Big plans, research and technology: highlights from the World Cancer Series: 2021

November 11, 2021


Big plans, research and technology: highlights from the World Cancer Series: 2021

November 11, 2021

Elizabeth Sukkar

Senior research manager

Elizabeth is a senior research manager in global health in the policy and insights team at Economist Impact. Prior to this, she was the managing editor and global healthcare editorial lead at Economist Intelligence Unit’s Thought Leadership division. She is the lead on global health projects that help build effective action to develop a sustainable health economy, with patients at the centre. She has led major research projects on universal healthcare, climate change and its impact on lung health, health literacy, digital health, cancer care, self-care, sin taxes, health financing and patient-centred care.  She is also the lead on The Economist Group’s World Cancer Initiative which has led to the development of new thinking in cancer care and is a key moderator at the Economist Impact Events’ such as the World Cancer Series, Future of Healthcare and Sustainability Summit. She is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, a fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health, and has two degrees: a bachelor of pharmacy degree from Monash University (Australia) and a Master of Science in International Health Policy from the London School of Economics (LSE). She has been a journalist and editor for more than 15 years, covering healthcare policy, R&D and science for medical journals and UK newspapers, including the British Medical Journal and the Guardian. Before joining The Economist Group, she was the deputy news editor at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, where she ran the news and analysis desk and was often called to comment about healthcare issues on BBC radio. She also managed an international team of journalists when she was the world editor of Informa’s Scrip Intelligence, a global publication on pharmaceutical and healthcare policy, where she won the Informa Journalist of Year award. Before moving into journalism, Elizabeth worked as a pharmacist in community, hospital and health authority settings, and she maintains her pharmacist registration.


Highlights from the World Cancer Series: 2021

Cancer and how we deal with it matters. Europe’s cancer statistics are frightening. Last year, 2.7m people in the EU were diagnosed with cancer and 1.3m people died. We are still learning the full-scale ramifications of the pandemic on cancer diagnosis and treatment. This year, our World Cancer Series: 2021 convened experts to discuss this and other key topics. 

Norman Sharpless heads up the US National Cancer Institute, one of the big funders for cancer research. I asked him what he thinks of Europe’s “Beating Cancer Plan” as we have much to learn from our peers across the pond, we also discussed how the US has been helping small nation states in Europe to build a cancer infrastructure. Ireland and Northern Ireland needed a boost and the NCI gave it. You can hear all about this and the US Cancer Moonshot—a new effort to accelerate progress in cancer research, in this .

Moonshot? What about Europe? Yes, we have something here too. It is called EU Mission Cancer and it has ambitious goals and plans to deliver concrete results by 2030. You can learn all about it in my interview with Christine Chomienne. One of the interesting aspects of this project is how it aims to transform culture and communication around cancer. Here is the .

You can’t talk about cancer without talking about technology and I had the pleasure of interviewing two panels on artificial intelligence and digital health. 

Artificial intelligence seems to be here to stay. Will it really bring a new drug to clinical trials in 12 months time, giving the long and cumbersome traditional drug discovery model a run for its money on cost and efficiency? Listen to the panel discussion in this . I also ask about the wider equity and ethical aspects around capturing people of all backgrounds in research. 

The pandemic accelerated our use of apps, virtual monitoring and telemedicine in an ad hoc way. Do these digital tools really help patients living with cancer, and have we sorted out reimbursement? Some countries in Europe are adopting these digital technologies faster than others. Will they have a permanent place in our healthcare systems? Find out more in the

Finally, publicly funded clinical trials have huge implications for patients, healthcare professionals and society;  they are central in discovering new treatments, improving medical care and guiding policy. Europe hosts thousands of cancer trials each year but the numbers differ by location. With experts including Barbara Kerstiëns, head of combating diseases, DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, I explore the clinical trial ecosystem and its drivers and whether it is working to its best advantage for patients. Watch the , here. 

There are many more videos on the and we hope by bringing experts together, we can contribute to cancer action.


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