New cancer treatments may be on the horizon thanks to the mRNA vaccines widely used to combat COVID-19. These new breakthroughs, coupled with advances in surgical techniques and targeted, individualized treatments, could define a new era of cancer care focused on precision medicine.

Pioneering oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee and Tempus CEO Eric Lefkofsky join Washington Post Live to talk about the latest developments in precision medicine and the promise for the future of cancer treatment. Watch live on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 9:00 a.m. ET.


“I would not be surprised at all if in 30 or 40 or 50 years from now, we don’t lose 600,000 people a year to cancer, we lose 60,000. And when you talk about a 90 percent reduction in mortality rate, cancer will feel like a rare disorder.” (Washington Post Live)
“COVID’s a really good example of… the kind of problems Tempus is attempting to solve–connecting vast amounts of data in real time, building the pipes that allow us to bring data… into a place like Tempus, structure it, harmonize it, make sense of it and…then be able to put it back into the healthcare system where it’s so needed. That core platform and architecture that we built in cancer–that didn’t exist in COVID– is I think one of the reasons I think we had such a difficult time at the start of the pandemic getting control of what was going on.” (Washington Post Live)
“There’s another kind of vaccine which is when you have a disease and you incite the immune system against the cancer and it acts as a kind of preventative for the spread or growth of cancer. That’s a therapeutic vaccine, and there I see an enormous amount of potential in these mRNA because we can make them quickly, we can make them safely, we know they induce a strong immune response. But… that will depend on our capacity to find unique things about the cancer. (Washington Post Live)
“The mRNA vaccines allow us to find a completely new way of inciting or exciting the immune system against cancer.” (Washington Post Live)
“I’m particularly interested in prevention precision therapeutics. So in other words, can we use all the various mechanisms that we have no–scans, blood tests, etc. etc.– to prevent cancers in their earliest stages… It’s almost always the case that in advanced cancers, we’ve been not so lucky in doing the kind of precision medicine that we had hoped to do, but in early cancers we really get a lot of effect.” (Washington Post Live)

Eric Lefkofsky

Provided by Tempus.

Eric Lefkofsky is the founder and CEO at Tempus, a leading provider of technology enabled precision medicine solutions. He is a founding partner of Lightbank, a venture fund investing in disruptive technology businesses. He is also the co-founder and Chairman of Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN), a global e-commerce marketplace, and co-founder of Mediaocean, a leading provider of integrated media procurement technology; Echo Global Logistics (NASDAQ: ECHO), a technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm; and InnerWorkings (NASDAQ: INWK), a global provider of managed print and promotional solutions.

He co-chairs the Lefkofsky Family Foundation with his wife Liz to advance high-impact initiatives that enhance lives in the communities served. Lefkofsky serves as a Trustee of Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, and World Business Chicago. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Lefkofsky is an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago and author of Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation. He graduated from the University of Michigan and received his Juris Doctor at University of Michigan Law School.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD

Provided by Columbia University.

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a pioneering physician, oncologist, and author who has redefined our public discourse on human health, medicine and science. A profoundly influential voice in the scientific community, he is best known for his books, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which earned him the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, and The Gene: An Intimate History which won international awards and was recognized by The Washington Post and The New York Times as one of the most influential books of 2016. His published works exhibit an outstanding literary skill that has left an indelible mark on our culture, as The Emperor of All Maladies has been adapted into a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns, and was included among Time magazine’s 100 best nonfiction books of the past century. Dr. Mukherjee’s achievements as a writer and educator build upon his career as a renowned medical scholar. His groundbreaking studies into the composition and behavior of cancer cells have pushed the boundaries of modern medicine. His innovative research signals a paradigm shift in cancer pathology, and has enabled the development of treatments that reach beyond current pharmaceutical models toward new biological and cellular therapies.

Content from Johns Hopkins Medicine

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

(Washington Post Live)

Akila Viswanathan, MD, MPH, MSc

Provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Akila Viswanathan, M.D., M.P.H., is the director for Johns Hopkins Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, and a professor of radiation oncology, gynecology/obstetrics and oncology for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Viswanathan leads the department emphasizing excellence in clinical care, research and education. She has expertise with gynecologic cancers and their treatment, including cervical and uterine cancers and image-guided brachytherapy. She has developed numerous clinical innovations and initiated several system-wide integration efforts at all sites, including Green Spring Station, Bayview, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Suburban's Rockledge site, and Sibley Memorial Hospital for the Johns Hopkins Department of Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Viswanathan earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard-Radcliffe College, her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, followed by her Masters in Public Health and Masters in Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed a residency in radiation oncology at the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy at Harvard Medical School, where she served as chief resident.

She has had research grant funding through the National Cancer Institute K07, R21 and R01 programs to support efforts in gynecologic cancers, specifically looking at the identification of gynecologic tumors at the time of brachytherapy under magnetic resonance imaging. The research team has developed several novel clinical innovations.

Dr. Viswanathan has been named one of America's Top Doctors by Newsweek, Who’s who in America, and a Super Doctor by the Washington Post magazine.

Dr. Viswanathan served as President and Chair of the Board of the American Brachytherapy Society; Chair of Education Committee for American Society for Radiation Oncology; and, on the Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee and the uterine cancer task force for the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Akila Viswanathan has published more than 200 articles and chapters, and lectures nationally and internationally. She is the Editor-in-Chief for Seminars in Radiation Oncology. She is on the editorial board of Gynecologic Oncology and Brachytherapy, and is an editor of two textbooks including Gynecologic Radiation Therapy: Novel Approaches to Image-Guidance and Management, and Radiation Therapy Techniques for Gynecologic Cancers.

Moderated by Jeanne Meserve

Jeanne Meserve is a homeland security expert and analyst, moderator, and award-winning journalist. She is currently a Security Expert for Canada’s CTV News and co-host of the SpyTalk podcast. While a correspondent and anchor at CNN and ABC Jeanne earned her profession’s highest honors, including two Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She also contributed to two CNN Peabody Awards. Jeanne is a member of the Homeland Security Experts Group and the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, and serves on the board of the non-profit Space Foundation. She moderates discussions on topics ranging from technology and security, to medicine and the environment. Her clients include AtlanticLIVE, Washington Post Live, the Munich Security Conference, the Halifax International Security Forum, and the global conferences of the International Women’s Forum. At CNN Meserve created the homeland security beat, covering intelligence, law enforcement, cyber, aviation, border and port security. She anchored worldwide coverage of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination and the death of Princess Diana, and was the first to report on the devastating flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was a key member of the CNN political team during the 1996 and 2000 elections. While at ABC News she covered the State Department and reported from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.