​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Personalized Caree​​​r Conve​rsations 2018 

Apply for the 2018 session, now!


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 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
Jacksonville, Florida

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 Journal.

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
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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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1802075_Coussens_90x110.jpgLisa Coussens, PhD
Associate Director for Basic Research
OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
Portland, Oregon

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
Genentech, Inc.
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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1802075_English_90x110.jpgJessie M. English, PhD
Vice President, Head of Discovery 
iONC Translational Innovation Platform
Billerica, Massachusetts

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 research organizations.

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 hypertension.

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Priti Hegde, PhD
Director, Oncology
Genentech, Inc.
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.

Key words: biomarkers, blinical trials, immunotherapy

"Be passionate about what you do for a living"

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​S. Percy Ivy, MD
Associate Chief, IDB, CTEP
Bethesda, Maryland

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 Clinical Trials.

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 dysfunction.

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
Boston, Massachusetts

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 medical 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
Carmel, Indiana

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 Chemical Biology Director of Education at the Women's Cancer Research Center
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
                           Magee Women's Research Institute
                           Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dr. 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. 

She 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 of Pittsburgh.

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 
McGill University
                           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
Professor, Experimental Radiation Oncology
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

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 cancer

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 Cancer Biology
Oregon Health Science University
Portland, Oregon

Dr. 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
Cambridge, Massachussetts 

Dr. 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
                           Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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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