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Dr. Ellie Daniels moves from interim to permanent SVP, Extramural Discovery Science

Elvan “Ellie” Daniels, MD, MPH, has moved into the SVP, Extramural Discovery Science role permanently. She had been serving as interim lead since April 1, and as a member of the Office of Cancer Research and Implementation (OCRI) leadership team since mid-January.

"Ellie’s leadership these last five months has been outstanding, and her list of accomplishments in this short period of time is impressive. She has a broad vision for expanding and diversifying our extramural research programs, along with detailed operational experience in all areas," said our Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Bill Cance, MD. "I have the utmost confidence that she is the right person for the job. She is passionate about cultivating a diverse research community and addressing health disparities which is so critical to our success," he added.

Under Dr. Daniels leadership this year we have launched three innovative programs to broaden our impact and extend the reach of our mission work: Diversity in Cancer Research – Internships, Institutional Development Grants to each of the four Historically Black Colleges and Universities medical schools, and Cancer Health Equity Research Centers at Minority Serving Institutions.

Dr. Daniels joined ACS in 2012. As senior scientific director for clinical and cancer control research, she oversaw research program development, pre-application management, peer review, and grant management in the areas of cancer prevention, screening and early detection, access to care, cancer treatment, palliative care, and survivorship. Research reviewed in her program included psychosocial and behavioral research, implementation and dissemination science, community-based participatory and practice-based research, clinical trials, and health equity research.

Dr. Daniels is a family physician who previously served as an associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine and directed the school’s Southeast Regional Clinician Network, a practice-based research network.

  • ACS CAN opposes Tennessee's Medicaid waiver request

    Says it would delay or eliminate access to early detection and treatment.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) made clear its strong objections to Tennessee’s Medicaid waiver request today in comments filed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS).

    Tennessee’s waiver request—which was approved by the Trump administration in January but reopened for federal public comments last month—would “block grant” the state’s TennCare program, thereby severely limiting federal funding to the state and essentially necessitating significant cuts to coverage and eligibility. The waiver also authorizes the state to establish a closed prescription drug formulary which could limit the prescription drugs available to treat complex conditions like cancer. 

    The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

    “Radically restructuring federal funding and removing critical operational rules governing the Tennessee Medicaid program would undoubtedly harm thousands of the most marginalized Tennessee cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease. Block grants, like the one being proposed in this waiver, do not account for economic downturns or major state disasters—like the state’s recent floods—which could create greater need for Medicaid coverage. Rather than federal funding automatically adjusting as needed, capped or block payments would remain the same, leaving the state and its residents financially vulnerable when they need help the most.

    “For cancer patients, these changes could mean delayed or eliminated access to early detection screenings and treatment, later-stage diagnosis with more severe or limited treatment options, and lower odds of survival. 

    “Additionally, allowing a closed formulary for prescription drugs would seriously disadvantage cancer patients. There is no single oncology drug that works to treat all cancers; oncology drugs often have different indications, different ways in which they work, and different side effects – all of which need to be managed to fit a patient’s individual needs. Denying people access to the most appropriate therapies would ultimately harm patients and could cost Medicaid more money in the form of increased medical visits and services due to poor health outcomes.

    “Waivers like Tennessee’s do not serve to improve the Medicaid program, but rather risk leaving thousands of people without the coverage they need to prevent, detect, and treat disease. We urge CMS and the Biden administration to rescind this waiver and protect patients’ critical access to care through the Medicaid program.”

    Read the full submitted comments.

  • Patient groups praise paid family and medical leave program

    ​Ways and Means Committee considers legislation to create the country’s first national paid family and medical leave program.

    More than a dozen patient advocacy organizations are commending the House Ways and Means Committee as it begins considering details of legislation to create the country’s first ever national paid family and medical leave program as part of the budget reconciliation package.

    The legislation includes up to 12 weeks of paid medical, parental, and caregiver leave for all workers starting in 2023, and would be structured to minimize economic hardship for all workers who need to take leave.

    “Paid family and medical leave is critical for people with serious illnesses and health conditions and their caregivers,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Cancer treatment and recovery—like many illnesses—is often difficult and drawn out. We need to do everything we can to ensure people can care for themselves and their loved ones without facing financial devastation.”

