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Scholar Retreat

September 15–18, 2011

Chaired By

 Kimberly Kelly, PhD of Massachusetts General Hospital

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 7th annual Forbeck Scholar retreat was held in Lake Geneva, WI from September 15-18th. The meeting was a great mix of Forbeck Scholars and mentors from various fields of cancer. Ensuring a lively discussion, both scholars and mentors adhered to the 5-slide format, allowing free flowing discussion in a true think tank environment.

Due to the diverse interests of the scholars as well as the mentors, topics such as imaging, signal transduction, immunotherapy, and micro RNAs in cancer, brain tumors, and mathematical analysis of the genome were all presented. The opportunity to hear and discuss aspects of cancer outside of each participant’s fields of study is an invaluable experience and fosters many collaborations and cross-fertilizations – essential for progress in the fight against cancer.

The meeting was organized by 2005 Forbeck Scholar Kim Kelly, who, with four additional mentors, each with state-of-the-art science programs, was able to discuss not only outstanding science, but also important aspects of science such as running a laboratory and mentoring other scientists. First time attendee, Dr. Tom Parsons’ focused on recent efforts to understand how mechanical properties of tumor microenvironment affect the biology of tumor cells. Dr. Parsons summed up the event by stating “This was an incredible environment for the exchange of ideas and an opportunity to see the outstanding potential of young researchers starting their careers in cancer”. Invited back as a mentor due to his outstanding research accomplishments was Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy. Dr. Bardeesy discussed the identification of an epigenetic program that overrides cell differentiation and reprograms metabolism in advanced pancreatic cancers. Dr. Craig Logsdon presented his exciting findings on the oncogene Ras and potential underlying mechanisms of pathological Ras activity. Finally, Dr. Mike Jensen, Scientific Advisory Board Member, discussed the potential to use the body’s own immune system as a therapy for cancer.

Forum Participants

Oliver Ayrault, PhD
Institute Curie
 Forbeck Scholar

Nabeel Bardeesy, PhD
Harvard Medical School
 Retreat Mentor

Oren Becher, MD
Duke University
 Forbeck Scholar

Benjamin P. Berman, PhD
University of Southern California
 Forbeck Scholar

Joshua Brody, MD
Mount Sinai Hospital
 Forbeck Scholar

Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD
University of California San Diego
 Forbeck Scholar

Derek Y. Chiang, PhD
"Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc."
 Forbeck Scholar

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

Sharon J. Diskin, PhD
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
 Forbeck Scholar

Michael Jensen, MD
Center for Childhood Cancer Research
 Retreat Mentor

Russell Jones, PhD
McGill University
 Forbeck Scholar

Kimberly Kelly, PhD
University of Virginia
 Retreat Mentor

Chang-Hyuk Kwon, PhD
The Ohio State University
 Forbeck Scholar

Craig Logsdon, MD, PhD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
 Retreat Mentor

Jun Lu, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
 Forbeck Scholar

Carl Novina, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
 Forbeck Scholar

J. Thomas Parsons, PhD
University of Virginia
 Retreat Mentor

Chris Putnam, PhD
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
 Forbeck Scholar

Stefanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhD
Duke University
 Forbeck Scholar

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

Lili Yang, PhD
University of California Los Angeles
 Forbeck Scholar