Personalized Career Conversations 2018
Personalized Career Conversations 2018
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Time and location will be announced: 1) with confirmation of participation; and/or, 2) on the day-of the session.
The AACR Annual Meeting has always offered a variety of unique opportunities for individuals to meet other cancer research experts, but it can be intimidating for early-career scientists to walk up to a senior scientist at a conference and try to start a conversation. Aimed toward Associate Member graduate students, medical students and residents, and clinical and postdoctoral fellows, this unique session will allows participants to pre-register for the opportunity to individually speak with two (2) preferred senior scientists for 15-minutes at the Annual Meeting.
Space is limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis*. Due the unique structure and format of this program, all participants must supply a copy of their CV and confirm that they will be available to participate once paired with their senior scientist(s). Once confirmed, any individual who does not show up for their meeting may be disqualified from participating in future similar opportunities and applications.
*Please note, there may be a very limited opportunity for participants to sign-up onsite, if space is available, and all onsite registrants must be able to provide a hard copy of their CV (printer is available at the door) in order to participate.
This program is offered as a benefit of Associate membership and is a collaborative effort between the Associate Member Council (AMC), the Minorities in Cancer Research Council (MICR), and Women in Cancer Research Council (WICR). #AACR1on1
Participating Senior Scientists from 2018
Please refer to the list of senior scientists below who are participating at the AACR Annual Meeting 2018 in Chicago, IL:
Participating Senior Scientists in Alphabetical Order
- John M. Carethers, MD
- John D. Carpten, PhD
- Geraldo Colon-Otero, MD
- Sabina Cosulich, PhD
- Lisa Coussens, PhD
- Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD
- Mika Derynck, MD
- Jessie M. English, PhD
- Priti Hegde, PhD
- S. Percy Ivy, MD
- Massimo F. Loda, MD
- Amy McKee, MD
- Coleman S. Obasaju, MD, PhD
- Steffi Oesterreich, PhD
- Morag Park, PhD
- Helen M. Piwnica-Worms, PhD
- Pepper Jo Schedin, PhD
- William R. Sellers, MD
- Ashani Weeraratna, PhD
John M. Carethers, MD
John G. Searle Professor and Chair
Department of Internal Medicine
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dr. Carethers received his bachelors degree in biological sciences with a minor in chemistry from Wayne State University, and his MD with high distinction from the same institution. Dr. Carethers did his internship and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Michigan. He was then recruited to the University of California San Diego where he grew his laboratory-based research in the area of DNA mismatch repair and colorectal cancer pathogenesis, saw medicine and gastroenterology patients, including serving as the main physician for hereditary colon cancer referrals in Southern California. He served in leadership roles including the gastroenterology fellowship director, the gastroenterology section chief for the San Diego VA Hospital, then division chief for UC San Diego before being recruited to Michigan as chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. He was the founding director of the NIH-funded UCSD Gastroenterology Center grant, and was the director of the gastroenterology T32 training grant. His laboratory research continues to be funded by the NIH. Dr. Carethers also has interests in colorectal cancer disparities as it relates to genetics and outcomes. He is the former PI of the SDSU/UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership U54 grant, which addresses cancer disparities. He has published over 200 manuscripts and book chapters. He recently completed the role of senior associate editor for Gastroenterology, the highest impact GI journal. He completed a two-year appointment on the National Commission for Digestive Diseases, a U.S. Congressional Commission after his appointment by Elias Zerhouni, MD, then director of the NIH. He was elected a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and elected a member of the American Association of Physicians (AAP), and serves on the AAP Council and will be president beginning April 2018. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2012, and elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. He has a secondary appointment as professor in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan.
