Former Facebook President Sean Parker Launches Initiative To Foster Collaboration Among Cancer Researchers


Former Facebook president Sean Parker's $250 million initiative called Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy aims to push forward the development of new and effective cancer treatments. He is calling for scientists across the country to share their findings and accelerate cancer treatment.

The institute's program is called the "Immunology Research Dream," which is co-created by Cancer Research Institute (CRI) and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C).

"The Immunotherapy Dream Team is focused on two approaches for this translational cancer research project, which will unite laboratory and clinical efforts towards the immunological treatment, control and prevention of cancer," the institute wrote on its website.

Parker's cancer research initiative will consist of over 300 researchers from six major cancer centers in the country. It will also have more than 40 research labs.

The goal is to foster collaboration among the top researchers in the field of cancer immunotherapy. In this type of cancer treatment, the immune system is utilized to prevent cancer cell growth.

The Silicon Valley billionaire wants to break the walls that separate hundreds of research labs across the country who are competing against each other. These groups rarely share their study findings, a practice that can potentially delay major breakthroughs.

"Any breakthrough made at one center is immediately available to another center without any kind of IP (intellectual property) entanglements or bureaucracy," said Parker.

Parker wants these scientists to collaborate rather than work separately. Similar to the music-sharing website Napster he co-founded, Parker wants his initiative to become a hub where top cancer researchers share findings.

This institute-initiated collaboration encourages borrowing resources and extra funding. It will also have a central screening committee wherein contributing university labs are represented.

While findings are shared on medical journals, Parker aims to translate the findings into actual cancer treatments.

The program's critics said this model could be introducing a type of "group think," which could halt innovation and nonconformal thinking. Parker said the initiative will function with a core principle of "freedom of innovation in concert with collaboration."

This collaboration framework could lead to new breakthroughs in cancer research and faster developments and deployment of new cancer therapies.

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