Chasing Cancer: Boston
The good news: Cancer mortality rates in the United States have dropped steadily for the last 25 years. It’s a testament to extraordinary progress in revolutionary oncological research and medical treatments. But major challenges persist for the pioneers who aim to eradicate the disease.
On Sept. 4, The Washington Post brought together leading oncologists, innovative researchers and patients for a live event in Boston examining the latest developments in cancer treatment, prevention and detection. Topics included the targeted use of precision medicine, the promise of genome editing and the significant power of technology in detecting and preventing cancer.
Boston Strong
Once there is a cancer diagnosis, the challenges that follow can be overwhelming and life-altering. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Red Sox President and CEO Emeritus Larry Lucchino share their personal stories of surviving cancer.
When he was just 7 years old, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. “All you know is you’re a 7-year-old kid and you want to do what other 7-year-old kids do,” Walsh said, reflecting on his journey.
  • Sep 4
Boston Red Sox President and CEO Emeritus Larry Lucchino was in his late 30s when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He says the experience was “profound” and changed his perspective on friendship.
  • Sep 4
When asked whether he thinks the Red Soxs will make the playoffs, President and CEO Emeritus Larry Lucchino said he doesn’t think it’s likely, but he added that ‘playing meaningful games in September is a real compliment to the players and the organization.’
  • Sep 4
Full Segment
Once there is a cancer diagnosis, the challenges that follow can be overwhelming and life-altering. Boston icons Mayor Marty Walsh and Larry Lucchino share their personal stories of surviving cancer. They recount their journeys of hope, faith, and resilience and discuss how cancer has shaped the trajectory of their lives.
  • Sep 5
Martin Walsh
Mayor, City of Boston
Martin J. Walsh, a lifelong champion of working people and a proud product of the City of Boston, is the City’s 54th mayor. Mayor Walsh was sworn in to serve a second term on January 1, 2018. Born and raised in the neighborhood of Dorchester by immigrant parents, Mayor Walsh is driven to make sure Boston is a City where anyone can overcome their challenges and fulfill their dreams. As a child, Mayor Walsh survived a serious bout of Burkitt lymphoma, thanks to the extraordinary care he received at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Mayor Walsh continues to reside in Dorchester, where he shares his life with longtime partner Lorrie Higgins.
Larry Lucchino
President and CEO Emeritus of the Boston Red Sox
Red Sox Hall of Famer Larry Lucchino served as President/CEO during an historic 14-year period through 2015, in which the club won three World Series, saved and enhanced Fenway Park, established the Major League Baseball record for consecutive sellouts, and created the Red Sox Foundation, a philanthropic powerhouse. Now also Chairman of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Lucchino and the late Jim Skeffington assembled a group that in 2015 purchased Boston's longtime Triple-A affiliate. He is also Chairman of the Jimmy Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which twice helped to save his life.
Interviewed by Paige Winfield Cunningham
Health Policy Reporter and Author of The Health 202 newsletter, The Washington Post
Coding Cancer
Innovative technologies are shaping the future of oncology. In this segment, we hear from science and medical experts on how technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and genome editing are being used to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Guardant Health is developing a liquid biopsy, or blood test, for the early detection of cancer, an advancement COO AmirAli Talasaz says “is not that far away” from being a reality.
  • Sep 4
Guardant Health COO AmirAli Talasaz, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute CIO Lesley Solomon and PathAI CEO Dr. Andrew Beck share what they believe is ‘the next big thing’ in cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
  • Sep 4
Full Segment
Innovative technologies are shaping the future of oncology. We’ll hear from science and medical experts on how technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and genome editing are being used to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
  • Sep 5
AmirAli Talasaz, PhD
President and Co-Founder, Guardant Health
Dr. AmirAli Talasaz is the President of Guardant Health, and an entrepreneur in the rare genomics and clinical diagnostics fields. Prior to co-founding Guardant, he was Senior Director of Diagnostics Research at Illumina and led the efforts for emerging clinical applications of next-generation genomic analysis. During that time, he developed different genomic technologies suitable for clinical applications. Before Illumina, he founded Auriphex Biosciences, which focused on purification and genetic analysis of circulating tumor cells for cancer management. The technology was acquired by Illumina in 2009. During his academic years, he led the Technology Development group at Stanford Genome Technology Center. AmirAli received his PhD in electrical engineering and MSc in management science from Stanford University.
Lesley Solomon
Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Lesley Solomon became Dana-Farber’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer in 2017. She has served as the founding executive director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital's Innovation Hub, and as director of strategy and innovation in the Brigham Research Institute. Solomon has more than 20 years of experience as an executive working in business development, strategy, and marketing at startups, early-stage, and large companies such as the Food Network, Barnes & Noble.com, and Yoga Works. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and has a BA in English from Cornell University. She is a co-founder of the Food Allergy Science Initiative at The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, which brings together experts across disciplines to unlock the biology of food allergy and change the field to develop new treatments and more.
