The drive was pleasant enough. Even though it began at about the same time that the birds started their morning serenades, the sun was out, clouds were nonexistent, and the road was relatively abandoned with only a few patrol cars positioned to keep me attuned to the necessity to continue to embrace all practices of good citizenship.
The appearance of the meeting room is pleasant enough. The coffee is a cross between Maxwell House and Starbucks, and, thank goodness the pots have kept it hot because the room is a typical conference room. It's freezing. I'm not sure what the instructions say in the "How to Run a Conference" manual, but every time I attend one of these, I regret the fact that my Northface Parka wasn't in my fake leather, rolling duffel bag.
Why are we here? We are here with our partners from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to put together all of our plans for our breast research project from 2010 thru 2015. Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of Ole Boy jokes about just being happy to still be a participating member of civilization on this planet seven years from now, but generally, it is a planning session designed to discipline us to continue to challenge our vision, a vision that will be valid for years to come.
As my eyes grow increasingly stronger, well, not my eyes, but my vision, it is clear that we had created goals in 2001 that were extremely far reaching, but not completely fund-able. Fortunately, we have come a very long way since then. When we first started this work, a terabyte of data storage cost about $1 million dollars. Now, you can buy 2 terabytes of storage for $720 or less. When we started, we wanted to do genomic and proteomic analysis on all of our donated samples. That goal was millions of dollars out of our reach. Now, the cost has come down dramatically enough that it is feasible and possible for us to do this.
So, were we too visionary? As it turns out, we were not. The rest of the world was not visionary enough. Dr. Craig Shriver, our principal investigator on this project, brilliantly designed it around risk reduction, a biorepository (tissue bank), extensive molecular analysis, biomedical informatics and clinical care. Obviously, clinical care was the key goal, but, most importantly, cures, early detection, and amazing new diagnostic discoveries were the fundamental priorities.
Can we convert this research into something that is not only cutting edge, but revolutionary in terms of results? Yes we can, and yes it will be. The hundreds of people involved with the Clinical Breast Care Project have literally dedicated their lives to improving all of our lives by helping those individuals who will face this disease either from a genomic abnormality or an environmentally generated source.
So, excuse me while I finish my lunch and dive deeply back into these discussions.
"Pass the ketchup, please, my mushroom tastes a little woodsie."