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Final Agenda 


Cancer Molecular Markers 

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Download Brochure 

Recommended Pre-Conference Short Courses *  

(SC1) Finding a Safe Passage through the Quagmire of High Throughput Screening-Based Biomarker Discovery   

(SC6) Applying Next-Generation Sequencing Technologies to Research: Introduction to New Technologies and Application in Research   

(SC8) Smarter Studies: Designing Efficient and Rigorous Molecular Diagnostics and Biomarker Studies   


* Separate Registration Required. 


Wednesday, February 23 

7:00 am Registration and Morning Coffee

8:00 Plenary Keynotes - Details 

9:40 Grand Opening Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall


KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: Key Pathways in Cancer 

11:00 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks 

John McDonaldJohn McDonald, Ph.D., Professor, Biology, CSO, Ovarian Cancer Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology 




11:10 The Paradigm of Targeted Drugs for the Treatment of Cancer: Inhibiting the BCR-ABL Pathway in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Paul ManleyPaul W. Manley, Ph.D., Executive Director, Oncology Department, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research

In the 10 years that imatinib has been approved for the treatment of CML, the natural history of the disease has been transformed and we have learned much about targeting the BCR-ABL oncogenic signaling pathway that has also been translatable to other malignancies.


11:40 Future of Pathway-Driven Therapies

Neil GibsonNeil W. Gibson, Ph.D., CSO, Pfizer Oncology


12:10 pm Personalizing Cancer Care – In Search of Durable Responses 

David HeimbrookDavid C. Heimbrook, Ph.D., Global Head of Discovery Oncology, Pharma Research and Early Development, Roche

The recent successes of targeted therapies highlight both the opportunities and the challenges of personalizing cancer care. The combination of diagnostic tools with targeted agents can provide dramatic patient benefits, but improving the durability of clinical responses requires juxtaposition of clinical and pre-clinical studies to address the underlying disease biology. The opportunity provided by this paradigm is exemplified by our ongoing studies with RG7204, an inhibitor of V600E-BRAF.

Sponsored by
12:40 Luncheon Presentation
Contextual Drug Discovery and Development via High-Content Analysis of Cellular Networks

John K. Westwick, Ph.D., President and CEO, Odyssey Thera, Inc.

We have developed an integrated paltform comprised of a diverse panel of live cell, protein complex-based high-content signal transduction assays, semi-automated cell culture, automated liquid handling, high throughput automated confocal microscopy, and the requisite automated image analysis, IT infrastructure and data mining capabilities. This platform enables system-wide signaling analysis and definition of compound mechanisms, selectivity and safety. The technology platform has been validated to expedite success rates of preclinical drug discovery and development programs.

1:10 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Available) or Lunch on Your Own

1:45 Dessert in the Exhibit Hall



2:15 Chairperson’s Remarks

Josip Blonder, M.D., SAIC-Frederick, INC, NCI-Frederick

2:20 Solid Tumor Heterogeneity: From Tissue Proteomics to Personalized Medicine

Donald J. Johann, Jr., M.D., Associate Investigator, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Solid tumor heterogeneity is a perplexing scientific and clinical problem. Tissue based proteomic approaches utilizing identity-based mass spectrometry and laser capture microdissection, may serve as a platform allowing enhanced molecular profiling, and the revealing of subtle solid tumor phenotypes.

2:50 Proteomic Profiling of Clinical Specimens in the Context of Cancer Biomarker Discovery and Validation

Josip Blonder Josip Blonder, M.D., Senior Research Scientist, Head, Clinical Proteomics, Laboratory of Proteomics and Analytical Technologies, SAIC-Frederick, Inc., NCI-Frederick

This presentation will highlight a variety of technological approaches utilized in clinical proteomics of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and summarize respective biological findings in the context of RCC biomarker discovery and validation.


3:20 Clinical Application of Tumor Genotyping to Drive Clinical Trials and Translational Research

Leif Ellisen, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Executive Director, MGH Cancer Center, Translational Research Laboratory; Associate Professor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Analysis of tumor somatic genetic abnormalities has provided key insights into cancer pathogenesis, signaling, and oncogene dependence. We describe the development and validation of a prospective (pre-treatment), broad-based solid tumor mutation detection platform and its application for clinical decision making, clinical trial enrollment and translational research.

3:50 Sponsored Presentations (Opportunities Available)

4:20 Reception in the Exhibit Hall (Sponsorship Available) 

5:20 Break-Out Discussions in the Exhibit Hall

Concurrent Problem Solving Break-Out Sessions are interactive, problem solving discussions hosted by a moderator to discuss a topic in depth.  The discussions are open to all attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers and provide a forum for discussing key issues and meeting potential partners.

microRNAs for Cancer Treatment Decision Making

Moderator: Glen Weiss, M.D., Director, Thoracic Oncology, VGPCC, Scottsdale Healthcare; Co-Head, Lung Cancer Unit, TGen

  • What are the first clinical applications that microRNAs will be used for? 
  • What barriers need to be overcome to more widely implement microRNAs for cancer treatment decision making? 
  • Can biofluids supplant tumor tissue derived microRNAs for treatment decision making? 
  • Could microRNAs be used for both cancer treatment decision making and treatment? 

