Global Collaboration Essential to Achieve a Cure for Myeloma
“Our primary objective is to cure myeloma by preventing malignant transformation in patients at risk.” Those are the words of Bruno Paiva, principal investigator of our Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI) project in Pamplona, Spain. To truly achieve this, the 200-plus members of the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) are collaborating on and implementing multiple research projects around the world.
However, in the face of this past weekend’s immigration and travel controversy, it is important to note that more than 90% of IMWG members are foreign-born immigrants to the United States or reside in 35 other countries around the globe. This global intellectual capital is a key element of our success, and the IMF is alarmed by measures that threaten international research collaboration.
We are not alone. A statement this week from The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) emphasizes the importance of a large membership of researchers from multiple countries globally: “Millions of cancer survivors are alive today because of the progress made possible by scientific collaborations. Progress… will falter if the close-knit global community is divided…” American universities and the tech industry have also expressed their alarm about constraints to immigration. A full 25% of practicing physicians here were born in another country, and foreign-born healthcare workers provide vital patient support in the US.
The New England Journal of Medicine posted two editorials expressing serious concern over the travel ban’s impact on international physician training and US healthcare, here and here.
We are alert to issues that can slow our research momentum. To continue to move Black Swan Research projects and achievements ahead, we need the ability to stay together, work together and bring in the best researchers to universities and centers of excellence, no matter their country of origin.
To get an idea of what is at stake, I have created a table which summarizes the 10 Steps of the Black Swan Research Initiative. How each step is progressing is displayed in the attached figure. The initial achievements and publications are listed, along with ongoing projects and anticipated next steps. Each of the 10 Steps is moving forward, each with important early achievements to sustain the momentum. Our commitment to myeloma patients everywhere is to overcome all roadblocks, push forward to achieve cure for all patients, and, as noted in Step 10, set programs in place to prevent myeloma from developing in the first place.
We will update the 10 Steps to Understanding the Black Swan Research Initiative regularly so that you may follow the progress of our investigative team, whose members work each day – without boundaries – to bring us closer to a cure.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.