Unified in the Fight Against Cancer

I’m so proud to be an alumnus of UC Santa Cruz. Every time I learn more about what the university is up to, even in the face of a crippling public education budget and slashing finances, I think of how pretty much every single Banana Slug (our school mascot) was a whole bunch smarter than me. The UCSC Cancer Genomics Data Center is about to revolutionize cancer research and treatment.

It is no great secret that one of the greatest enemies of treating disease is the medicine business–fights over patents for drugs stop meaningful research from progressing the way it should. The science is there for us to be light years ahead of where we are in fighting disease, but the money grubbing, profit protecting corporations controlling patents are like spoiled schoolchildren vehemently protecting their own research and data, trying to keep progress a secret form every other researcher, so they can corner the market and obtain exclusivity on any new drugs or treatments. It is exactly the opposite recipe from how progress can be made. We learned this in kindergarten, people…but no. To make a buck, they try to keep everyone else in the dark.

David Hausler, a Distinguished Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, is building the biggest data base of cancer research in the world. Currently, each medical center and research hospital or lab works like a lone wolf, only studying their own data. With this Data Center, pooling the world’s research moves the cause ahead exponentially. Every tumor is different, and every cancer must be treated individually–by having an enormous amount of comparative cases, the scientific community is about to have a ton of additional information to help fight in more targeted, EFFECTIVE ways. It’s like, if you spent your entire life only reading The Sun Also Rises, and then one day, someone says to you, “Just open that door there. Through there is the entire New York City Library. Go to town!”

GO BANANA SLUGS!

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