    The provisions included in the legislation meet many of the standards that more than two dozen patient and health care partners put forth in July detailing what a comprehensive family and medical leave program should include, such as inclusion of medical and caregiving leave, inclusion of an adequate, equitable, and sufficient duration of paid leave, and availability to all workers.

    Currently only about one-fifth of workers in the U.S. have access to employer-paid family leave and only two in five have access to short-term disability insurance through their jobs that allows them to receive partial pay while they recover from their own serious health issue. Fewer than 60% of workers qualify for job-protected, unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and workers of color, low-wage workers and single parents are disproportionately excluded.

    “We need Congress to act swiftly and ensure a meaningful and comprehensive leave program is included in the reconciliation package. Millions of American families need this essential benefit,” Lisa said.

    Here are the patient groups and partners calling for a paid family and medical leave policy: The AIDS Institute, Alliance for Aging Research, ALS Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Cancer Support Community, The Child Neurology Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Family Voices, Hemophilia Federation of America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Organization for Rare Disorders, Susan G. Komen, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease; UsAgainstAlzheimer's.

  • Sept. 13: A conversation about childhood cancer & communication

    How to improve parent-physician conversations and reduce stress.

    On Monday, Sept. 13, from 11 a.m. to noon ET, one current and one former grantee who focus on childhood cancer research will have a conversation with our colleague, Dr. Susanna Greer, senior scientific director, Clinical Cancer Research, on the social audio app Clubhouse. (Click here to learn about the Clubhouse app.)

    Join here and feel free to share the link with your partners and networks. There will be an audience Q&A for the last 15-20 minutes.

    Speakers and their topics will be:

    • Jennifer Mack, MD, MPH ,  Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Boston Children’s Hospital; “Communication between physicians and parents of children with cancer”
    • Anne Kazak, PhD, ABPP , Nemours Children’s Health System; “Medical traumatic stress in families of children with cancer”

  • FDA misses deadline, leaving harmful e- cigarettes on the market

    ACS CAN says allowing additional delays is "unconscionable."

    On Sept. 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to meet its court-ordered deadline to rule on all e-cigarette and other tobacco product manufacturers’ applications to keep their harmful products on the market.

    The Sept. 9 deadline was set as the result of a 2018 lawsuit filed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and numerous other public health groups challenging the FDA’s decision to delay reviewing products based on if they are “appropriate for the protection of the public health” until August of 2022.

    A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN follows:

    “The FDA’s failure today to act on applications by JUUL, the manufacturer with the single biggest e-cigarette market share, is extremely disappointing and will allow the industry to further endanger public health and hook more kids on their highly addictive products. The FDA has had ample time to review the applications and allowing additional delays is unconscionable. There is overwhelming data to demonstrate the negative impact these kinds of flavored products have had on public health and their role in the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The time to act is now.

    “If we are to reduce suffering and death from cancer, we must prevent youth tobacco initiation and FDA’s premarket review process must play an important role in that work. While we assess options for expediting this process in earnest and urge the FDA to move swiftly, federal, state, and local officials should continue their essential work regulating these highly addictive and harmful products.”

    The FDA said on Thursday that it had so far denied the applications of 946,000 flavored e-cigarette products to remain on the market, mostly made by small companies. Still undecided is how the regulatory agency will rule on the applications of Juul Labs and other major e-cigarette companies.

    Companies have to show that their vaping products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, and that their usefulness in helping smokers quit outweighs the risk that some people will start using nicotine through the products.

  • Mental health distress continued past lockdown

    ​Long-term impact needs monitoring, especially among those with pre-existing conditions.

    A new ACS report finds that many men and women in the U.S. continued to experience psychological distress, depression, and anxiety half a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Data show that during the pandemic, almost half (42%) of participants in the study reported at least mild psychological distress, and 10% of participants reported moderate-to-severe psychological distress. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as cancer, were more likely to report depressive symptoms during the pandemic.

    The study led by Corinne Leach, senior principal scientist, American Cancer Society, used data from our Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) cohort from two waves, 2018 and July- September 2020, to characterize levels of psychological distress among U.S. men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results appear in the journal, Lancet Regional Health-Americas.

