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Scholar Retreat

September 15–18, 2005

Chaired By

 David E. Fisher, MD, PhD of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Meeting 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.

Meeting Summary

The first Junior Forbeck Cancer Research Symposium was held at Williams College, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in September 2005. The meeting represented the remarkable organizational and fundraising accomplishments of the Forbeck Foundation’s Junior Board, spearheaded largely by Jamie Forbeck. Attendees at the meeting were previous Forbeck Scholar awardees, a group of young cancer researchers in training who had been competitively selected to attend one of the Hilton Head Forbeck Symposia within the previous 4 years. In addition, 5 senior cancer researchers attended, both to participate scientifically, and to offer mentorship advice. David Fisher, a prior Scholar himself and member of the Forbeck Foundation scientific advisory committee, served as scientific chair of the Symposium.

By all measures, this new meeting was a resounding success. Scientific presentations represented a stunning cross-section of hot topics in cancer research. They differed from the Hilton Head Symposia in the diversity of topics, rather than the highly concentrated themes typical of the Hilton Head meetings. The quality of science presented, as well as the intensity of the discussion was virtually indistinguishable from the meetings attended by senior researchers. The presented research spanned fundamental mechanisms of cell growth and survival, to identification of novel oncogenes in human cancers. The combination of scientific as well as clinical expertise of the participants permitted an especially fertile testing ground for discussions of how to apply basic discoveries to the cancer clinic. Adding further to the value of Junior Symposium were the opportunities for mentoring and advising, including informal discussions of how to deal with prestigious journal editors, to grant-writing.

Finally, the Junior Symposium brought together an outstanding cohort of rising stars in cancer research, unified as Forbeck awardees, and representing a prestigious grouping of university Assistant Professors across broad geographical settings. Personal and scientific relationships among the Forbeck Scholars suggest that this is a remarkable “club” of gifted young cancer scientists. The decision to nurture this group has fortified the Forbeck legacy through focusing on those who represent the future of cancer research.

Forum Participants

James Amatruda, MD, PhD
UT Southwestern Medical Center
 Forbeck Scholar

Edward Attiyeh, MD
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
 Forbeck Scholar

Christopher Bakkenist, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
 Forbeck Scholar

Nabeel Bardeesy, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital
 Forbeck Scholar

Alison Bertuch, MD, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine
 Forbeck Scholar

David E. Fisher, MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
 Retreat Mentor

Elsa Flores, PhD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
 Forbeck Scholar

Jan Karlseder, PhD
Salk Institute
 Forbeck Scholar

Anthony Letai, MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
 Forbeck Scholar

Scott Lowe, PhD
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
 Retreat Mentor

Masashi Narita, MD, PhD
UK Cambridge Institute
 Forbeck Scholar

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
 Forbeck Scholar

Charles L. Sawyers, MD
University of California Los Angeles
 Retreat Mentor

Norman Sharpless, MD
University of North Carolina
 Forbeck Scholar

Charles Sherr, MD, PhD
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
 Retreat Mentor

Craig Thompson, MD
University of Pennsylvania
 Retreat Mentor

David Tuveson, MD, PhD
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
 Forbeck Scholar