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BCRF Researchers Meet in New York City to Discuss Latest Scientific Findings

By BCRF | November 1, 2018

More than 200 BCRF investigators attended the annual research retreat.

BCRF researchers discuss the future of early detection, prevention and treatment in breast cancer

On October 24, more than 200 BCRF researchers attended the organization’s annual research retreat in New York City. The event, founded 16 years ago by BCRF Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton, gives investigators a rare opportunity to discuss emerging research findings from current projects, forge new collaborations and expand on existing ones.

The event lies at the core of BCRF’s founding principles: to achieve the greatest impact in ending breast cancer by selecting the best clinical and scientific experts and giving them the freedom and security to think outside the box. This unique model allows researchers to pursue innovative ideas, but also foster collaboration among a diverse community of scientific disciplines.

Jill Rose Award Lecture

Every year, one BCRF researcher is honored for their pioneering work in their respected field with the Jill Rose Award. Dr. Hedvig Hricak, the 2018 Jill Rose Award recipient, gave a compelling lecture highlighting her collaborative work that has redefined the use of radiographic imaging. Dr. Hricak’s research has led the way in merging molecular medicine with imaging to create an integrative tool to more precisely target therapy and non-invasively monitor response to treatment.

Screening and prevention panel

Two panel discussions featured experts in screening and prevention and immunotherapy. Dr. Elizabeth Morris, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, began the screening and prevention panel describing outcomes from a BCRF-supported international think tank comprised of more than 20 experts that focused on developing new screening tools to personalize risk assessment and individualize screening and prevention strategies.

Dr. Morris was then joined by BCRF investigators, Dr. Jack Cuzick, Dr. Laura Esserman who continued the conversation and welcomed comments from researchers in the audience about approaches to reduce overdiagnosis and treatment in low risk women by incorporating genetic information with known risk factors.

Update on immune-oncology

Dr. Robert Vonderheide opened the immuno-oncology discussion with an overview of immunotherapy in breast cancer. He began by acknowledging BCRF’s leadership in advancing immunotherapy in breast cancer.  

“Through Larry Norton’s vision BCRF was the first to invest in immunotherapy research for breast cancer,” he said. “If he hadn’t believed in those of us in the immunotherapy field 10 years ago, we would not be where we are.”

Dr. Vonderheide went on to highlight recent results from an immunotherapy clinical trial in patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Led by BCRF investigator, Dr. Leisha Emens, the groundbreaking trial showed that an anti-PD-L1 drug plus chemotherapy improved survival when compared to chemotherapy alone. The effect was greatest in patients whose tumors had high levels of the PD-L1 protein. This led to the discussion with panelists Dr. Sherene Loi and Dr. Heather McArthur and from the group on other strategies under development to improve response to immunotherapy and how to identify patients most likely to respond.