    The study also identified factors associated with increased depression and anxiety during the pandemic, including sociodemographic characteristics, stressors, and comorbid conditions associated with increased risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes. A secondary focus examined the association of these factors with longitudinal change in psychological distress. Financial stressors, such as loss of employment and reduced compensation, or work/life balance stressors, such as caregiving responsibilities, were also examined. According to the data, individuals with these types of life stressors more likely had an escalation of psychological distress during the pandemic.

    The report suggests that adults are continuing to experience psychological distress beyond the initial lockdown period. The results of this and prior studies support the importance of regular mental health assessment and subsequent mental health support among those with a history of mental health issues and those who may be isolating to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 or other infections.

    Results also highlight the importance of investigating the continued and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health as social distancing, a factor previously associated with depression and anxiety, continues to be promoted over a year into the pandemic and as the world slowly opens again, potentially triggering different types of anxiety as people adjust to a new normal.

    Several learning opportunities for how to improve population mental health during and after pandemics, natural disasters, or other life-altering events have been created by the COVID-19 pandemic and regular mental health assessment by healthcare professionals is needed to better provide support for those at risk of developing, or those already experiencing, anxiety and depression,” said the authors. “These data from the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) cohort in particular will help clinicians identify populations vulnerable to persistent mental health and other long-term issues to provide earlier clinical support.”

    Article: Leach CR, Rees-Punia E, Newton CC, Chantaprasopsuk S, Patel AV, Westmaas JL. Stressors and Other Pandemic-Related Predictors of Prospective Changes in Psychological Distress. Lancet Regional Health-Americas. doi: 10.1016/j.lana.2021.100069.


  • Seeking: African American/Black caregivers for paid focus groups

    ACS is hosting online conversations this month and next to help us  better support cancer caregivers.

    The American Cancer Society wants to better understand how we can support people who provide care for a loved one with cancer, and we are hosting a series of confidential, paid online focus group conversations to learn more. 

    We’re looking to connect with African American or Black adults ages 18 and older who are currently providing care or have provided care in the past to someone with cancer. 

    Through these conversations, we are looking to understand:

    • Participants’ experiences caring for someone with cancer
    • Their unmet needs as a caregiver
    • Opinions on how we can best meet caregiver needs

    Here are the details:

    • Location: Zoom
    • Time commitment: 90 minutes or less
    • Reward: $50 payable by check
    • Confidential: No names will be used in our reporting and the information will not be shared with the person the participants cared for.

    Here are the dates: 

    • August
      1. Monday, August 30: 2 – 3:30 p.m. EST
      2. Tuesday, August 31: 5:30 – 7 p.m. EST
    • September
      1. Thursday, September 2: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST
      2. Tuesday, September 7: 5:30 – 7 p.m. EST
      3. Tuesday, September 14: 2 – 3:30 p.m. EST
      4. Tuesday, September 21: 5:30 – 7 p.m. EST

    Here’s how to participate: Email Asher Beckwitt, PhD, at

    Learn more - and share!

    Read this recruitment flyer and feel free to share it.

  • September Monthly Advocacy Update: ​Register now for ACS CAN's 20th anniversary celebration on Sept. 29.

    Below is a monthly message from Lisa A. Lacasse, president, ACS CAN:

    The month of September is always near and dear to ACS CAN, as it brings about our two largest events: Leadership Summit & Lobby Day, and Lights of Hope. 

    This September holds particular meaning as we prepare to mark 20 years since ACS CAN was founded in 2001. It’s a bit surreal to reflect on what the past two decades have meant for ACS CAN: momentous growth, incredible impact, significant public policy and grassroots milestones, and countless fond memories with our volunteer advocates and colleagues. I am so grateful for each cancer patient and survivor, volunteer, staff member, partner, and elected official who has contributed to our mission.

    More to follow in the coming weeks about how you can join in the celebration and honor ACS CAN’s legacy of meaningful impact. In the meantime, I hope you’ll mark your calendar for our 20th Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 29, a free virtual event featuring fun trivia about ACS CAN’s past, present and future! RSVP here.