Key words: colorectal cancer, DNA mismatch repair, cancer disparities, familial GI cancer
John D. Carpten, PhD
Chair, Department of Translational Genomics
USC Keck School of Medicine
Los Angeles, California
John Carpten, PhD is Professor and Chair for the Department of Translational Genomics. His training and professional experiences include postdoctoral training at the National Human Genome Research Institute/NIH, and serving as deputy director of research at TGen. Dr. Carpten possesses unique training in multiple disciplines including germline genetics for disease risk and predisposition, somatic cancer genomics, health disparities research, cell biology, functional genomics, and precision medicine. The primary focus of his research centers around the development and application of cutting edge genomic technologies and bioinformatics analysis in search of germ-line and somatic alterations that are associated with cancer risk and tumor characteristics, respectively. Dr. Carpten’ cancer research program spans many tumor types including but not limited to prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, and multiple myeloma, in addition to several forms of pediatric cancer. He has a particular interest in the study of cancer’s that disproportionately affect unrepresented populations. He has been involved the development and application of high throughput genomic methods and technologies throughout his career, including clinically relevant approaches in support of pecision mdicine. It is his hope that this work will one day lead to improvements in knowledge based therapeutics toward improvements in outcomes for cancer patients.
Key words: translational research, cancer disparities, purpose, goals
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Gerardo Colon-Otero, MD
Associate Dean, Mayo Medical School
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Gerardo Colon-Otero, MD, is a consultant in the division of
Hematology/Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Florida.
Dr. Colon-Otero is dean of Mayo Clinic School of Medicine’s Florida campus. He
joined the staff of Mayo Clinic in 1986 and holds the academic rank of
professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.
Dr. Colon-Otero earned his bachelors of science at the University of Puerto Rico,
San Juan, and his MD at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. He
completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in
hematology at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester,
Minnesota, followed by a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at
University of Virginia Medical Center.
Dr. Colon-Otero’s clinical focus is care of breast cancer,
hematological malignancies and gynecological malignancy patients. His research
focuses on the treatment of breast cancer and gynecologic malignancies (ovarian
cancer, uterine cancer and cervical cancer) and on efforts to eliminate cancer
care outcome disparities. He collaborates with other scientists at Mayo Clinic
to identify new treatments for gynecologic cancer and breast cancer aimed at
overcoming the problem of tumor resistance.
Dr. Colon-Otero’s research aims at identifying some of the genetic
differences that may contribute to worse cancer care outcomes in different
segments of the population. In collaboration with community entities, his team
develops community-based interventions aimed at ensuring underserved
populations have adequate access to cancer screening and cancer research
programs. He is frequently invited to give presentations on his research both
nationally and internationally and has authored numerous journal articles,
abstracts and other written publications. He also serves as co-editor of Breast
In addition to his clinical and research activities, Dr.
Colon-Otero is active in education and provides mentorship to many fellows,
among others. He has been recognized with multiple teaching awards, including
the Mayo Clinic Distinguished Educator Award, the Mayo Clinic School of
Medicine Distinguished Service Award, and the Mayo Clinic School of Continuous
Professional Development Course Director of the Year Award. He holds master’s
faculty privileges in clinical and translational sciences at Mayo Clinic
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Dr. Colon-Otero has served on many
committees for the American Academy of Cancer Research, currently serving on
the Minorities in Cancer Research Council and on the Selection Committee for
the Distinguished Lectureship on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities. He
also serves on the executive board of the Florida Society of Clinical Oncology
and previously served as president. In addition, he is a member of the
Hematology Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Key words: clinical trials, breast cancer, gynecologist mc cancers
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Sabina Cosulich, PhD
Director, Oncology Research
I have been working in the pharmaceutical
industry for the past 20 years. The field of expertise throughout my career has
been Oncology. My responsibilities have included managing, leading and
delivering pre-clinical research to support a number of drug discovery projects
aiming to deliver compounds into clinical development. I have led cross
disciplinary teams as well as small to medium size groups of scientists (PhD
level, master degrees, postdoctoral scientists and graduates). I have
initiated, directed and delivered research projects as well as drug discovery
projects working in partnership/collaboration with a number of academic institutions,
non-profit making organisations and biotechnology companies.
