Dr. Jorge Gomez of the National Cancer Institute is on the front lines of the growing international effort to address the threat of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Dr. Gomez, Director of the Institute's Office of Latin American Cancer Program Development, is spearheading collaborations with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay through the United States -- Latin America Cancer Research Network (US-LA CRN). The Network engages at both the government to government and investigator levels to build cancer research capacity, provide specialized training and co-develop cancer research studies in those countries and in the United States.
"International research collaboration is critical to our success in fighting cancer, a problem so immense that we must gather ideas from scientists everywhere so that we can confront the disease in the most comprehensive way possible," says Gomez.
Worldwide, NCDs, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, kill over 35 million people each year. More than 80 percent of those deaths are in low and middle income countries. The enormous challenges posed by NCDs will frame a high-level meeting at this year's UN General Assembly in September. Dr. Gomez's activities are among many U.S. collaborative initiatives worldwide designed to support research and country-based actions to address NCDs. By profiling the breast cancer sub-types of thousands of female cancer patients, Dr. Gomez and his associated researchers will be able to determine the most effective diagnosis and treatment options for these unique demographic groups -- options that could be applicable to Latinas in the United States.
As we approach the UN's high-level meeting on NCDs, it is clear that much needs to be done to come to grips with the NCD threat. Part of the answer lies with greater collaboration of the kind Dr. Gomez is leading in Latin America, where targeted research will hopefully result in effective local strategies to combat the NCDs.