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Yale Takes First Look At The Politics Of Cancer Treatment

Evan Agostini
Siddhartha Mukherjee, author and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia, at a screening of "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies" in New York. Mukherhjee will be a keynote speaker at Yale's Politics, Policy and Law of Cancer conference this week.

Some of the world’s top cancer researchers and doctors will meet at Yale Law School this week to figure out how to remove legal barriers to treatment.

The idea came to Yale Law Professor Abbe Gluck a few years ago. Gluck, the conference organizer, says then-Vice President Joe Biden had called a special summit after his son battled brain cancer.

Gluck sat in a room with the world’s leading cancer scientists discussing problems that keep treatments from getting to the public.

“The elephant in the room was the law. In many cases the obstacles had to do with barriers that were on the books, at say, the FDA, or fragmentation across different federal agencies. And I raised my hand and asked that question, ‘Well, what are we doing about the legal component of this?’”

Gluck says nobody in the room knew how to answer that question. And thus the Politics, Policy and Law of Cancer conference came together, as a unique partnership between the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School, Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center.

At the conference, scientists and legal experts will discuss things like access to treatment and insurance, as well as federal funding for cancer research. Gluck says those are several issues that will come up in the debate over the federal budget that expires that same day.

Registration for the Politics, Policy and Law of Cancer conference is still open. The public can view the conference for free via live web stream.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.