I obtained my first degree in
biochemistry from Imperial College (University of London) and my PhD in
biochemistry from University of Cambridge. Following my studies, I went on to do
postdoctoral research on the role of p53 in cancer and subsequently the
mechanism of action of the Bcl family of proteins in apoptosis. My main focus
at AstraZeneca has been to study cellular signalling, particularly
PI3K/AKT/mTOR and ER/AR signalling in cancer. I have contributed to the
development of a number of compounds that are now in clinical trials. After 14
years at AstraZeneca, I moved to Switzerland to take up a role of director of
Oncology Drug Discovery at Novartis. In 2014, I moved back to the UK to take a
role at AstraZeneca leading a new bioscience department in Cambridge, UK.
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Lisa Coussens, PhD
Associate Director for Basic Research
OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
Dr. Coussens is chair of the department of cell, developmental and cancer biology, and associate director for basic research in the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Sciences University, and holds the Hildegard Lamfrom Chair in Basic Science. Dr. Coussens' research is focused on revealing the role that normal immune cells play in regulating solid tumor development. Her lab reported that subsets of myeloid cells are co-opted by early tumors to support ongoing cancer development, and subsequently regulate tumor cell response to cytotoxic, targeted and immune therapies. Utilizing mouse models of skin, mammary, pancreas carcinoma, and mesothelioma, her research identified critical immune-regulated pathways that can be targeted therapeutically to block or slow cancer development. These discoveries are being translated into the clinic; Dr. Coussens and colleagues are conducting multi-center clinical trials evaluating novel immune cell-antagonists in combination with chemotherapy in women with metastatic triple negative breast cancer, pancreas cancer and head & neck squamous cancers. In recognition of her research contributions to studying underlying mechanisms of cancer development, Dr. Coussens was awarded a V Foundation Scholar Award (2000), the Gertrude B. Elion Award (2001), two Era of Hope Scholar Awards (2006, 2011), the AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship (2012), the 13th Rosalind E. Franklin Award from the NCI (2015), and is recipient of the 2018 ACR-Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship.
Key words: clinical trials, pediatrics, tumor microenvironment, networking; and, inflammation, cancer, immune therapy
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Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD
Professor, Medicine and Biochemistry
University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Dr. Marcia Cruz-Correa completed her bachelors in Biology and her medical degree at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). She completed a residency in internal medicine at the UPR and a fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU). She completed a doctorate degree in clinical investigation and genetic epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
She is professor of medicine at the UPR, adjunct associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and Adjunct Professor of Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX). She is the director for the division of cancer biology at the at the UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center, leads the hereditary cancer prevention program and is the director of the Center for Research Compliance & Development at the UPR Medical Sciences Campus. Dr. Cruz-Correa is a physician-scientist with strong focus in chemoprevention, hereditary cancer and health disparities. Dr. Cruz-Correa has been continuously funded by the NIH for over 15 years and leads several institutional grants including the Center for Translational Science Award (NIMDH funded) and the Partnerships for Excellence in Cancer Research (NCI funded).
She is actively involved as a chair or committee member in several national professional societies including the American Gastroenterology Association (board member), past council of the AACR Minorities in Cancer Research, Council (MICR) of the AACR Women in Cancer Research (WICR) and inmmediate past member of the NCI National Cancer Advisory Board.
Key words: clinical trials, chemoprevention, hereditary cancer
"Science was always a choice for me, but becoming a physician scientist changed my life. Through formal education, mentors and an insatiable curiosity I have seen how we can move from a question to an answer, and develop an intervention to impact a community. Keeping an attitude for learning, surrounding yourself with people that share your passion for discovery and service have been the key to a gratifying career journey that is only getting better!"