Techniques for Characterization of CTCs 

Moderator: Richard Cote, M.D., FRCPath, Professor and Chair, Pathology; Directory , University of Miami Biomedical Nanoscience Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine 

  • What are the current challenges and opportunities in techniques for characterizing CTC? 
  • What are the critical characteristics needed for characterizing circulating tumor cells? 
  • How should CTC characterization be included in designing clinical trials? 

Molecular Profiling of CTCs 

Moderator: Dave S.B. Hoon, Ph.D., Director, Molecular Oncology, John Wayne Cancer Institute 

  • CTC Isolation approaches for quality and consistent detailed analysis of molecular phenotypes 
  • How representative are the CTCs to patients’ tumor burden? 
  • How relevant are the CTC profile to patient disease outcome and clinical stage? 
  • Techniques useful for amplying DNA/RNA for small number of CTC 
  • When is the most relevant period during patient treatment should we profile CTCs? 

Techniques for Characterization of CTCs 

Moderator: Klaus Pantel, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Institute of Tumor Biology, UKE, Hamburg, Germany 

  • Proteins (Multiple immunostainings, EpiSpot) 
  • RNA (RT-PCR, expression profiling) 
  • DNA (FISH, PCR, whole genome amplification, array-CGH) 

Microfluidics for Selection and Enumeration of CTCs 

Moderator: Steven Soper, Ph.D., Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering, Center for BioModular Multi-Scale Systems, Louisiana State University 

  • Are the enumeration numbers from the Veridex CellSearch System actually the “TRUE” numbers of CTC frequencies found in peripheral blood of cancer patients? 
  • What is the GOLD STANDARD; while the FDA has approved the Veridex System, does this really supply the actual numbers of CTCs found in patients? 
  • Is seeding cell lines into “normal” blood viewed as a good standard for evaluating the development/performance of new technologies? 
  • Is there a need to interrogate larger input volumes, especially if the Veridex System significantly underestimates the “TRUE” number of CTCs in a patient? 
  • If no GOLD standards exists for CTC enumeration, how are new technologies going to make it through the FDA approval process? 
  • If the actual CTC numbers are higher than those set by the Veridex system, then is it reasonable to consider using CTCs as a diagnostic marker as well? 
  • Is recovery and enumeration the only processes that warrant transitioning to microfluidics? 
  • What about molecular profiling of CTCs using integrated systems that can recover the CTCs from clinical samples and then perform a molecular assay? 
  • Morphological investigation of the CTCs may be important as well as looking for expression levels of certain markers to distinguish them from interfering cells (normal epithelial cells or WBCs). How can this be done without requiring sophisticated imaging equipment needed for imaging the entire selection bed? 
  • What about the ability to culture the recovered CTCs for doing follow-up discovery-based investigations (do the cells remain viable following microfluidic selection)? 
  • Costs of CTC recovery and enumeration per assay; what can/should microfluidics do to address this issue? 
  • If the microfluidic is to be used for large-scale screening or monitoring for disease recurrence, the cost of the chip must be reduced to make this feasible. What is a viable cost per assay and what about the supporting peripherals to expand the utility of using this biomarker in the clinic? 
  • For diagnostics and prognostics, one-time use devices are critical; should this guide the engineering of the microfluidic system? 
  • What are important metrics for guiding the development and marketing new technologies; recovery (in a variety of different scenarios), simplicity of use, cost, or functionality (do more than just enumerate the CTCs)? 
  • What about the recovery and enumeration of cancer stem cells? 
  • Markers (positive selection), size selection, abundance, etc? 
  • Utility of collecting cancer stem cells 
  • Transitioning these new microfluidic technologies (for rare cell selection) into other target areas 
  • Fetal nucleated red blood cells for molecular profiling unborn fetuses 
  • Bacterial infections 

Modeling and Targeting of the Mesenchymal –Epitheilal Transition (MET) & EMT

Moderator: Fredika M. Robertson, PhD., Professor, Experimental Therapeutics; Director, Translational Research, The Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program, The University of Texas M.D., Anderson Cancer Center

  • Signatures of EMT, MET, and Tumor Plasticity
  • Approaches to Block Metastasis by Targeting EMT and MET
  • MicroRNAs regulating EMT and MET: Potential uses as biomarkers and therapeutics
  • Challenges in Identifying Targeted Therapeutics to Block MET vs EMT

Challenges of Targeting Cancer Stem Cells

Moderator: Norman J. Maitland, Ph.D., CSO, Procure Therapeutics Ltd.

  • Approaches to the identification and evaluation of new cancer stem cell targets
  • Payloads that overcome the enhanced resistance of cancer stem cells
  • Potential safety issues
  • Strategy for entering clinical trials

Cost/Benefit Ratio of New Treatments for Cancer

Moderator: Theresa M. Allen, Ph.D., Division Chair, Drug Delivery, Centre for Drug Research & Development; Professor Emeritus, Pharmacology & Oncology, University of Alberta

  • Are the costs beginning to exceed the benefits? Are these costs limiting access? Will this prevent their approval or sales in countries other than the USA?
  • What would be an appropriate balance between the costs and benefits of new therapies: Are there guidelines for this? Should there be guidelines?
  • Improved quality of life is often not incorporated into cost/benefit analyses. How could this be approached?

6:20 Close of Day

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