Establishing New Partnerships to Advance Radiation Science and Medicine

Since the establishment of the AACR Radiation Science and Medicine (RSM) Working Group in 2015, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has markedly increased its presence in the fields of radiation oncology and radiobiology. In 2018, the RSM Working Group will further accelerate its initiatives, beginning with a collaboration with the Radiation Research Society (RRS). The AACR will present a workshop titled Targeting Cancer Metabolism to Improve Radiotherapy, in cooperation with RRS from February 28 – March 2 in Big Sky, Montana. Since its inception, the RSM Working Group has prioritized forming partnerships with other organizations in the radiation field, and this workshop represents the first collaboration between the AACR and RRS.

The importance of this workshop is highlighted by the fact that over 50 percent of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy at some point during their treatments. Additionally, tumor cell metabolism is a crucial area for defining a tumor’s fundamental biology and informing how cancer patients are treated.

David R. Gius, MD, PhD

“This workshop will bring together a diverse number of radiation biologists and clinicians and as such, I think that it will likely be a catalyst for moving forward research in metabolism and learning how normal and tumor cells respond to therapeutic radiation,” says David R. Gius, MD, PhD, who currently serves as chairperson of the RSM Working Group and as Zell Family Scholar professor, director of the Women’s Cancer Research Program, and vice chair of Translational Research in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Gius added that the AACR and RRS are the two major research organizations for academic radiation researchers and radiation oncologists and that the RSM Working Group has acted as a bridge to bring these organizations together. He commented that this initial collaboration is anticipated to continue to benefit members of both societies by leading to subsequent partnerships and collaborations.

As the AACR representative on the workshop planning committee, Gius remarked, “the committee has placed significant importance on recruiting early-career investigators to this meeting as well as providing them opportunities for oral presentations so that they can receive important feedback and direction for their research both in terms of publications and funding opportunities.”

The workshop program is designed to facilitate scientific discussions that focus on how best to leverage tumor-specific metabolic alterations to improve radiotherapy efficacy. Throughout the workshop, both preclinical and clinical studies will be discussed, with an added emphasis on innovative bench-to-bedside approaches.

As noted by Gius, the meeting will include multiple opportunities for both formal and informal interactions between researchers. “This will include extended times for questions, poster sessions, and mixers that will give the attendees many opportunities to network and exchange scientific ideas,” he said.

AACR members are eligible for the discounted RRS member registration rate for this workshop. The AACR is also providing travel awards for up to six of the top abstracts submitted by AACR members.

In addition to this workshop, the AACR has several other radiation-focused initiatives lined up for 2018. For example, the FDA-AACR-ASTRO Workshop on Clinical Development of Drug-radiotherapy Combinations was held earlier this month. Subsequently, the AACR will again partner with the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) for a workshop dedicated to radiation oncology and the tumor microenvironment to be held in July. Continue to check the RSM Working Group website for updates on these and other programs as they are developed.

AACR members may join the AACR Radiation Science and Medicine Working Group by contacting [email protected]. In addition to the RSM Working Group, the AACR currently has six other scientific working groups focused on the fields of behavioral science, cancer immunology, chemistry, molecular epidemiology, pediatric cancer, and the tumor microenvironment. Visit the AACR’s website for more information on the programs and initiatives of these scientific working groups.