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Mika Derynck, MD
Senior Medical Director, Clinical Oncology
South San Francisco, California
Mika Derynck has over 20 years of academic clinical research, and drug development experience. She is currently at Genentech/Roche and is the Product Development Oncology (PDO) Franchise head for genitourinary (GU) cancers. She oversees and is the governance chair and is responsible for the clinical development strategy of the Genentech/Roche portfolio of medicines in GU cancers, both targeted agents, cancer immunotherapy molecules and combinations, from Phase I to III and registration. She also oversees the development of Avastin, an anti-angiogenesis drug that is used in several cancer types such as colon, lung, ovarian, glioblastoma, and cervical cancers. In addition to these activities, Mika oversees the drug development team in China, where there is a separate unit as part of the global development team at Roche. She manages a team of senior Medical Directors and clinical scientists and has developed numerous global clinical development leaders. She is a member of the Oncology Leadership Team (OLT) for Product Development, member of the Joint Oncology Leadership Team (JOLT), with cross-functional scientific/business leaders at Genentech/Roche. Prior to her new role Mika was a co-chair for the Breast Cancer Disease Area Team, developed the most recent Breast Cancer Strategy, and was Franchise head of the Breast Program. Prior to her role in PDO, Mika was in the early stage development team at Genentech (gRED) and lead the signaling pathway program for with oversight on the PI3K, AKT, mTOR and MEK programs with over 7 first-in-human molecule development through phase I and II.
Mika is trained in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, having received her M.D. at Boston University, residency at Johns Hopkins University, and fellowship at University of California, San Francisco. Shortly after completion of her fellowship, she joined the faculty at UCSF and continued her clinical and translational research work in Prostate Cancer. She joined Genentech in 2004.
Key words: genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, clinical trials, translational drug development
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Jessie M. English, PhD
Vice President, Head of Discovery
iONC Translational Innovation Platform
Dr. English is head of research
of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer
Science is an integrated cancer research center established to increase the
probability of success of novel oncology therapeutics by integrating academic
and industry efforts in drug discovery. Dr.
English leads a multi-disciplinary team of experienced cancer researchers and
industry-seasoned professionals who identify and define the best targets and
define the optimal clinical path for targeted cancer therapies.
Dr. English previously served as
the vice president of Kinase Biology at ArQule, where she had responsibilities
spanning target identification through product candidate selection and
development support. Prior to ArQule,
she was the oncology site lead for external discovery at Merck Research
Laboratories, where she was responsible for driving drug discovery programs
through external scientific collaborations with industrial and academic
partners. These diverse partnerships
spanned the globe and include partners from academia, biotech and contract
In 2004, she joined Pfizer
Research Technology Center in Cambridge, MA, where she established and led
Pfizer's Kinase Center of Emphasis which prosecuted 20 percent of Pfizer's early
discovery stage kinase programs. At Pfizer she established a platform for
efficiently prosecuting kinases including developing paradigms for identifying
novel chemical matter targeting kinases. Also at Pfizer her team delineated a
novel mechanism of resistance to sunitinib and imatinib in cKit mutated GIST.
Dr. English began her career in industry in 1998 at
Schering-Plough Research Institute where she led a cross-functional team
focusing on kinase targets for cancer therapy.
In addition to traditional drug discovery, Dr. English published the
first curation of protein kinases in the human genome as well as an elucidation
of the ERK1,2 transcriptome in mammary epithelial cells.
Dr. English earned her bachelors with honors in biochemistry
from Kansas State University and her PhD in neurobiology from the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a postdoctoral fellow at UT
Southwestern Medical Center, in Dr. Melanie Cobb’s laboratory where she
discovered a novel mammalian MAPK pathway through the discovery and
characterization of MEK5. Dr. English also discovered the WNK gene family that
was subsequently determined to be responsible for a hereditary form of
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Priti Hegde, PhD
South San Francisco, California
Dr. Hegde is
a director and global franchise biomarker lead for cancer immunotherapy at
Genentech/Roche. In addition to developing diagnostic strategies for cancer
immunotherapy agents, her team is focused on developing a deep understanding of
tumor immune biology as well as mechanisms associated with immune response and
immune escape in cancer patients, with the intent of generating rational
development strategies for combination therapies. Prior to joining
Genentech in 2007, Dr. Hegde led genomics-based biomarker activities in
oncology and cardiovascular diseases at GlaxoSmithKline. She received her
postdoctoral training in colorectal cancer genomics at the Institute for
Genomic Research (now part of the J. Craig Venter Institute) in 2000 and her
graduate training in biochemical pharmacology from the State University of New
York at Buffalo, NY.
