President of Lung Cancer Europe and molecular biologist, Dr. Anne-Marie Baird says personalized medicine should mean the best medicine, care, and support for people on an individualized basis
Tell us more about yourself?
I am a molecular biologist and have worked extensively on mesothelioma and lung cancer, with research interests in inflammation, the metastatic cascade, drug resistance, and disease biomarkers. I am currently a Senior Research Fellow in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Outside of that, I have been active in the lung cancer advocacy space since 2012 and was elected as the president of Lung Cancer Europe (LuCE) in May 2020, having served as a board member for two years. LuCE is a non-profit umbrella organization with over 30 members from more than 20 European countries. LuCE aims to be the voice of people impacted by lung cancer at a European level, advocating for improvements in lung cancer diagnostics, treatment, and care. Everything we do centers on our three core pillars of awareness, education, and advocacy. I also serve on the European Cancer Organisation Patient Advisory Committee and several other scientific and advocacy committees.
What does personalized medicine mean to you?
To me, this is a dynamic and wide-ranging term. I believe that it should translate as the best medicine, care, and support for people on an individualized basis, which changes as needed throughout the entire care pathway. It is a term that has been used so widely that we need to remind ourselves that this idea of ‘personalized medicine’ is not a reality for everyone impacted by cancer.
Why do you believe this topic is important? Do you have a personal angle?
Just as no two tumors are the same, no two people are the same. Therefore, it is important to find out as much about the person and their tumor as possible in order to provide the absolute best care.
Why is your organization interested in participating in this multi-stakeholder collaboration?
Lung cancer is a complex heterogeneous disease, therefore it is crucial that people know as much about their tumor type as possible, as this will help to identify the best possible care. There is so much information out there that it can be difficult to wade through it and find accurate quality information. We believe that being part of this larger community will make it easier to map what already exists, identify gaps, and design solutions to fill those gaps. It will also provide a platform to share best practices with other groups as we move toward more tumor agnostic therapies in the future.
What has Lung Cancer Europe been doing in this space?
In LuCE, we have co-created molecularly targeted information with other stakeholders in the field. We have also improved education and awareness through on-line activities, webinars, and our education program. In February of last year, we launched a paper that examined lung cancer care in Europe. The research identified disparities in access to testing and innovative therapies across and within European countries, and also found that many people do not know if their tumor had been tested or if any alterations were found.
What makes this collaboration unique?
This collaboration is unique in that it combines many different groups from all over the globe, with multiple parallel project strands. It has also built from the beginning with patients, with co-creation at its core.
What are your ultimate expectations from the project?
To provide graspable tools that will have an impact on the real-world experience of patients.