Systemic Metabolism in Cancer

Forum Chairs

Vander Heiden
Koch Institute at MIT
Crick Institute

Forum Description

There has been a clear shift in cancer research efforts over the past decade from a focus on the cancer cells themselves to the concept that tumours interact with normal host cells and tissues, and that these interactions can affect disease biology. Major research efforts are now considering the whole body in cancer development, including not only how tumour cells interact with their local environment, but also how the tumour and whole-body systems interact. Such a holistic approach to the disease increases the complexity of the problem and leads to a consideration how the entire tumour/host system responds to carcinogens, therapies and life-style inputs such as exercise, aging and diet, allowing us to consider how whole-body metabolism affects and is affected by the presence of a tumour. For example, we are still do not know how obesity promotes tumour development, and what underlies the enigmatic observation that in some cases, obese patients fare better during therapy. Cachexia is another poorly understood whole body response to cancer that has a devastating impact on patient quality of life and survival, and yet is refractory to treatment.

An increased focus on the whole patient and how they live with a cancer diagnosis brings with it an acknowledgement that many cancer patients are desperate to retain some control over at least some aspect of their treatment, a desire frequently articulated as a wish to modulate their diet. However, to date there is no clear answer to the question “what should I eat to improve my outcome?”. Selective dietary intervention that matches tumour genetics and the type of treatment with bespoke, precision diets are being developed and may provide an important new pillar to the therapeutic arsenal.

A consideration of systemic metabolism in cancer has opened many new avenues of research, including the development of models that take into account these complex interactions. This Forbeck meeting would bring together leaders in the exploration of how systemic metabolism and cancer interactions are impacted by factors such as obesity, diet, exercise, age, and other systemic diseases such as infection and diabetes. Our discussions could extend to the impact of sex and ethnicity – although little is known about these factors beyond epidemiological evidence that they can be important. Furthermore, we would consider how cancer therapies impact normal tissue physiology to affect interactions with the cancer. We aim to provoke discussion, new ideas and new collaborations that build on recent work that has offered tantalizing glimpses into how cancer coordinates the response of the whole body, and the new therapeutic approaches this knowledge will provide.

Forum Summary

Venue & Travel Information

Castello Dal Pozzo

Via Visconti 8
28040 Oleggio Castello, Italy
Castello Dal Pozzo's history is as unique and historic as its luxurious surroundings, and it boasts gourmet restaurants, an outdoor pool, endless gardens, and resort-style amenities. The romantic Castle was originally built by the Visconti family and has been in the Dal Pozzo family for six generations. While decorated with sumptuous chandeliers, sumptuous furnishings and fabrics, and exquisite crystal goblets, our 45-room boutique hotel feels more like a private residence than a 5-star luxury hotel.
Castello Dal Pozzo

Travel Forms

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

The Malpensa Airport (MXP) is the preferred airport as it is only 25 minutes from the meeting location.

The Foundation will be providing airport transfer from MXP airport.

August 28, 2023
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 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 28, 2023
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.

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

Forum Participants

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Forum Scholars

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