On February 5, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering hosted its seventh annual Winter Lunch to support its Precision Medicine for MSK Kids initiative. More than 275 guests attended this year’s event, which was sponsored by Net-a-Porter for the fifth consecutive year, at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.
The lunch featured special guest speaker Andrew Kung, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. He spoke about the current landscape of pediatric cancer care and research as well as what’s on the horizon. He called out the impact of philanthropic partners like The Society, which has raised more than $2 million to power research at MSK Kids since 2015.
“The outlook for childhood cancer has changed,” Dr. Kung said at the event. “When I started medical school, only 20 percent of children diagnosed with cancer survived their disease. Thirty years later, 80 percent of children with cancer are cured.”
Still, he said, there is more work to be done.
“For any parent whose child has cancer, 80 percent is not good enough, and it’s not good enough for a pediatric oncologist either,” he said.
Doctors and researchers at MSK Kids are making strides toward increasing the cure rate for childhood cancer through an approach called precision medicine. With this method, doctors identify the genetic mutations that make a child’s tumor grow so they can use the best drugs to slow or stop it. “The goal is to be able to consistently match the right drug to the right patient at the right time,” Dr. Kung said.
MSK Kids has built significant momentum toward that new era, he said, which would not be possible without philanthropic support.
“On behalf of our patients at MSK Kids,” Dr. Kung said in his closing remarks, “I thank The Society for the support that allows us to bring the precision cancer medicine program of tomorrow to the children of today who simply cannot wait.”
The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, founded in 1946, is a volunteer-led organization within MSK dedicated to promoting the well-being of patients, supporting cancer research, and providing public education on the early prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.