Community of Breast Cancer Researchers and Clinicians Meet to Foster Collaboration
Biologists, clinicians and translational scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and The Methodist Hospital in Houston assembled at the Medical College Oct. 12 for the inaugural Tri-Campus Breast Cancer Research Retreat.
The retreat brought together a community of researchers interested in several aspects of the pathogenesis and progression of breast cancer so as to foster multidisciplinary work, exchange ideas and collaboration.
"The point of the retreat was to get all the doctors working in different aspects of breast cancer talking to each other to collaborate on different projects and to bring together the richness of one lab with the richness of another lab," said Dr. Anne Moore, professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell and medical director of the Weill Cornell Breast Center who attended the retreat.
It's also a way to foster dialogue between researchers and clinicians, who can learn what each side of medicine is doing and what resources are available to advance research, Dr. Moore added.
The retreat was organized by Dr. Anthony Brown, associate professor of cell and developmental biology and associate professor of cell biology in microbiology and immunology, in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Dannenberg, the Henry R. Erle, M.D. - Roberts Family Professor of Medicine, professor of medicine in surgery and professor of medicine in cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell and oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. It evolved from discussions and collaborations between individual investigators at the three institutions with the goal of allying experts in the field to address the most intractable challenge in breast cancer, metastasis.
The scientific program during the retreat was divided into four sessions: Emerging Concepts; Microenvironment/ Inflammation; Application of Emerging Technologies; and Translational, Clinical, and Bench to Bedside projects. Each session included three to four 15-minute oral presentations focused on a specific area of breast cancer research being conducted at the three institutions followed by discussion.
The retreat ended with a one-hour discussion. One of the conclusions elicited by the discussion was that there are major research strengths at each institution that would contribute to an innovative program investigating mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis and new therapeutic targets. The program would have the potential to improve the treatment options offered to metastatic breast cancer patients as well as identify patients at high risk of metastatic disease who might benefit from preventive therapies.
The steps leading to these outcomes include: prioritizing the most important basic and translational research themes; building and tracking progress towards multi-investigator collaborations; insuring efficient use of critical resources; and developing internet-based opportunities for data exchange and communication among breast cancer investigators at the different campuses.
The retreat participants agreed that these steps should be acted on within the next several months to maintain the momentum generated by the retreat and insure progress towards the scientific goals.
"If you put everyone in a room together, it's amazing what they learn from each other," Dr. Moore said.