The 7th Annual Partnering for Cures meeting hosted by FasterCures was held Nov. 1-3 in NYC with more than 750 movers and shakers from patient groups, pharma, academia, government and industry. Some notable participants included: Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director; Michael Milken, Chairman, Milken Institute; Dr. Brian Druker, OHSU Knight Cancer Center and GIST pioneer; Will Reeve, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and many other cutting edge thinkers who all share a common goal of bringing about cures for disease, faster and more efficiently. As summed up by Mike Milken, “The spirit of the conference is to stop talking and do something… we are all here to focus on what’s important – to eliminate life-threatening diseases for the family of mankind.”

The recurring themes of the conference were Data Sharing, Collaboration and Patient Centeredness. Here are some conference takeaways:

  • On Data: “There are eight billion mobile devices in the world – more phones than people. Many countries in developing nations have gone straight to wireless, and many of them don’t have much regulation of research and healthcare. There is a revolution in patient empowerment through health data coming and mobile data will be at the center.” (Mike Milken)
  • On Sharing Data: “There is a need for better data-sharing infrastructure – with patients and by patients. Technical barriers to data sharing are cultural, especially among academic institutions. Medicine should be at least as good as Netflix at analyzing data for the benefit of consumers.” (Isaac Kahone)
  • On Patient Input: “There is no substitute for patient input. It’s very different to hear from patients directly than it is to hear from translators trying to speak on their behalf. Patients must participate in all aspects of research. What we need is not just an army of patient advocates, but an army of patient scientists.” (Jeffrey Shuren)
  • On Research Collaboration: The Precision Medicine Initiative (which will collect health data from one million participants) presents a unique opportunity, given the confluence of the genomic revolution, the growing ability to track our health, increasing public interest in participation and partnership in research and more appetite for collaboration. Francis Collins hopes the “big, hairy audacious goal” of the PMI will inspire researchers and other stakeholders to be involved. Adding that “you can’t herd cats, but you can move their food,” referring to the incentives created by new NIH funding and the requirements that will come with it.
Marisa Bolognese (left), and Sara Rothschild (right) with Dr. Brian Druker.

Marisa Bolognese (left), and Sara Rothschild (right) with Dr. Brian Druker.

Reminding the attendees of the role they play to question and change the status quo, the final session concluded with the inspiring words of anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that does.” Will Reeve echoed this sentiment in recalling his father’s certainty that a cure for spinal cord injuries could be found: “At first your dreams are impossible, and then they are improbable and finally, when you summon the will they become inevitable.” Words to live by and very much seconded by the Life Raft Group as we continue in our tireless search to find a cure for GIST.

To hear more from the speakers and read about all the sessions at Partnering for Cures check out these links:

See videos from all the sessions on Partnering for Cures 2015

You Tube:

Tumblr link with recaps of all the sessions:

Twitter link:

The Power of Ideas