biomarkers, blinical trials, immunotherapy
passionate about what you do for a living"
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S. Percy Ivy, MD
Associate Chief, IDB, CTEP
S. Percy Ivy, MD is the Associate Chief (2005-present) of
the Investigational Drug Branch (IDB) which is part of the Cancer Therapy
Evaluation Program (CTEP) (1997-present) in the Division of Cancer Treatment
and Diagnosis of the National Cancer Institute. She received her medical and
subspecialty training at Tulane University Medical School, Vanderbilt
University Medical Center and the National Cancer Institute, respectively.
During her fellowship she worked in the Molecular Pharmacology Section which
focused on the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance mediated by the ABC
transporter genes in models of breast cancer and carcinogenesis. She is
currently an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington
University School of Medicine on the faculty at Children’s National Medical
Center where she attends in the leukemia clinic.
In her role as Associate Chief of IDB she has supervised
nine Senior Investigators and multiple
fellows in the Developmental Chemotherapy Section which became Experimental
Therapeutics Section I with a focus on inhibitors of DNA repair and damage
response including PARPi, Wee1, DNA-PKi, angiogenesis inhibitors, heat shock
protein 90 inhibitors and inhibitors of receptor:ligand interactions including disregulated
cancer stem cell embryonic signaling pathways for hedgehog, notch, wnt and
others. She has received 15 NIH Merit Awards for her work on specialized
studies in patients with hepatic and renal dysfunction using cancer investigational
therapeutics, use of novel imaging techniques for the evaluation of
investigational agents in early clinical trials and most recently for assisting
the in the implementation of the Investigational Drug Steering Committee (IDSC)
which is part of the Clinical Trials Working Group, an NCI initiative for
improving NCI-sponsored clinical trials in the US. She serves on the IDSC
coordination team as well as starting the angiogenesis task force and NCI
chairing the Clinical Trial Design and Pharmacology Task Forces for Early
She serves as the program director for the Experimental
Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network which is funded by NCI. She serves on the Scientific Committee for
the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets Conference and for the Experimental
Therapeutics Section for ASCO. She has presented both nationally and
internationally on topics related to early therapeutics development, early
phase clinical trial design, biomarker development, the role of anti-angiogenic
agents in cancer therapy, clinical trials for patients with hepatic and renal
She has participated in the development of over 60
investigational agents, co-developed and monitored greater than 100 early phase
clinical trials, established the NCI organ dysfunction working group that has
evaluated 20 plus drugs, co-authored or authored 208 manuscripts and 15 book
chapters in her areas of interest in experimental therapeutics. She has
received the Margaret B. and Cyril A. Shulman Distinguished Service Award for
starting the general pediatric clinic for medically indigent children at Bread
for the City/Zaccheus Free Clinic and supports Doorways for women and children
who are victims of abuse and established the Woody and Mickey Healthy Pet Fund
that supports the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, VA.
Key words: early phase drug development, early phase clinical trial design, bio marker development for clinical research, regulatory issues including AE reporting
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Massimo F. Loda, MD
Chair, Deptartment of Oncologic Pathology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Massimo Loda, MD is a professor of pathology, a senior staff pathologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Chair of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's department of oncologic pathology, principal investigator on an RO1 focused on the connection between metabolic syndrome and aggressive prostate cancer, core director for pathology cores in the prostate, pancreas and GI cancer SPORES and program projects. Dr. Loda's laboratory has been focused for several years in the study of biomarkers of cancer pathogenesis and progression (with specific interest in prostate and GI cancers) as well as metabolic alterations either associated with oncogene activation or as primary drivers of tumorigenesis.
