For 10 of the last 25 years, it has been my privilege to serve as CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Some might say I’m an odd kind of CEO because I’m not a businessman, I’m a doctor and a scientist. Over 30 years ago I took an oath to serve patients. And in no place has that oath been easier to fulfill than here at PCF.
In 1985, as a young physician-scientist coming out of Johns Hopkins, among the most important lessons imparted to me by my mentor Donald S. Coffey, PhD, was this: experimentation isn’t about being right or wrong, but rather about learning something new or unexpected.
So much of what I’ve been able to accomplish for patients is a product of PCF’s innovative thinking and bold action. PCF has truly transformed the global culture of how the cancer community does research. As a patient fighting for your life or your livelihood, you might wonder whether that’s a necessary and important thing to pay attention to (and I might agree), but as an oncologist physician and CEO whose job it is to make sure we make progress on your behalf, let me assure you it is.
These are my top 10 revolutionary ways PCF shakes things up in the research world, so that we can catalyze progress, innovate, and deliver the best treatments for patients and families:
- We bring together the world’s best and the brightest working on the most promising ideas.
- We brought prostate cancer out of the shadows and into a topic of public discussion.
- We require researchers to share unpublished data with each other.
- We were transparent with every dollar we spent, before transparency was trendy.
- We have always given scientists the flexibility to fail in order to succeed boldly.
- We reward entrepreneurial behavior and speed progress.
- We fund interdisciplinary teams of scientists who make innovative drugs that drug companies couldn’t even conceive of.
- We invest in brilliant (but often unknown) young researchers with the most game-changing ideas and fearless desire to help patients.
- We catalyzed partnership – among government, biopharma, academia, and other foundations.
- We’re shifting our focus to curing the whole family. Thanks to research funded by PCF, we now know that some of the most aggressive prostate cancers out there are caused by inherited genes that cross over to other cancers. As just one example, if you have prostate cancer, your daughter may be at increased risk for breast cancer. We think that’s critical research for patients to hear about, and for us to fund.
Here’s the last and final thing I think you need to know: stay tuned. In the next few years, we’ll see medicine so revolutionary that science will finally begin to catch up to science fiction.
Yours in service,
Jonathan Simons, MD
President and CEO