Astellas C3 Prize focuses on challenges of COVID-19 for people with cancer

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This story is part of The Cancer Letter’s ongoing coverage of COVID-19’s impact on oncology. A full list of our coverage is available here.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis is difficult, and even more so during a global pandemic.

For example, hand sanitizer and masks, both essential for immunocompromised individuals, are harder to purchase as going to public places takes on even more increased risk.

Commonplace daily routines, such as mass transit, air travel, grocery shopping and doctor visits have become major barriers for cancer patients, whose concerns about contracting COVID-19 have prevented, complicated and, unfortunately, even delayed cancer treatments for some patients.

And the delays in routine cancer screenings and resulting diagnoses are anticipated to have long-lasting effects.

Throughout my clinical and professional career, I’ve devoted my work to improving the everyday challenges cancer patients and their caregivers face.

As a pediatric oncologist in training, I always tried to put myself in the shoes of the patients’ parents and understand what care I would want for my child.

I brought this passion to my work in pharmaceutical development. Currently, at Astellas, we recognize the complexities of the cancer journey and know that, in addition to medicine, patients need comprehensive care.

Our oncology team is continuously looking to change cancer care by developing new medicines for patients with difficult to treat tumors, from hematologic malignancies to solid tumors.

Beyond this important work, Astellas also seeks ways to improve everyday life for people with cancer. An important program that brings cancer care ideas and concepts to life is the Astellas Oncology C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize.

Seeking ideas with the greatest potential to impact cancer care

Now in its fifth year, the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize is a global competition that seeks to discover the best ideas beyond medicine that can address the unique challenges of the cancer experience for patients, caregivers and their loved ones.

We are proud to continue to fund the most innovative ideas—from any individual or organization—to make every day better for people impacted by cancer.

This year, the C3 Prize is particularly interested in sourcing ideas that address the unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented for people with cancer.

We will award $200,000 to three winners ($100,000 to the Grand Prize winner and $50,000 to two Innovation Prize winners) with the most groundbreaking ideas.

I am inspired by all previous nominees and winners, but as a pediatric oncologist, the Nanny Angel Network, an organization that aims to provide peace of mind, stability and normality for families with cancer through a volunteer corps who provide in-home childcare for moms and dads with cancer, is one that resonates with me in particular.

After Nanny Angel Network won the Grand Prize in 2019, the organization launched a new system to train volunteers online, which is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the grant enabled the organization to offer remote child life specialists, hundreds of meal deliveries, a virtual homework club and “camp in a box.”

These are all unique solutions to the challenges in childcare COVID-19 has presented, and are exactly the type of innovative ideas we hope to see in this year’s applications.

Join the movement

Anyone can join the C3 Prize movement—it is not just for tech and academic applicants or for complex solutions. We’re open to the best ideas that can have great impact and are accepting applications until Sept. 28.

If you, or someone you know has an idea, I encourage you to apply at and make a difference in cancer care.

Senior vice president, oncology therapeutic area head, Astellas Pharma
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Senior vice president, oncology therapeutic area head, Astellas Pharma