Key Words: metabolism and prostate
cancer; molecular pathology; Cell cycle regulation in cancer
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Amy E. McKee, MD
Acting Deputy Office Director
Office of Hematology Oncology Products
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Silver Spring, Maryland
Dr. McKee is the deputy director (acting) for the oncology
center of excellence as well as supervisory associate director in the Office of
Hematology and Oncology Products (OHOP) of the center for Drug Evaluation and
Research, United States Food and Drug Administration. Dr. McKee received her
bachelors from Middlebury College, and before obtaining her medical degree at Tulane
University School of Medicine, Dr. McKee was a reporter for Elsevier’s
industry trade journal “The Pink Sheet.” She completed her pediatric training
at the Floating Hospital for Children/New England Medical Center and her
pediatric hematology/oncology training at the combined Johns Hopkins
University/National Cancer Institute fellowship program. Since joining the FDA,
she has reviewed numerous new molecular entities for marketing approval in
oncology; authored multiple manuscripts on new approvals, on targeted therapy
drug development and on clinical trial endpoints for regulatory applications;
and chaired workshops on dose-finding in oncology and accelerating new product
development for ovarian cancer.
Key words: clinical
trials, drug development, dose-finding, pediatric hematology/oncology
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Coleman S. Obasaju, MD, PhD
U.S. Medical Director, Oncology
Eli Lilly and Company
Coleman K. Obasaju, MD, PhD,
is the global leader for diversity in clinical research, global medical affairs
leader for Erbitux and Necitumumab and had responsibility for the US Medical
Liaisons, in the Oncology Business Unit (OBU) of Eli Lilly.
Dr. Obasaju received his medical
degree at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria. He then went on to
pursue post-graduate training in clinical pharmacology and medical oncology in
England at the Christie Hospital and the University of Manchester, obtaining
both a master’s and a doctorate degree.
A former Audrey Mayer Mars
Oncology Fellow, Dr. Obasaju completed an internal medicine residency program
at the University of Pennsylvania Health Systems and then went on to a combined
fellowship in medical oncology/hematology in the U.S. at Fox Chase Cancer
Center and Temple University Cancer Hospital, both in Philadelphia. He obtained
a Clinical Investigator Training Program (CITP) Fellowship awarded by the
National Cancer Institute (NCI) prior to joining Eli Lilly and Company in 2001.
Additionally, Dr. Obasaju served
for four years as a member of the American Association for Cancer Research
(AACR) Minority in Cancer Research Council (MICR). In that role, he provided more
visibility to the scientific contribution of minority scientists and developed
strategies to improve the pipeline of future minority investigators.
Dr. Obasaju has given multiple
presentations in national and international forums and is the author of
numerous publications in peer review journals.
In 2013, Dr. Obasaju was awarded
the prestigious Scroll of Merit for outstanding work in the field of medicine,
and specifically for his dedication and tenacious efforts in clinical research
and untiring focus on increasing minority participation in clinical trials.
When Coleman Obasaju started
working in clinical trial development at Lilly, he was shocked to see the poor
representation of minorities in clinical trials in the entire industry, even
for diseases from which minorities suffer disproportionately.
Obasaju rang the alarm bells in
Lilly Oncology, where several other individuals were aligned with his passion
and vision to have clinical test groups better match the disease prevalence
rate in the general population.
