Beets-Tan will advise the European Commission on research and innovation in the field of cancer. She is the only Dutch citizen among the 15 members of this Mission Board for Cancer.
She specializes in the imaging of cancer in the abdomen, colon cancer in particular.
Horizon Europe is the new €100 billion research and innovation Framework Programme and is the successor to Horizon2020. It will run from 2021-2027. Five overarching "Missions" have been designated within Horizon Europe, major and inspiring social challenges that will be worked on within Europe in a public-private partnership. The framework program will start in 2021, with a budget of 100 billion euros for large multidisciplinary public-private partnership programs.
The Mission Board for Cancer is led by Nobel Prize winner Harald zur Hause, who discovered that the HPV virus causes cervical cancer. The Mission Boards will define major themes (the missions) in Horizon Europe and advise the European Commission on them. Besides the Mission Board for Cancer, there are also boards for Climate Change, Healthy Oceans, Climate-neutral Cities and Healthy Soil and Food. Cancer is, therefore, the only (bio)medical Mission Board.
Regina Beets-Tan on her vision for cancer research:
'In recent decades, major steps have been taken worldwide in cancer treatment by investing heavily in research and innovation. Screening programs have ensured that we can detect tumors at earlier stages. We have gained more insight into the growth and behavior of cancer and can, therefore, treat more precisely, focusing the treatment only on the tumor while at the same time using molecular imaging to see if the treatment is working.
Pre-treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or combinations of these can drastically shrink tumors so that patients have to undergo a less aggressive operation with a better quality of life. More effective treatments for metastatic disease now give this patient group a chance to live longer. There is also the emergence of artificial intelligence and lightning-fast developments in imaging technology to look deeper into the tumor and portray the micro-environment of the tumor.
We are at the start of all these developments and it is clear that the EU wants to invest and, with the creation of the "EU Mission Board for Cancer", wants to focus on major themes that will make a difference in cancer care. I am thinking, for example, of an EU-wide implementation of screening programs, for more cancer types than is possible today, of innovative fundamental and translational research, and research in the field of cancer survivorship and digital big data.
Missions have a high chance of success if the issue is approached from a multidisciplinary perspective. I think the EU Commission sees that, and the fact that I have a seat on the EU Mission Board for Cancer as a Radiologist is not only a personal honor but above all a recognition of the increasingly important role of cancer imaging.'