The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will host Pediatric Cancer Translational Genomics Feb. 6-8 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, bringing together more than 150 leading pediatric cancer researchers, clinicians and foundations to promote the exchange of information and ideas for advancing pediatric cancer research and treatment.
The causes of childhood cancers are largely unknown and although rare it remains the leading disease killer of children. With the incidence rate at 2 in every 10,000 children, the need for a personalized or "precision" diagnoses and treatment is critical. Medical success in treating the blood cancers of children has not been matched in treating children with cancers of the brain, bone and other so-called "solid tumors". This conference is focused on helping provide a future of hope to this group of children.
The two-and-a-half day conference features 38 speakers who will present their most current research findings in the area of pediatric solid tumors and how today's genomic technology can be leveraged to make greater strides against pediatric cancer.
Prominent lecturers include: Dr. Peter Adamson, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Group Chair of the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research; Dr. Lee Helman, Scientific Director for Clinical Research at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research; Dr. Elaine Mardis, Associate Professor of Genetic and Molecular Microbiology and Co-Director of The Genome Institute at the Washington University School of Medicine; Dr. Barbara Wold, Director of the National Cancer Institute's new Center for Cancer Genomics; and Dr. Michael Link, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and a leader in the field of pediatric oncology.
This conference is an example of bringing together the right group of doctors, at the right time in the history of medical science, to set the stage for studies just starting to use a patient's own cancer genome to custom design their therapy.
"This is an opportunity for leading pediatric researchers from across the country and internationally to share information and help set the course for the future of pediatric cancer clinical trials," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Research Director and a conference organizer. "The collaborative model behind this conference is a perfect example of how public-private partnerships positively move research and treatment forward at a pace not seen before."
A recent example of a successful public-private initiative is Dell's major commitment of funding to TGen, involving employee engagement and cloud computing technology to back pediatric cancer research programs globally. Their support included support for the world's first personalized medicine trial for pediatric cancer conducted by the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC). The NMTRC is a group of over a dozen universities, research institutions and children's hospitals headquartered at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) that offer a nationwide network of childhood cancer clinical trials. "What we want to find are more targeted therapies - therapies that are specific for those cancer cells - that do not harm the rest of the child," said Dr. Giselle Sholler, Co-Director of the Pediatric Translational Research Program at VARI and a conference organizer. "Currently, we use chemotherapy that attacks the whole body. About half of the patients relapse, and when they do there is no cure."
Along with Drs. Trent and Sholler, other members of the conference organizing committee who will make presentations are:
- Dr. Javed Khan, National Cancer Institute
- Dr. Poul Sorensen, British Columbia Cancer Research Centre
- Dr. Craig Webb, Van Andel Research Institute
- Dr. Chand Khanna, National Cancer Institute
- Ms. Liz Jackson, The St. Baldrick's Foundation
- Ms. Lisa Tichenor, What Would Willie Want (QuadW) Foundation
Conference goals include: provide an informal mechanism for coordinating research and eliminating duplication; prioritize questions and agree on best practices to help move the field of pediatric oncology forward.
"This conference will help establish a framework for how we merge science, medicine and technology so that we study the biology of the pediatric patient and their individual genomic differences, and then leverage the technology to put all that information together and make a decision how to treat the patient in front of us today, not six months or a year from now," said Dr. Lee Helman, Scientific Director for Clinical Research at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research.
A unique aspect of the conference centers on the participation and support from a number of leading pediatric cancer foundations that provide the patient's perspective to research and treatment, including St. Baldrick's Foundation; What Would Willie Want (QuadW) Foundation; CureSearch for Children's Cancer (who also sponsored 10 travel awards); Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research (Rally); and Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
"The St. Baldrick's Foundation is honored to be sponsoring this meeting and partnering with other childhood cancer foundations to promote the best possible use of genomics in pediatric cancer research," said Liz Jackson, Director of Grants Administration, St. Baldrick's Foundation. "We are excited about the potential for using these new tools to bring about new treatments to give kids fighting cancer longer and healthier lives."
QuadW founder and organizing committee member Mac Tichenor said, "This conference will involve the world's leading genomics experts identifying intriguing and promising leads that are emerging from new genomics data and techniques. We are pleased to be a sponsor and eager to work to advance the priorities that come out of the conference."