Andrew H. Beck, MD PhD
Co-Founder and CEO, PathAI
Andrew Beck earned his MD from Brown Medical School and completed residency and fellowship training in Anatomic Pathology and Molecular Genetic Pathology from Stanford University. He completed a PhD in Biomedical Informatics from Stanford University, where he developed one of the first machine-learning based systems for cancer pathology. He's been certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic Pathology and Molecular Genetic Pathology. Prior to co-founding PathAI, he was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has published over 110 papers in the fields of cancer biology, cancer pathology, and biomedical informatics.
Moderated by Frances Sellers
Senior Writer, The Washington Post
Controlling Cancer Pain
Pain is experienced by 55% of patients undergoing treatment for cancer and managing that pain can be hard for doctors and patients. In this segment, speakers discuss the latest advances in pain science, examine new and innovative pain therapies and assess whether medical professionals are receiving adequate training in this area of medicine.
Doctors have come under a lot of scrutiny for the way they prescribe opioids. Dr. Mihir Kamdar and Dr. Robert Jason Yong say it’s imperative doctors weigh the risks and benefits of prescribing opioids.
  • Sep 4
Several states now allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids. Dr. Mihir Kamdar and Dr. Robert Jason Yong, two chronic pain experts, share their thoughts on whether this is an effective option.
  • Sep 4
Full Segment
Pain is experienced by 55% of patients undergoing treatment for cancer and managing that pain can be hard for doctors and patients. In this segment, speakers discuss the latest advances in pain science, examine new and innovative pain therapies and assess whether medical professionals are receiving adequate training in this area of medicine.
  • Sep 5
Mihir M. Kamdar, MD
Associate Director, Division of Palliative Care, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Mihir Kamdar graduated from Emory University School of Medicine, and completed his residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. After residency, Mihir completed the Harvard Palliative Medicine fellowship, followed by a second fellowship in Interventional Pain at the MGH Department of Anesthesia's Center for Pain. Trained in both palliative care and interventional pain techniques, he will Co-Direct the MGH Cancer Pain Clinic with a focus is on minimally invasive pain interventions, such as neurolytic blockade and neuraxial drug delivery, for palliative care patients with refractory cancer pain.
Robert Jason Yong, MD
Medical Director, Pain Management Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Dr. Yong serves as the Medical Director in the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he received recognition as the Distinguished Resident of the Year and was selected as a Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) Practice Management Scholar. Dr. Yong then joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine as an Assistant Professor. While at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, Dr. Yong has published on opioid management, regenerative medicine, cancer pain, neuromodulation, and practice efficiency. His clinical interests include cancer pain, minimally invasive surgical techniques, and neuromodulation therapy.
Moderated by Paige Winfield Cunningham
Health Policy Reporter and Author of The Health 202 newsletter, The Washington Post
The Power of Precision Medicine
While treatment plans depend on the type of cancer, researchers and doctors are working on new targeted therapies for patients, including precision medicine and innovative genetic immunotherapies. In this segment, leading doctors and researchers will discuss groundbreaking, personalized medical treatments they hope will cure cancer.
Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dr. Dejan Juric says more people need to participate in clinical trials to help researchers make more advancements in precision medicine.
  • Sep 4
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Dr. Katherine Janeway said she personally benefitted from precision medicine when she was diagnosed with cancer. She says we need to continue to make progress in the field to make sure more people benefit from this sort of treatment.
  • Sep 4
Full Segment
While treatment plans depend on the type of cancer, researchers and doctors are working on new targeted therapies for patients, including precision medicine and innovative genetic immunotherapies. In this segment, leading doctors and researchers will discuss groundbreaking, personalized medical treatments they hope will cure cancer.
  • Sep 5
Katherine Janeway, MD
Director of Clinical Genomics, Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Katherine A. Janeway currently serves as the director of Clinical Genomics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a senior physician in the Solid Tumor Program of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and an associate professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Janeway’s research focuses on genomics of pediatric malignancies, including expanding the benefits of precision oncology to children with these cancers and a poor prognosis through basket trials. Additionally, Janeway conducts clinical trials of new therapies for pediatric sarcomas. Her prior work has defined the genomic underpinnings of osteosarcoma and GIST, established that a multi-institutional clinical sequencing study is feasible and demonstrated that a significant proportion of children with difficult to treat solid tumors have genomic results with potential for clinical benefit.
