While our health-care system has been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has also led to an acceleration of innovations, opening new avenues of care for patients and clinicians in oncology. From expanded access to specialists, to remote monitoring, to better documentation of test results, telemedicine has emerged as an efficient method for providing patient care and advancing health care in these uncertain times.
At the same time, new breakthroughs in understanding the genetic and cellular roots of cancer have also led to an exciting new chapter in precision medicine, a type of treatment that doctors and government officials want to make more widely available to patients.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m. ET, hear from renowned oncologists Jeffrey Drebin, MD, chair of surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Noopur Raje, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, on the innovative new approaches they’ve created at two of the nation’s most acclaimed cancer centers. Actress and author Lisa Ray will also join to share her personal story of being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer at the height of her career and how a then-controversial treatment saved her life. Watch video highlights from the first of this two-part series here.
Jeffrey Drebin, MD
As Chair of the Department of Surgery, I oversee a team that is world-renowned for its innovation and expertise in cancer surgery. In addition to my administrative duties, I am also a surgeon and scientist. I specialize in treating people with pancreatic cancer, gallbladder and bile duct cancers, liver cancer, and stomach cancer.
I knew from a young age I wanted to be a doctor, and losing a number of relatives to cancer gave me a personal stake in finding better ways to treat the disease. But it wasn’t until I was almost finished with medical school, going through my final rotations, that I decided to change paths and become a surgeon. I was inspired by how quickly and substantially surgeons are able to help people.
I came to MSK not only because it is the preeminent cancer institution in the country, but also because it is a place where people are committed to going above and beyond the scope of their work. Everyone here is simultaneously dedicated to caring for patients and advancing our knowledge of this disease.
When I meet patients, they’re often frightened. I find the best way to deal with that is by giving them accurate information. While I am always honest, I lean on the side of hopeful: I have treated many people with very bad cancers who are alive and well years later. This is an exciting time to be in the field because I believe the areas of immunotherapy, which harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer, and targeted therapy, which directly attacks the altered biochemical pathways in cancer cells, hold great potential for pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers. MSK has a number of clinical trials that are looking at how we can add immunotherapy and targeted therapies to conventional treatments so that, in essence, we’re giving people tomorrow’s treatments today. We are also looking at ways to improve early detection methods.
When I’m not working, I like to spend time with my family, ski, and read. While I am always honest, I lean on the side of hopeful: I have treated many people with very bad cancers who are alive and well years later.
Noopur Raje, MD
Noopur Raje received her medical degree from B.J. Medical College, Pune University, India. She has trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and has completed a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. Dr. Raje has a joint faculty appointment at MGH and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Raje’s primary focus is in multiple myeloma and related research. Her laboratory focuses on bone biology and the development of novel therapeutics for multiple myeloma, as well as identifying and validating novel targets and translating them into clinical trials.
Born of a Bengali father and Polish mother in Toronto, Lisa Ray has had an acclaimed, expansive and serendipitous career in the entertainment arts beginning in India in 1991 and spanning multiple countries and film (Oscar nominated Water) television (Top Chef Canada) and modeling (video for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Afreen Afreen’) Her entrepreneurial activities include starting her own yoga studio and a line of ethical perfume. When diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in 2009, she choose to publicly share her experiences in a blog called ‘The Yellow Diaries’ which led to her first book. A lifelong activist, she has become a high profile advocate for Cancer Awareness and Wellness through public talks and writing. Her poetry explores themes derived from an identity-bending, nomadic experiences, the culmination of a life of no fixed address. Lisa’s upcoming acting releases include A.R. Rahman’s first production, ’99 Songs’ to premiere at the Busan Film Festival in October 2019 and season two of an original Amazon series, ‘4 Shots More Please’. Lisa recently announced the birth of her twin daughters via surrogacy as a way to normalize fertility options and choices for others. Her memoir, Close to the Bone, was published to acclaim in May 2019 in India and she subsequently signed a three book deal with her publisher, Harper Collins India.