    Lights of Hope Across America: Saturday, Sept. 18

    ACS CAN’s signature fundraising event is just weeks away! Lights of Hope Across America will be celebrated in communities across the country with a livestreamed ceremony at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 18. This powerful event will feature volunteers displaying their lights in front yards, community parks and iconic landmarks across the country, in honor of all those we fight for. I’m excited to participate live from Washington, D.C. alongside ACS CAN Board Chair Sandi Cassese. Set your calendar reminder here

    I invite those of you who have yet to donate to dedicate a Lights of Hope bag to a loved one who has been touched by cancer and visit our website for more details on the live event and other ways to share this impactful fundraiser, including with the hashtag #LightsOfHope. This event raises critical funds that allows us to have even greater impact on the fight against cancer, so please donate.

    #CancerLobbyDay: 2021 Leadership Summit & Lobby Day

    We’ll close the month with our 15th annual Leadership Summit & Lobby Day (LS&LD), when our advocates will meet virtually with their members of Congress to do what they do best: urge elected officials to make cancer a national priority.  

    LS&LD will start on Sunday, Sept. 26 as we celebrate our anniversary, honor our Advocacy Award recipients and hear from staff and volunteer leadership including ACS CAN Board Chair Sandi Cassese. Tuesday, Sept. 29 will kick off with remarks from our CEO Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, as well as some of our National Distinguished Advocacy Award winners, before ACS CAN advocates spend the day meeting virtually with their lawmakers and their staff about issues critical to our cancer fight, including cancer research and prevention funding and increasing affordability of care. Volunteers will participate in multiple trainings leading up to the event to hone their advocacy skills in preparation for their virtual Hill day.

    Visit our website for more event information, and follow the hashtag #CancerLobbyDay on social media to stay up-to-date on what will be an incredible few days in the fight against cancer.

     August Recess Grassroots Activities

    As is true every year, ACS CAN volunteers have been busy during Congress’ August recess, working to advance our federal policy priorities. Volunteers are submitting and asking questions at various Congressional townhalls related to our cancer advocacy agenda. Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) and Rep. Kai Kahele (HI-2) both answered our questions about making Affordable Care Act subsidies permanent to increase affordability of care for cancer patients.  

    President Biden Urges Capping Medicare Patient Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs 

    President Biden called on Congress to bring down patient prescription drug costs, including by establishing an annual cap on Medicare enrollees’ out-of-pocket expenses. ACS CAN appreciates this commitment to patient affordability and looks forward to working with the administration and lawmakers to identify ways to ease the financial burden of treatment, an issue of critical importance to cancer patients. Read our press statement here.

    Bipartisan Legislation Would Make It Easier for All Patients to Participate in Clinical Trials

    The DIVERSE Trials Act would increase racial, socioeconomic and geographic diversity in clinical trials and make it easier for all cancer patients to participate. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would help address health equity by allowing trial sponsors to reimburse patients for ancillary costs associated with trial participation, such as travel or lodging. ACS CAN strongly urges Congress to pass this legislation. Read our press statement here. 

    Upcoming Deadline: FDA to Grant or Deny Authorization of Sale for JUUL and other E-cigarette Products

    Sept. 9 is a court-mandated deadline for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine whether new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should be allowed to be sold in the U.S. In particular, ACS CAN and our public health partners submitted a letter to FDA in April, urging it to deny authorization of the sale of JUUL e-cigarette products that have been on the market for years, causing immeasurable damage to the public’s health. The letter asserts that evidence shows that JUUL’s marketing, use of flavors and high nicotine concentrations have greatly contributed to the youth tobacco epidemic. JUUL's products continue to have the largest share of the e-cigarette market.

    After FDA issued its first denials of flavored e-cigarettes last week, ACS CAN strongly urged the agency to continue this approach for all flavored products, including menthol, and to enforce their decisions swiftly. Read our press statement here.

