Monday, April 18, 2016

FUNDING A CURE - Sean Parker

"Why tech titan Sean Parker is bankrolling collaborative cancer research" PBS NewsHour 4/13/2016


SUMMARY:  Sean Parker made his fortune as the co-founder of Napster and first president of Facebook.  Now, the tech entrepreneur and billionaire hopes to change medicine by creating a new kind of research network.  Parker gave out a $250 million grant Wednesday to six of the nation’s leading medical schools and cancer centers to fund collaborative immunotherapy research.  Parker joins Judy Woodruff for more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  A young tech magnate places a big bet on a different approach to fighting cancer.

Sean Parker made a name for himself as the co-founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook.  The billionaire is still actively involved in the start-up world, but he’s now dedicated a significant part of his fortune to medicine and fighting disease.

Today, he announced a major initiative, a $250 million grant to help fund research and collaboration in immunotherapy among six of the country’s leading medical schools and cancer centers.  It’s the largest gift ever of its kind.

And he joins me now from Los Angeles.

Sean Parker, welcome.

So where does this passion, the drive to do something about cancer come from?

SEAN PARKER, Founder, Parker Inst. for Cancer Immunotherapy:  Well, we have all had our own personal experience with cancer.

Virtually no one is untouched by cancer, whether they have had the disease themselves, one of their loved ones has had it, one of their friends.  You know, half of all men and a third of all women will have cancer in their lifetime.

And what’s — what is especially frustrating is, despite all of these advances in genomics and understanding of the drivers behind cancer, progress over the last 20 years just hasn’t been fast enough.  And, as somebody who has spent his life as an entrepreneur trying to pursue kind of rapid, disruptive changes, I’m impatient.

And I think — I think that patients and their families and doctors are impatient as well.  And as I began to look at this problem more closely, it was clear that we needed both new technology platforms, like immunotherapy, but we also need to figure out how to collaborate and cooperate better within the world of academic science in order to really solve the problem.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  You’re zeroing this money in on immunotherapy.  Why?

SEAN PARKER:  So, immunotherapy is an incredibly promising technology.

It has a very long history going back 100 years.  In fact, it was believed at one point that cancer was caused by an insufficiency of the immune system.  Turned out that wasn’t entirely false.  Cancer is kept in check in the early stages by the immune system.  The immune system is also an incredibly powerful weapon.  It’s really good at recognizing cells that have mutations, our cells that are different, look different.

And so it makes perfect sense that we should be able to harness the power of the immune system, which works with your own body, in order to target cancer and destroy it.

No comments: