Scholar Retreat

Mentors

Carl D.
Novina
,
MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Forum Description

The Scholar Retreat held annually, invites scholars and mentors to attend a 3-day meeting. This meeting focuses on bringing junior scientists together from various areas of cancer research. The collaborations and innovative ideas that come from this meeting have been numerous and outstanding. The mentors provide great guidance regarding science and career for these junior scientists. At the Retreat, the Scholars share their research with the other Scholars and Mentors. Each Scholar will participate in four sequential retreats, with all expenses paid by WGFRF. The opportunity for Scholars to connect and form relationships with researchers from completely different areas of cancer research and to have a sort of peer review is one of the most valuable roles of the Retreat. Through the Mentors, the Retreat offers Scholars guidance on practical career issues such as writing grants and preparing successful scientific publications. Each year, the Scholar Retreat coincides with the Foundation’s annual ‘Blue Jean Ball’ fundraiser. All Scholars attend this event, providing them an opportunity to meet with families whose lives have been directly affected by cancer. This experience resonates particularly with scientists who, unlike clinicians, do not have contact with patients, by putting a human face on cancer.

Forum Summary

The meeting began on Thursday evening with cocktails and dinner followed by a keynote ad- dress by Keith Yamamoto (UCSF, San Francisco) which provided an expansive view of science, science practice, and science policy. Keith made seminal discoveries in steroid hormone receptor-induced transcription and has been honored with numerous awards including membership in the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine. He is also Dean and Vice Chancellor at UCSF Medical School, an Obama Advisor and consultant to the NIH. Keith drew from these experiences to describe how science is changing to integrate biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, and public health. He presented a changing science practice in which each of these areas are not discrete disciplines, but rather is simultaneously incorporated into the discovery and educational processes. Keith then provided an example of an integrated approach to biological discovery. Joe DeRisi’s lab at UCSF Medical School developed a miniaturized microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip” to sequence samples from an outbreak of respiratory infections which led to the identification and molecular characterization of the SARS virus in affected populations. Notably, the curriculum at UCSF Medical School has been re-vamped to teach new investigators integrated science to prepare the next generation of leaders for scientific discovery. This keynote address provided insights into the current practice of science, provided a glimpse of a new way of teaching and doing science and set the tone for a meeting filled with exciting discussions.

The scientific sessions on Friday focused on brain tumors and cancer genomics. Many cancers demonstrate a phenomenon called “oncogene addiction” which may be targeted for therapy. Clark Chen (UCSD Medical Center, San Diego) described an interesting phenomenon of “non-oncogene addiction” in glioblastoma which may be revealed in model systems when cells are subjected to stress. Understanding non-oncogene addiction may have value in clarifying the biology of glioblastoma and possibly can be exploited for therapy. Oren Brecher (Duke University, Durham) described the molecular pathogenesis of pediatric glioma which is a brainstem cancer. Oren listed many of the usually suspected genes that are mutated in this cancer. However, some unusual suspects also appeared including 20% of cases with mutations in BMP (bone morphogenic protein) receptor. Similarly, Sharon Diskin (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) examined the genetics of neuroblastoma and found genetic variants associated with susceptibility and treatment response. For example, some neuroblastomas have a loss of part of one chromosome (16p11.2) which increases their risk for developing the disease. Others contain variation in a gene that normally protects cells from oxidative damage (perioxiredoxin), and these cancers might be particularly susceptible to chemotherapies that generate reactive oxygen species. These examples show that studying the underlying genetics of cancers is critically important not only to discover suspects in cancers but also to discover an Achilles heal for treatment of particular cancers.

The scientific sessions on Saturday focused on epigenetics and tumor metabolism. Epigenetics are the chemical marks to the DNA and the proteins that bind to DNA. These chemical marks determine which genes are turned on or turned off in particular cells. We previously saw that that mutating critical genes can cause cancer. Epigenetics has shown us that changing the expression pattern of normal genes – too much or too little of an unmutated gene or expression of a normal gene in the wrong place or at the wrong time—can also play critical roles in cancer formation. Gary Hon (UCSD; San Diego) described how the loss of certain activities (Tet2) that remove inhibitory marks on DNA (methylation) can promote leukemias. He and Alvaro Rada-Iglesias (Stanford University Medical Center) provided examples of how alterations of enhancers (regions of the DNA which determine which genes are turned on or turned off) can also play important roles in human diseases. Kathryn Wellen (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) described how glucose can promote activation of genes by putting a chemical mark (acetylation) on the proteins that bind DNA. Activating genes in this way can be sustained during nutrient stress which may be observed in cancers. Julie-Aurore described how a normal enzyme in our cells called (isocitrate dehydrogenase) can generate an unusual intermediate in cancers (R-2-hydroxyglutarate) called an “onocometabolite”. This oncometabolite can inhibit Tet2 which allows methylation and repression of tumor suppressor genes. These lessons teach us how cancers can hijack normal function of epigenetics and metabolism to make cells grow out of control.

This short summary of highlights from the recent Forbeck Retreat does not convey the excitement of the scientific talks and depth of interactions that occur at a typical retreat. The Scholar Retreat format focuses discourse on organizing concepts. The lively and intense interplay between speakers and audience during the scientific sessions leads to specific and constructive comments that have tactical and strategic impact on Scholars’ research directions. These interactions provide insights that cross disciplines and that might not occur as readily in traditional meetings focused around one scientific theme. Additionally, Scholars and Mentors have many opportunities to talk at relaxed social events. The scenic views of Lake Geneva during hikes and meals also facilitate conversation and accentuate the relaxed atmosphere of the Retreat. Finally, this will be the last time the Forbeck Scholar Retreat will be held at George Williams College of Aurora University. While we will miss the hospitality and beautiful views from George Williams College and its proximity to Yerkes Observatory, we look forward to a new venues and new perspectives around Lake Geneva.

Venue & Travel Information

Geneva National Resort

1221 Geneva National Avenue, South

Lake Geneva, WI 53147

262-245-7000

Travel Forms

Travel forms are due 30 days prior to the start of the meeting to allow enough time to plan transportation.

Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) is the preferred airport as it is only 45 minutes from the meeting location.

  • Arrivals - Thursday around 1 PM, 3 PM and 5 PM
  • Departures - Sunday around 10 AM and 12 PM

Chicago's O'Hare Airport (ORD) is 1 1/2 hours from the meeting location without traffic. The Foundation tries to prioritize International Flights and situations where flying into ORD is significantly cheaper than connecting to MKE. The times below are for guidance only, and depending on the volume of travelers, we may add an additional shuttle to and from the airport.

  • Arrivals - Thursday around 3 PM
  • Departures - Sunday around 10 AM
TRAVEL FORMS DUE:
August 12, 2013
submit travel form

Travel Policy

Please familiarize yourself with our policies and procedures for travel. We truly appreciate you taking the time to participate in this meeting. As you make your plans, please remember that we are a nonprofit organization dependent on donations and volunteers. We do NOT pay for upgrades, change fees, incurred costs resulting from a flight change, transportation to or from your local (home side) airport, meals or other incidentals.

  • Travel Confirmation will be sent out within 1 week of the meeting. This will include a hotel confirmation number, if there is one, and airport transfer details. We have to wait until we receive almost everyone’s travel to book airport transfer. Due to frequent airline changes, we wait until the week of the meeting to send this out.
  • Airport transfer is provided by Foundation staff, volunteers or arranged shuttle at specific times. If you opt to utilize Foundation airport transportation on your travel form, please be patient in receiving this information. We will send it to the week of the meeting.
  • Speaker agenda is not sent out prior to the meeting. It will be provided upon arrival in the meeting packet. We do not tell people when they are speaking because we expect everyone to attend all sessions. Sessions are all day Friday and Saturday.
  • REMINDER: We do not reimburse for home side airport transfer or incidentals while traveling. We will not honor miscellaneous receipts sent for these expenses.
  • Spouses are welcome to come with you at their own cost but are not allowed to attend the meeting. Please no children.

What the Foundation Pays

Accommodations and meals are provided by the foundation during the meeting. Airfare will be covered only if booked through our travel agent. The Foundation will also cover airport transportation on the meeting side at the designated shuttle times. You can select not to utilize Foundation arranged transportation at your own expense when completing the travel form. Once your travel form is received your accommodations and airport transfer will be confirmed. Please let us know of any food allergies or other information we should be aware of on the travel forms.

  • If you would like your airfare covered by the Foundation, you must book with our travel agent. Note we do not cover upgrades, changes, late bookings, etc.
  • Flights must be booked at least 30 days prior to the meeting to confirm your accommodations and airport transfer.
  • As a nonprofit we utilize volunteers and other methods to maximize our efforts (or our donor support) when making accommodations and arranging ground transportation. Ground transportation will be provided upon your arrival either by a foundation volunteer or arranged shuttle. You will be provided airport transportation information the week of the meeting. We do not reimburse for home side airport transfer or incidentals while traveling.

Abstracts

Abstracts are due 30 days prior to the start of the meeting to allow enough time to prepare the meeting book.