    RSVP Now: Upcoming Virtual Events

    • Congressional Briefing: Paid Family and Medical Leave – On Sept. 14, ACS CAN will join with partner organizations to host a virtual panel discussion for policymakers and their staff, “Paid Family and Medical Leave: A Critical Need for Patients and Their Caregivers.” This timely event takes place as Congress is expected to begin consideration of the upcoming reconciliation package, which could potentially include several ACS CAN priorities related to health care, including a national paid family and medical leave program. ACS CAN recently established a coalition of patient advocacy organizations and interested partners to advocate for paid family and medical leave for people with serious illnesses and caregivers. RSVP here for the virtual panel. 
    • Medicaid in the U.S. Territories – Our next Medicaid Covers US virtual event will be on September 30th and will focus on the role of Medicaid in the U.S. territories, particularly the program’s role in addressing health disparities and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. Inequitable funding of Medicaid in the territories have threatened access to care and funding for health systems. ACS CAN is doing a significant amount of work, including supporting legislation that would provide an extension on funding for Medicaid in U.S. territories that will expire on Sept. 30 if no action is taken. RSVP here for the virtual event. 

    State & Local Advances

    • La Opinión, the nation’s most-read Spanish-language newspaper, published an op-ed authored by a Los Angeles pediatrician in partnership with ACS CAN, in support of our efforts urging the City Council to pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol. 
    • Illinois Gov. Pritzker signed into law legislation that will improve access to care for cancer patients by expanding coverage for biomarker testing, the first state to do so. ACS CAN helped with the successful bill passage by working closely with bill sponsors and activating our Illinois grassroots volunteers to make sure the legislature knew the law’s importance. Four million Illinoisans will have access to biomarker testing through Medicaid and state-regulated coverage, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
    • Kentucky ACS CAN advocates successfully defeated a proposed cigar bar exemption amendment to the local Louisville smoke-free ordinance. Advocates had conducted volunteer calls to the Louisville Metro Council to share our opposition to the amendment and this was a huge win against Big Tobacco. 
    • The North Carolina House’s state budget included a proposal to establish a new revenue fund for the money the state received as part of a settlement with e-cigarette company JUUL. $21 million would be dedicated to protecting kids and teens from tobacco. ACS CAN applauded the historic move while urging for sustained, adequate funding for the state’s long-underfunded tobacco prevention and cessation program. 

    Advocacy in the News

  • Sept. 9: ACS National Consortium to hold second Issue Hub

    Learn steps health care systems can take to better prepare for future disruptions.

    Register now for our Sept. 9 webcast to hear leading clinicians and researchers discuss vulnerabilities within our nation’s public health and healthcare systems that contributed to the decrease in cancer screening and care during the pandemic, as well as the further exacerbation of inequities. 

    Panelists will also explore and showcase concrete action steps that can be taken to build resilience in our public health and health care systems. These tangible solutions will not only prepare us for any ongoing or future disruptions to the delivery of cancer screening, diagnostics, and care, but will also aid in appropriately addressing persistent disparities. 

    This Issue Hub #2 is free and open to all, and will run from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST.

    Discussion objectives include:

    • Understand where there are weaknesses and/or vulnerabilities in the U.S. health care system that worsened outcomes in cancer screening and care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Identify steps for strengthening our health care systems to be better prepared and equipped to address future disruptions (e.g. pandemics, natural disasters, etc.).
    • Learn how some systems have successfully navigated cancer screening and care during the pandemic and improved outcomes.

    The American Cancer Society (ACS) National Consortium is developing bold but sensible recommendations toward the safe and equitable recovery of cancer screening and care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    On June 1, the consortium welcomed over 300 attendees to participate on our inaugural Issue Hub titled “Accelerating What We Know Works in Cancer Screening and Care.”  Read more about that here. A recording of the June Issue Hub is available here.

    A third Issue Hub will be scheduled later this year.

    About the ACS National Consortium

    ACS and ACS CAN have organized mission priorities and program work to effectively respond to consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening and care. The National Consortium, which focuses on accelerating, strengthening, and mobilizing, is one component of this initiative. It is an issue-focused, time-bound partnership that is dedicated to the acceleration of a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to its detrimental impact on our collective progress in cancer screening and care across the U.S. Our overall return to screening effort is supported by Genentech, Pfizer, Merck, and the National Football League.

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