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Steffi Oesterreich, MD, PhD
Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Pharmacology and
Director of Education at the Women's
Cancer Research Center
Magee Women's Research Institute
Oesterreich was recruited to the University of Pittsburgh in August 2010 as
professor with tenure in the department of pharmacology and chemical biology, and
as director of education in the Women’s Cancer Research Center, a collaboration
between the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Magee-Womens Research Institute. Her
laboratory focuses on mechanisms of endocrine resistance in breast cancer. Through the use of diverse cell and molecular
biology approaches, mouse models, and clinical specimens, her group aims to
identify the genetic and epigenetic changes that cause resistance to
anti-estrogen therapies and that can be targeted to prevent, overcome or
reverse resistance. Her group also
focuses on invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC), the second most common histological
subtype of breast cancer. These studies
focus on ER action in ILC, and on drivers of metastases.
has authored over 140 scientific articles in the area of breast cancer, serves
on editorial boards for Cancer Research and Hormones and Cancer, and functions
as associate editor for Breast Cancer Research.
Dr Oesterreich is Susan G Komen Scholar, a selective group of leading
national and international breast cancer experts. She recently finished chairing the Tumor Cell
Biology Study Section at the NIH, and will be chairing the next Gordon Research
Conference on Hormones and Cancer. Dr
Oesterreich and her husband Dr. Lee, also a breast cancer researcher at UPMC
HCC, and their two daughters are happy in Pittsburgh, and proudly present a four
person-Pitt-household, with both daughters currently attending the University
Key words: endocrine resistance, breast cancer, translational research
"Passion, perseverance, good mentors and hard work are critical for success."
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Morag Park, PhD
Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre
Montréal, QC CANADA
Dr. Morag Park is a professor in the departments of oncology and biochemistry and joined McGill in 1989. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, James McGill Professor and holds the Diane and Sal Guerrera Chair in Cancer Genetics at McGill University. Dr. Park received bachelors of science with first class honors from the University of Glasgow, a PhD in viral carcinogenesis at the Medical Research Council Virology Institute in Scotland and completed postdoctoral training at the National Institutes for Cancer Research in Washington DC, US. She joined McGill University in 1988. She was the director of the Molecular Oncology Group at the McGill University Hospital Centre (2006-8), scientific director of the Institute of Cancer Research for the CIHR (2008-13), co-chair of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (2008-2010) and is now director of the Goodman Cancer Research Centre (2013-present). Dr. Park is a research leader in the field of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and mechanisms of oncogenic activation of RTKs in human cancers. She has recently developed leadership in the breast cancer microenvironment. She is the elected chair of the Tumour Microenvironment Network of the American Association for Cancer Research (2015-2017). She is a recipient of a Canadian Cancer Research Alliance Award (2015) for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research, and also a recipient of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences Arthur Wynne Gold Medal Prize (2016) for having made major contributions to biochemistry, molecular and cell biology in Canada, Most recently she is a recipient of the Canadian Cancer Society's 2017 Robert L. Noble Prize. She has more than 200 publications.
Key words: tumor microenvironment, breast cancer, oncogenesis
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Helen M. Piwnica-Worms, PhD
The University of Texas MD
Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Piwnica-Worms is professor of experimental
radiation oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is
an American Cancer Society research professor and a member of the National
Academy of Medicine Dr. Piwnica-Worms completed a bachelors in biology at St. Olaf
College (1979), a PhD degree in microbiology and immunology at Duke
University Medical School (1984) and a postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at
the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (1988). She was instructor of pathology at
Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute from 1988-1989 prior to
moving to Tufts University Medical School where she was assistant professor of
physiology (1989-1992) followed by Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel
Hospital, Boston where she was associate professor of microbiology and
molecular genetics (1992-1994). In 1994, Dr. Piwnica-Worms moved to Washington
University School of Medicine in St. Louis where she was the Gerty T. Cori
professor and chair of cell biology and physiology. She also served as
associate director of basic science at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and
co-directed the BRIGHT Institute at Washington University. She moved her
research program to MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2013.