The abstracts should be only one or two paragraphs outlining the theme of your presentation and should reflect the objective and spirit of the meeting (see above). Abstracts will be circulated about one week before the meeting. The meeting organizer will start requesting them a month before the meeting.

abstracts DUE:
August 12, 2013
submit abstract

Meeting Structure

The meeting structure has been developed over years of experience.

  • Participants have approximately 45 minutes, depending on the number of participants, for their presentation and discussion. The presentation is meant as a conversation start and should last about twenty minutes briefly covering background information and areas that are new or need further input. This should be structured in such a way as to lead to a lively discussion. Participants are encouraged to interrupt to ask questions or start discussions.
  • A MAXIMUM of 5 slide equivalents per presentation is allowed (Power point slides should not contain more than one graph or gel per slide and no more than 5 bullet points to stress the points being made by the presenter.) We appreciate cooperation with the spirit of this guideline. Handouts are welcome but should be distributed before sessions.
  • Everyone is expected to actively participate in every session and discussions.
  • The time spent at the meeting is relatively short, so please be familiar with papers received prior to the meeting.
  • It is very important that you commit to all sessions of the 2 days of meetings.

Forbeck Scholars Participation

Scholars are selected for each Forbeck Forum. These are outstanding junior clinical or post-doctoral fellows selected based on the quality and relevance of science.

  • Scholars present for 30-45 minutes, depending on the number of participants
  • The same presentation rules apply for scholars
  • After the Forum you are selected to attend, you will attend three years of Scholar Retreats held in Lake Geneva, WI. If you attend a Fall Forum, you will attend the Spring Retreat. If you attend a Spring Forum you will attend a Fall Retreat.
  • Scholars are selected by the Foundation Scientific Advisory Board and peer reviewers selected from past Forbeck Scholars.

General Program

The outline below illustrates a typical program schedule. You will receive a complete schedule, including speaking times, the Thursday the meeting starts.

Arrival Day
1:00 PM Arrivals
6:00 PM Cocktails (opt'l)
7:00 PM Dinner
Meeting Day 1
7:00 AM Breakfast
8:00 AM Scientific Sessions
12:00 PM Lunch
1:30 PM Scientific Sessions
6:00 PM Cocktails & Dinner
Meeting Day 2
7:00 AM Breakfast
8:00 AM Scientific Sessions
12:00 PM Lunch
1:30 PM Scientific Sessions
6:00 PM Cocktails & Dinner
Departure Day
7:00 AM Breakfast
8:00 AM Departures

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our most Frequently Asked Questions. If you have something new to ask, please feel free to contact us.

  • Travel Confirmation will be sent out within 1 week of the meeting. This will include a hotel confirmation number, if there is one, and airport transfer details. We have to wait until we receive almost everyone’s travel to book airport transfer. Due to frequent airline changes, we wait until the week of the meeting to send this out.
  • Airport transfer is provided by Foundation staff, volunteers or arranged shuttle at specific times. If you opt to utilize Foundation airport transportation on your travel form, please be patient in receiving this information. We will send it to the week of the meeting.
  • Speaker agenda is not sent out prior to the meeting. It will be provided upon arrival in the meeting packet. We do not tell people when they are speaking because we expect everyone to attend all sessions. Sessions are all day Friday and Saturday.
  • Frequently airport transfer is provided by volunteers. Please be patient on receiving this information. Airport transfer will be sent out prior to arrival.
  • REMINDER: We do not reimburse for home side airport transfer or incidentals while traveling. We will not honor miscellaneous receipts sent for these expenses.

Forum Participants

Scott
Armstrong
,
MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Christopher
Kemp
,
PhD
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Carl D.
Novina
,
MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Barry
Polisky
,
PhD
"Marina Biotech, Inc."
Jonathan E.
Whetstine
,
PhD
Harvard Medical School

Forum Scholars

Oliver Ayrault, PhD
Institute Curie
Oren Becher, MD
Duke University
Benjamin P. Berman, PhD
USC Epigenome Center
Grant Challen, PhD
Washington University
Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD
University of California San Diego
Derek Y. Chiang, PhD
Novartis
Sharon J. Diskin, PhD
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Gary Hon, PhD
University of California San Diego
Mohit Jain, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Chang-Hyuk Kwon, PhD
Ohio State University Medical Center
Julie-Aurore Losman, MD, PhD
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Chris Putnam, PhD
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
Alvaro Rada-Iglesias, PhD
Stanford University
Chris Vakoc, MD, PhD
Cold Spring Harbor
Kathryn E. Wellen, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Hao Zu, MD
Harvard Medical School