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Outline of the Asia Cancer Forum

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits equally. Based on that spirit enshrined in the Declaration, with the aim of overcoming the common challenge of cancer that is faced by humanity as a whole, and linking it to human life in the Asian region, we have attempted to bring together several types of "intelligence", which we have subsumed as the "3Cs."

  • Collective Intelligence
  • Contextual Intelligence
  • Continuous Intelligence

--- Asia Cancer Forum Organizer --- Norie Kawahara

Direction

The Asia Cancer Forum will embark in various directions as it seeks to elucidate what are the possible main themes for scientific research in the Asian region, what would be beneficial in the short term and what can be achieved in the long term. This will be achieved by focusing on clinical and epidemiological information concerning cancer and embarking upon wide-ranging exploratory activities, which will then be shared through the platform of the forum itself.

What is now required is that we base our work on scientific research performed to date, from which we distill and polish specific themes that can be seen through to a high degree of completion. Standardization of research, however, is still a difficult challenge and there are many cases in which unusable or unscientific data is criticized. The question therefore is what we can do in Asia to improve the situation. The guiding philosophy of this Forum is that even if no immediate solutions are apparent, in order to widen innovative scientific cancer research, we must ensure a broad field for the implementation of trials, and look with openness and diversity as we first engage in exploratory activities.

For example, we must engage in discussion on the merits, demerits and risks associated with a network that would serve as a model for sharing information. We must also discuss what the merits, demerits and risks of a centralized information organization would be in contrast to the creation of a network. The very existence of a forum for discussion and exploratory activities will provide a direction which we can use in common to overcome the undefined and nebulous measures we currently have in place. It will also provide a significant source of support for moving on to the next stage and the creation of specific targets.

Why create a Forum?

Asian countries are currently undergoing rapid change. A challenge that we face is that unless research on the Asian region is transformed, moving forward to proactively assess previous research results or new results arising from the changing situation in the region, and unless these research results are used as a basis for creating policy proposals in the near future, the very implementation of research itself will face difficulties and its effectiveness will decrease.

In general, with regard to the selection of research programs and the judgment standards of evaluation committees, it is the case that attention focuses on research that provides clear data. the selection of research programs. We cannot simply expect that the creation of proposals with policy potential and the amalgamation of wisdom that is very difficult to distill from a wide range of sources can be easily achieved.

In addition, there is also a tendency for domestic researchers to look inwards to their various areas of expertise and immediate circle of peers. Overall cooperation is therefore disjointed and this makes the selection of key human resources incredibly difficult.

The life sciences are built around a circular relationship among medicine, research and industry (pharmaceutical development), and the participants in this Forum will gather from these various sources and disciplines with the aim of viewing the "big picture" of this life science circle from various angles but from a common starting point, engaging in expert, scientific and logical discussion.

It could well be said that this Forum aims to move away from rigid perspectives focused on national interest, and become a parent research organization that will realize organic cooperation towards "investment of social capital and information creation for future-oriented international medical cooperation."

We firmly believe that the role that such a wide-area forum will play in Asian medical cooperation will continue to grow in the future.

Overall Blueprint

The two crucial and elemental pillars necessary for the formation of an Asian Cancer Information Network are as follows:

  1. Mutual necessity
  2. Justified theory

Activities on an initiative for the formation of an Asian Cancer Information Network have been ongoing since 2004, when we first proposed it at the second meeting of the Asia High Technology Network, held in Busan, Korea. Since then the initiative has been discussed every year at the Asia High Technology Network in the format of a working group.

With regard to the Japan-China initiative for cooperation in medicine discussed by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Hu Jintao of China in 2007, a substantive start was made when, in November 2007, a meeting of the Asia Cancer Information Network was held in Nanjing, China.

These developments have contributed to the formation of a matrix concerning the entire concept for an Asia Cancer Network, based on work completed to date.

The matrix as it currently stands has two axes.

The horizontal axis represents the significant challenge of addressing the current situation in which activities in Asia are being advanced in a directionless manner. These activities include the development of cancer research tools based on commonalities among Asian nations that have become apparent through the circular interaction between medicine, research and industry (pharmaceutical development), epidemiology of ethnic groups, and ethnic genome mapping, all of which are being advanced in a nebulous and unfocused manner. The vertical axis represents the two directions that should be considered for future action. These are:

  • Top-down approach: Knowledge and power focused in a high-level forum to discuss the ideal format for future approaches.
  • Bottom-up approach: Information collection and distribution relating to clinical and life-style customs.
  • There is also a need for a feasibility study to be implemented to clarify what can be done in various fields in Asia.

In order for the Asia Cancer Forum to more accurately and speedily acquire Asia-related information in the international community, we are working in cooperation with the Bethesda, Washington D.C.-based think tank Washington Core. (http://wcore.com)

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