Key words: cell cycle, cancer biology, breast
There is no sudden leap into the
stratosphere… There is only advancing step by step, slowly and tortuously, up
the pyramid toward your goals. -Ben Stein
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Pepper Jo Schedin, PhD
Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and
Oregon Health Science University
Pepper Schedin is as a professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental &
Cancer Biology at Oregon Health & Sciences University, a Co-Leader for the
Cancer Prevention and Control Program within the Knight Cancer Institute, and
Director of the Knight Cancer Institute’s Junior Faculty Advancement Program .
The Schedin lab is broadly interested in how physiologic breast remodeling,
such as occurs with weaning-induced involution, are “hot-spots” for breast
cancer progression. A key focus is on elucidating stromal mechanisms of tumor
promotion that account for the poor prognosis of postpartum breast cancers. - Pepper Schedin, PhD
Key words: postpartum breast cancer, tumor microenvironment
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William R. Sellers, MD
Core Institute Member
Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School
Sellers is a Core Institute Member at the Broad Institute and a Professor of
Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School where
he runs a research group focused on translating genomic discoveries into new
therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Sellers directed
cancer drug discovery and early cancer clinical development at the Novartis
Institutes for BioMedical Research overseeing scientists, clinicians and
clinical staff on sites in Cambridge, East Hanover, Basel and Shanghai from
2005-2016. Since joining Novartis in 2005 the oncology research group brought more
than 30 small molecule, biologic and cell-based cancer therapeutics into
first-in-man trials including therapeutics targeting the PI3K, CDK4, IDH, ABL,
SMO, HER3, ALK, Wnt, PIM and Ras pathways among others.
During his tenure he conceptualized
and directed the collaboration with the Broad Institute on the Cancer Cell Line
Encyclopedia, the development of the Novartis Primary Derived Xenograft
Encyclopedia and large-scale efforts to functionally characterize the cancer genome. Along with Dr. Carl June, he co-chaired the
CART collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania that brought CTL019 to a
recent FDA approval.
He previously was an Associate
Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical
School and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. Together with Matthew Meyerson,
he initiated and developed large-scale efforts to resequence genes in diverse
cancer types. In addition they pioneered the use of high-density SNP arrays for
defining LOH and copy number alterations across cancer including the
development of the widely used GISTIC algorithm. These projects led to
discovery of EGFR mutations in lung adenocarcinoma and the discovery of the
oncogenic role of the MITF gene in melanoma. In addition, his work advanced the
understanding of the molecular mechanisms of growth regulation of the PTEN
tumor suppressor gene. Dr. Sellers was a member of the National Cancer Advisory
Board. Dr. Sellers received his B.S.
from Georgetown University in 1982 and M.D. from the University of
Massachusetts Medical School in 1986. He completed residency training in
Internal Medicine at the University of California San Francisco in 1989 and
trained in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
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Ashani Weeraratna, PhD
Ira Brind Professor
Co-Program Leader, Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis
Melanoma Research Center
The Wistar Institute
Dr. Weeraratna is the Ira Brind professor and co-program leader, Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program Member at the Wistar Institute. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Southern Africa, Weeraratna first came to the United States in 1988 to study biology at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She earned a PhD in molecular and cellular oncology at the department of pharmacology of George Washington University Medical Center. From 1998 to 2000, she was a post-doctoral fellow at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, before joining the National Human Genome Research Institute as a staff scientist. In 2003, she moved to the National Institute on Aging, where she started her own research program. Weeraratna joined The Wistar Institute in 2011.
Her primary research focus is on melanoma and how changes in the tumor cell's microenvironment, which include changes in normal cells, blood vessels, and secreted molecules might initiate the disease's spread to other parts of the body and also make it resistant to treatment. She is specifically interested in how age-related changes drive the progression of cancer
Through speaking engagements and social media, Dr. Weeraratna diligently promotes skin safety, from urging proper sunscreen use to regular mole checks, as well as the dangers of indoor tanning. She is also a fierce champion of and a mentor for women in science and girls pursuing a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
Key words: microenvironment, metastasis, melanoma, aging, therapy resistance.
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