Andrew Kung, MD, PhD
Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at MSK Kids, Memorial Sloan Kettering
Andrew Kung is a physician-scientist and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at MSK Kids, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s pediatric program, which treats more children and young adults with cancer than any other hospital in the United States. He oversees the clinical, research, and educational missions of the department. Among his many roles, Dr. Kung is first and foremost a compassionate doctor, whose main focus and motivation is the care and well-being of MSK’s youngest patients. He oversees the innovative treatments that MSK Kids offers all patients — some of which are not available elsewhere — to give them the best chance at living a long, healthy life after cancer.
Dr. Dejan Juric
Physician-Scientist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Dejan Juric is a physician-scientist involved in early drug development of targeted cancer therapeutics in metastatic breast cancer and other advanced solid malignancies. He is primarily focused on first-in-human studies of isoform selective PI3K inhibitors in genetically predefined patient populations. With collaborators, he has conducted a series of clinical trials with alpelisib, resulting in FDA approval of this agent in PIK3CA-mutated ER+ metastatic breast cancer. He is also interested in the identification of genetic alterations and cell signaling networks which confer resistance or modulate the action of anti-HER2 agents and selective PI3K-alpha inhibitors in established cell lines and patient-derived tumor models. Dr. Juric aims toward developing new combinatorial treatment strategies for patients with advanced cancers driven by HER2 amplifications and/or PI3K-pathway alterations.
Moderated by Frances Sellers
Senior Writer, The Washington Post
Content from Amgen Oncology: Accelerating Discovery
The field of Oncology is advancing at a record pace to help find innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer. One of the challenges of bringing new therapies to patients quickly can be the time it takes to conduct safe and effective clinical trials.
Content from Amgen Oncology: Accelerating Discovery
The field of Oncology is advancing at a record pace to help find innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer. One of the challenges of bringing new therapies to patients quickly can be the time it takes to conduct safe and effective clinical trials.
  • Sep 5
Donna Cryer, JD
President and CEO Global Liver Institute and Interim Executive Director of People-Centered Research Foundation
Donna R. Cryer, JD, has channeled her personal experience as an IBD and liver transplant patient into professional advocacy as founder of CryerHealth, LLC consulting firm on patient-industry partnerships; the Global Liver Institute, a patient-driven advocacy non-profit operating in the US and Europe; and now as Interim Executive Director of the People-Centered Research Foundation, the Central Office for PCORnet. Mrs. Cryer serves on the Executive Committees for the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) and the People-Centered Research Foundation, the Board of Trustees of Sibley Memorial Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Executive Advisory Board for Tivity Health (NASDAQ: TVTY).
Erin Miller
Development Manager, Lazarex Cancer Foundation
In May 2003, Erin Miller’s husband Mike Miller was diagnosed with stage IV, non-resectable pancreatic cancer. It was the difficult and painful journey to save Mike’s life that led them to a search for a clinical trial while undergoing traditional cancer therapy. Mike’s participation in the clinical trial resulted in 19 months of life instead of the prognosis of five months. Mike Miller is the inspiration behind Lazarex Cancer Foundation. Erin’s involvement with Lazarex Cancer Foundation as a board member, advisor and volunteer has been a blessing to her and her family as a way to help people whose lives have been ravaged by cancer. In 2017 Erin officially joined the Lazarex team. As the Development Manager and IMPACT Program Liaison she will use her experiences and passion to improve patient access to cancer clinical trials and is honored to be part of a movement that will sustainably transform the clinical trial recruitment process.
Karim Iskander
Executive Medical Director, Amgen Global Medical Affairs
Karim Iskander is the Executive Medical Director and Platform lead for Leukemia and Lymphoma at AMGEN. Iskander oversees US and Global medical affairs activities related to Blincyto and several Amgen pipeline molecules in development. Iskander has more than 15 years Oncology experience, and 10 years industry experience. Iskander obtained his Pharmacy degree from Alexandria University (Egypt). He practiced oncology pharmacy at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He obtained his PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, where he published several cancer research publications in reputable peer-reviewed journals.
Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH
Chief, Division of Population Sciences, Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, FASCO is Chief of the Division of Population Sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She is also an attending physician in the Gastrointestinal Oncology Center and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on evaluating and improving the quality and effectiveness of cancer care delivery. She is co-leader of the Dana Farber Harvard Program in Cancer Care Delivery Research, the PI of several large multi-center pragmatic clinical trials and leads efforts to improve phenomic information for use with “real world data.” She has expertise in measuring the effectiveness of cancer treatments using administrative data, EHR data and the construction of novel data linkages and data sets to evaluate treatment outcomes outside the clinical trial context.
Moderated by Allison DeAngelis
Life Sciences Reporter at the Boston Business Journal
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