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Important Strategies for Success in Cancer Science: Keys for Early-stage Investigators

Monday, May 17, 11:45 am-1:15 pm ET

Organized as a collaborative effort between the Associate Member Council (AMC), Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council, and the AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, we are excited to offer this unique opportunity for new investigators at the junior faculty/equivalent level to learn skills and strategies for addressing questions that can affect their success in the first independent leadership position. Designed specifically for those who have already made the transition from trainee to the next career stage inside and outside academia, this is a must-attend session for all early-stage investigators.


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Pre-registration is required and exclusively to AACR Virtual Annual Meeting 2021 registrants.


Session Co-Chairs:

Angelo De Marzo, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland  

Jose G. Treviño, III, MD, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia 

This session will include an interactive panel discussion and will provide a unique opportunity for new investigators at the junior faculty/equivalent level to learn skills and strategies for addressing questions that can affect their success in the first independent leadership position. Designed specifically for those who have already made the transition from trainee to the next career stage inside and outside academia, this is a must-attend session for early-stage investigators. 

2021 Participating Senior Scientist

Monica Bertagnolli, MD

Monica Bertagnolli, MD

Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Bertagnolli is the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in the Field of Surgical Oncology at Harvard Medical School, and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, where she collaborates with colleagues in medical oncology, radiation oncology, and pathology to treat cancer patients in a tertiary care setting. She trained in surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was a research fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DF/BWCC). Dr. Bertagnolli has a background in laboratory work focusing upon understanding the role of the inflammatory response in epithelial tumor formation. From 1994-2011, she led gastrointestinal correlative science initiatives within the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded Cancer Cooperative Groups, where she facilitated integration of tumor-specific molecular markers of treatment outcome into nation-wide clinical cancer treatment protocols. From 2007-2018, she served as the Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at DF/BWCC. Dr. Bertagnolli has had numerous leadership roles in multi-institutional cancer clinical research consortia, and currently serves as the Group Chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a nation-wide NCI-funded clinical trials group. She is also the Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Foundation Trials, LLC, a not-for-profit corporation that conducts international cancer clinical trials.

Keywords: clinical trials

Amy E. Moran, PhD

Amy E. Moran, PhD

Assistant Professor

Oregon Health & Science University

Portland, Oregon

Dr. Moran earned her PhD in Microbiology, Cancer Biology, and Immunology from the University of Minnesota where she trained with Dr. Kristin Hogquist revealing how T cell receptor signal strength was critical for lineage fate decisions during development. She conducted post-doctoral training at the Earle A Chiles Research Institute investigating mechanisms of action of OX40 agonism in solid tumors. She was recruited by Dr. Lisa Coussens in 2017 and joined the Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology at Oregon Health & Science University.

Today, her research focuses on how sex hormones regulate T cell function within mouse and human primary and metastatic tumors. Her group utilizes a variety of tools to interrogate these fundamental and translational questions including transgenic and chimeric mouse models, in vivo tumor modeling, in vitro cellular assays, monoclonal antibodies, and small molecules as cancer therapeutics, single-cell ‘omics, and flow sorting and cytometry. She partners with clinicians and bioinformaticists and trains graduate students and postdocs within her laboratory with an overall goal of moving benchtop discoveries back into the clinic for the care of patients with advanced prostate cancer.

As scientists, we too often rely on external metrics (grant scores, journal impact factors, etc) to define success. I have found that success is being at peace with myself and where I am at on the journey.

Keywords: translational immunotherapy, prostate cancer, T cells, sex hormones

Avrum Spira, MD, MSc

Avrum Spira, MD, MSc

Global Head, Lung Cancer Initiative

Johnson & Johnson

Boston, Massachusetts

Avrum “Avi” Spira, M.D., M.S.C. is the Global Head of the Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) and World Without Disease Accelerator (WWDA) at Johnson & Johnson which is developing solutions to prevent, intercept and cure lung cancer. Practicing medicine for more than 20 years, Dr. Spira leads a team of dedicated scientists and medical professionals focused on developing novel technologies and approaches for earlier lung cancer detection and treatment as well extending this interception paradigm to other disease.

In addition to leading the Johnson & Johnson Lung Cancer Initiative, Dr. Spira is an attending physician in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston University—Boston Medical Center (BMC) and is a Professor of Medicine, Bioinformatics and Pathology at Boston University. He also serves as the Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship at Boston University. He has served as the Director of the Boston University-BMC Cancer Center and founding Chief of the Division of Computational Biomedicine at Boston University.

Dr. Spira obtained his MD from McGill University in Montreal, completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Toronto, and his fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at BMC. During his fellowship, he obtained a master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Boston University.

Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, MD, PhD

Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, MD, PhD

Professor of Oncology

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Dr.Dr. Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian is a Professor of Oncology, Pathology, and Radiation Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. In addition, he also serves as the Director of the SKCCC Next Generation Sequencing Center Laboratory, and as co-Director of the SKCCC Experimental and Computational Genomics Core. He received his Bachelors of Science and Engineering at Duke University before earning his joint M.D./Ph.D. degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has served on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine since 2006. Dr. Yegnasubramanian currently directs a laboratory focused on cancer epigenetics, with an emphasis on prostate cancer and genomics technologies. His research focuses on understanding genetic and epigenetic alterations in carcinogenesis and disease progression, and on using this understanding for development of novel biomarkers and therapeutic strategies for cancer care. Dr. Yegnasubramanian has received numerous awards recognizing his research, including the V Foundation Martin D. Abeloff V Scholar Award and the Prostate Cancer Foundation Challenge Award. Dr. Yegnasubramanian has co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, holds multiple patents, serves on the steering committee for JHU-industry partnerships, and is a co-founder of Brahm Astra Therapeutics, which is focused on development of novel cancer drugs.

It has been the privilege of my career to be able to work with amazing multi-disciplinary teams of scholars to try and tackle the major challenges in cancer medicine through research and innovation.

Keywords: cancer epigenetics, genomics technologies, prostate cancer