Content from AstraZeneca
A New Era In Cancer Care – A Community Approach
The emergence of the novel coronavirus has presented huge challenges for people living with cancer and the health-care workers who care for them. That’s why healthcare providers are looking to come together to address key challenges and solutions and learn from the impacts of COVID-19. During this session, we’ll hear from patients, advocates and medical experts about the impact of the novel coronavirus on cancer treatment and how innovative digital solutions may be able to help. Guests will also talk about barriers to access when it comes to critical care needs and how doctors are trying to address disparities, broaden health equities, and continue to advance oncology during this urgent era in medicine. Watch video highlights from the first session, Redefining Cancer – Improving Care Through Innovation, here.
Ellen Miller-Sonet, MBA, JD, Chief Strategy and Policy Officer, CancerCare
Ellen Miller-Sonet leads the strategic initiatives and national policy agenda for CancerCare, the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. She was the principal architect and author of the landmark 2016 CancerCare Patient Access and Engagement report, which reflects the survey responses of more than 3000 unique people diagnosed with cancer. It laid the groundwork for understanding the true ‘costs’ – physical, emotional, financial – of the cancer experience for patients and families nationwide. She is currently leading CancerCare’s Patient Values Initiative which builds on this report and is a multi-pronged, long-term project intended to reframe the national healthcare policy dialogue to include what is important to patients and their families, and to make sure that patients’ values and priorities are incorporated into treatment decision making. She is a steering committee member of Avalere’s Patient Perspective Value Framework initiative, and the National Minority Quality Forum’s Sustainable Healthy Communities Diverse Cancer Communities Working Group. Prior to CancerCare, Ms. Sonet served for nearly 17 years as Vice President of Marketing at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She was an avid patient advocate devoted to understanding the complex nature of health care decision-making and the needs of people affected by cancer. Ms. Sonet has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University, and an MBA and JD from Boston University.
Debra Patt, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President, Policy, Strategic Initiatives at Texas Oncology
Dr. Debra Patt is a practicing oncologist and breast cancer specialist in Austin, Texas, and an executive vice president of Texas Oncology with responsibilities in healthcare policy and strategic initiatives. She is an active leader in breast cancer research, serves on the US Oncology Research breast cancer committee, and chairs the breast cancer subsection of the pathways task force for The US Oncology Network as well as the leader locally for breast cancer research. She has expertise in healthcare policy and has testified before Congress to protect access to care for Medicare beneficiaries. She is a leader in clinical cancer informatics, and is involved in system innovations to enhance care delivery across a national network of oncology practices. She is the Editor In Chief of the Journal of Clinical Oncology- Clinical Cancer Informatics, and leads informatics initiatives in imaging informatics for breast cancer, clinical decision support systems, predictive analytics to reduce risk in patients with advanced cancer, telemedicine, and quality improvement. She led healthcare informatics for The US Oncology Network from 2008-2015 and continues to lead analytics as a medical director for McKesson Specialty Health. In addition to a substantial background in informatics and health economics and outcomes research, she directs public policy for Texas Oncology. Nationally, she is the past-chair of ASCO’s clinical practice committee and served on ASCO’s nominating committee for the ASCO Board and the Conquer Cancer Foundation as well as the health IT work group, EHR, technology, and data requirements workgroup, and guidelines committees.
Interviewed by Chatrick Paul, Senior Vice President, Head of U.S. Oncology at AstraZeneca
Chatrick Paul, Head of Oncology Business Unit (OBU), US. Chatrick joins the OBU Leadership Team and the US Leadership Team, and will relocate to our Gaithersburg, Maryland hub. He brings over twenty years of diverse and progressive pharmaceutical experience to AstraZeneca, bridging strategy and execution roles at global, regional and country levels across multiple therapeutic areas and geographies. Chatrick has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Panjab University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.