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Scholar Retreat

September 17–20, 2009

Chaired By

 Jan Karlseder, PhD of The Salk 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 5th scholar retreat took place from September 17th to 20th in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and was another spectacular success. The meeting was attended by scholars honored with the award in the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. A few cancellations were compensated by the enthusiastic participation and wonderfully lively discussions by the scholars of the other years. Meeting guidelines followed the famous 5-sliderule established in the Hilton Head meetings, which led to vigorous scientific exchange and in-depth discussion of numerous cancer related topics.

While a single topic is discussed at the forum in Hilton Head, the Scholar retreat harbors representatives of four previous different topics. This arrangement leads to extraordinarily stimulating discussions, and at the same time allows the participants to learn from each other and expand their horizon to areas of cancer research that they are not directly involved in. Consequently, the educational aspects of the scholar retreat are strongly enhanced.

One of the most important features of the scholar retreat is the mixing of young scientists in various stages of their careers. Some participants are just about to transition from being a postdoc to their first faculty position, while others have spent a year or two as heads of laboratories already, and again some are even more advanced in their careers. What everybody has in common is a deep understanding and respect of the hurdles that young scientists face. Many discussions about grant writing, hiring of lab personnel and writing of publications ensued.

Four mentors participated in the meeting, also spanning a range of career stages, with Dr. Inder Verma being the most distinguished and presenting the opening speech on Thursday evening. All of the mentors were highly impressed with the quality of the science presented by the scholars, and it was wonderful to see a number of collaborations between senior and junior scientists develop on the spot in Lake Geneva.

Forum Participants

Arthur Alberts, PhD
Van Andel Institute
 Retreat Mentor

Carla F. Bender Kim, PhD
Boston Children's Hospital
 Forbeck Scholar

Joshua Brody, MD
Mount Sinai Hospital
 Forbeck Scholar

Kristina Cole, MD, PhD
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
 Forbeck Scholar

Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
 Forbeck Scholar

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD
University of California San Diego
 Forbeck Scholar

Russell Jones, PhD
McGill University
 Forbeck Scholar

Jan Karlseder, PhD
Salk Institute
 Retreat Mentor

Kimberly Kelly, PhD
University of Virginia
 Forbeck Scholar

Jun Lu, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
 Forbeck Scholar

Ingo K. Mellinghoff, MD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
 Forbeck Scholar

Carl Novina, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
 Forbeck Scholar

Michael Safran, PhD
Sheba Cancer Research Center
 Forbeck Scholar

Stefanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhD
Duke University
 Forbeck Scholar

Ruben Shaw
Salk Institute
 Retreat Mentor

Andrea Ventura, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
 Forbeck Scholar

Inder M. Verma
The Sam Institute
 Retreat Mentor

Benjamin B. Williams, PhD
Dartmouth Medical School
 Forbeck Scholar

Joseph C. Wu, MD, PhD
Stanford University
 Forbeck Scholar

Lili Yang, PhD
University of California Los Angeles
 Forbeck Scholar