topic of "Europe-wide research projects" against the background of the Future Conference to be held in autumn. The round table discussed future challenges: what has been learned from best practice examples and what it needs to improve the funding of basic, translational and clinical cancer research.
At an expert discussion with the Federal Minister for EU and Constitution Mag. Karoline Edtstadler and the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research Prof. Dr. Heinz Faßmann at CCRI, the discussion on necessary future measures for the promotion of childhood cancer research was opened in addition to a survey of the EU research projects running at CCRI.
The ministers gained insights into the "Horizon 2020" research grants currently running at CCRI and discussed with the scientists important desired focal points and goals for the upcoming EU Framework Program 2021 - 2027. The recommendations of the Cancer Mission Board will be decisive in the design of the program. Prof. Ladenstein as a member of the Cancer Mission Board represents the mandate for children, adolescents and young adults with cancer. "Heal more - heal better" is the mission statement which includes all areas of childhood cancer research and treatment: from basic and translational research to the best standard therapies and therapeutic innovation. This includes the dissolution of data silos from different areas of research and the DSGVO-compliant data consolidation and use, to gain new knowledge through technologies based on artificial intelligence. Predisposition and risk constellations in childhood cancer are also important research topics in order to develop early diagnosis and tailored therapies for children.
"For decades, CCRI has been researching and working in the field of pediatric oncology and, due to its proven competence in numerous international research projects, has set itself the goal of combining forces and knowledge through multinational networking in order to improve the clinical outcome of very rare diseases such as childhood cancer," said Prof. Ruth Ladenstein. "With lighthouse projects, we are constantly working to overcome the current inequalities in the chances of survival in Europe for young people with cancer and are seeking political dialogue with the member states in order to bring about relevant changes. Topics include twinning programs, essential drugs in cancer therapy, harmonized Europe-wide therapy optimization and integration of new innovative therapies by integrating translational research, the "Survivorship Passport" project as an instrument of transition, and patient-centered long-term aftercare and research.
In the expert panel, Prof. Wolfgang Holter and Assoc. Prof. Kaan Boztug underlined the relevance of cross-border research in order to ensure rapid and efficient application in patients. Due to the rarity of childhood cancer, CCRI acts in multidisciplinary teams and is integrated into international networks in both basic and clinical research, thus contributing to the optimization of complex therapy strategies.
"Within the framework of the Austria-Dialogues in the preparation for the conference on the future of Europe, I had the pleasure to visit CCRI together with Science Minister Heinz Faßmann in order to gain some insights into important work of the scientists. At a joint round table with experts, we discussed what measures are needed to intensify the fight against childhood cancer in the future. Cancer affects all sections of society, regardless of age, gender or income. If we do not act quickly, the number of new cancer cases in Europe could rise from around 3.5 million to 4.5 million by 2035," said Karoline Edtstadler, Minister for European Affairs.
"With "Horizon 2020", the European Union has already funded a wealth of forward-looking projects in the fields of research and innovation with around 75 billion euros between 2014 and 2020. Important progress has been made in the areas of basic research and product development in particular. Austria is particularly successful in Horizon 2020 and was able to raise EUR 1.52 billion in subsidies even before the actual end of the program. With "Horizon Europe", this success story now has a successor and is to be continued from 2021 to 2027, said Edtstadler. The program is divided into five missions, including the fight against cancer and climate protection. A further aim of "Horizon Europe" is to strengthen Europe as a research location and subsequently Austria, the Minister for Europe explained: "The European Union should become the world's innovation leader, because the corona crisis has made it clear to us that we are too dependent on other global players such as China. Programs such as "Horizon Europe" should strengthen the EU's resilience and help to pool European know-how and prevent the brain drain outside the European Union.
"For me, today's exchange has once again impressively underlined how important it is for Austrian top-level research to push the boundaries of knowledge together with European partners. We all benefit from this, and the weakest members of our society in particular benefit from it, as we can see from the excellent achievements of CCRI", said Science Minister Heinz Faßmann.
"By 2030, 3 million more people in Europe should be cured of cancer or live with the disease longer and in better quality. This is the goal of one of the future five missions in the new EU research framework program Horizon Europe. European cooperation in research and innovation will make an important contribution to achieving this goal in the coming years," concluded Faßmann.
In summary, this meeting dealt with the national status quo on the topic of "EU funding". It serves as a national starting point for future plans developed together with stakeholders and ministries, as well as the for the creation of synergies, both with the national measures of the individual EU Member States and with other EU action plans, in particular the European Cancer Plan.
Photos: Florian Wieser