Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 6-Month Mission Update

by Marilyn Luce Robertson

“Let’s do in 5 years what is typically done in 20.” 

– Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong speaking on the accelerated scope of the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 mission.


When the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 initiative was announced just six months ago, an ambitious work was set into motion. Bolstered by the decades of work leading up to the launch, and fueled by the passion and vision of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and hundreds of talented medical, scientific, and business and biotech professionals who have come alongside him, an unprecedented collaboration was born with a singular mission -- to conquer cancer once and for all.  The major accomplishments achieved within the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 Program in this 6-month launching stage have been phenomenal and stand as testimony to the devotion and commitment of all involved. Together, in keeping with Dr. Soon-Shiong’s vision, we have accomplished in just 6 months what might have taken 6 years.

Join us in celebrating the beginning – the beginning of Cancer Breakthroughs 2020, the beginning of hope for countless cancer patients, and the beginning of the end for cancer as we know it.

Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 6-Month Milestones

Consortium Milestones:

  • We announced the first National Pediatrics Consortium. Leading national children’s hospitals, pediatric cancer organizations and academic centers united with Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 to accelerate bringing the next-generation standard of cancer care and immunotherapy to children with cancer.
  • We established multiple Working Groups, including the Radiation and Immuno-Oncology Working Group, the Breast Cancer Working Group, the Head and Neck Working Group, and the Melanoma and Sarcoma Working Group. Leading experts from these respective fields will collaborate to develop and rapidly implement clinical trials that focus on immune approaches with novel targeted compounds, vaccines, and standard therapies.
  • We partnered with New England Cancer Specialists (NECS) to create a unique collaboration, providing the next-generation standard of cancer care through Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 to nearly 45,000 cancer patient visits per year in greater Northern New England.

Operational Milestones:

We have made significant progress in taking the vision of Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 to reality with some crucial tactical steps.

  • We saw health plans, medical centers and self-insured employers taking a bold step forward in changing the way cancer is treated by offering their members and employees coverage for GPS CancerTM, including forerunner Independence Blue Cross, who was very shortly followed by Bank of America, Phoenix Children's Hospital, and Sanford Health, who also made the move to cover the GPS CancerTM test.
  • Critical enablers of Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 were brought forward as we announced the availability of the GPS Cancer test and the launch of the GPS Cancer Genome Browser. Together, this ground-breaking technology will arm the physician with insight into the patient’s response and resistance to particular therapeutics before treatment begins.
  • Schulman IRB was selected as the national institutional review board of record, providing Central Review Services for National Immunotherapy Coalition (NIC) Clinical Trials. This partnership enables the rapid and efficient start-up of 15,000 research sites nationwide.

Clinical Milestones:

Lives are already being changed as a result of our ground-breaking research and technical advancements.

  • We shared positive preclinical data on a novel human monoclonal antibody that specifically targets ovarian and uterine cancer subtypes and demonstration of augmented tumor killing with high affinity CD16 Natural Killer cells as combination therapy brings us a step closer to personalized medicine for women diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer.
  •  Novel genetically engineered adenovirus vaccine designed to treat colon cancer showed, in Phase II testing, a more than doubling of survival rate, with little to no toxicity, with some patients alive now more than five years after receiving the colon vaccine while on no other therapy.
  • The FDA has now approved the vaccine for trials with patients with HER2 breast cancer, leading to studies including the very aggressive triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

Recognition Milestones:

The tireless efforts of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong have garnered recognition on a global scale, honoring his lifelong work in the fight against cancer.

  • Dr. Soon-Shiong was asked to participate on the Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific experts that will inform the scientific direction and goals at the National Cancer Breakthroughs Institute of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Breakthroughs Initiative.
  • Dr. Soon-Shiong was awarded the prestigious Bower Award for Business Leadership by The Franklin Institute.
  • Dr. Soon-Shiong was honored at the Vatican with the 2016 Pontifical Key Visionary Award, which recognizes medical innovators who change the course of history and reduce suffering on a global scale by blending visionary thinking with real action.

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