Keynote Speakers

Dr. JP Shen

Topic:  Combinatorial CRISPR-Cas9 screens for de novo mapping of genetic interactions
Date/Time:  Friday, October 19th  8:00-9:00 am

The current treatment of solid tumors is limited by both a lack of targeted therapies, and a lack of diagnostic tests to help oncologists identify the best chemotherapy for an individual patient. To address these needs we are utilizing high-throughput functional genomic screens to identify specific, targetable vulnerabilities in cancer cell lines and primary tumors. This strategy has been made possible by recent advances in genome editing technology now allowing for the knockout of pairs of genes in high-throughput, enabling thousands of genetic interactions to be tested simultaneously. Recognizing that cancer is a tremendously heterogeneous disease, these vulnerability screens are conducted in extensively molecularly profiled models, so that once the specific vulnerabilities of each tumor are identified, systems biology and machine-learning techniques can be used to link these vulnerabilities to molecular features, identifying biomarkers to predict which patients will respond to that specific therapy.

JP Shen is a physician-scientist with a scientific background in chemical biology and cancer genomics and is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Oncology. Currently holding the title Clinical Instructor, Shen has been a member of the Ideker lab since 2011, with a research focus in the application of both experimental and computational systems biology techniques, in particular genetic interaction networks, to investigate cancer biology. The ultimate goal of this work is to translate new knowledge of the cancer cell into improved outcomes in clinical oncology.

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Dr. Andrew Godwin

Topic:  Liquid gold in precision medicine: Liquid-based biopsies for cancer detection and monitoring
Date/Time:  Friday, October 19th  1:30 – 2:30 pm

A liquid biopsy is a minimally or non-invasive technology that detects molecular biomarkers in the bloodstream or other bodily fluids without the need for costly or invasive procedures. These tests offer considerable potential in oncology, which includes early detection of cancer, treatment and recurrence monitoring, and as surrogates for traditional biopsies. A single liquid biopsy can offer the opportunity to systematically track genomic evolution. Liquid biopsy biomarkers include circulating tumor cells (CTCs), cell-free DNA (cfDNA), and extracellular vesicles (EVs). CTCs are known to have prognostic significance in various different tumor types, e.g., metastatic breast, metastatic castration-resistant prostate, and metastatic colorectal. cfDNA result from the release of dead tumor cells or fragments engulfed by phagocytes and processed into small nucleic acid fragments, which are then released into the bloodstream. A number of highly sensitive methods have been developed to detect aberrations found in circulating tumor DNA. EVs are nano-sized vesicles of endocytic origin also known as exosomes, which are produced and released by most cells types under normal physiologic and in diseased states. Exosomes are informative biological molecules that carry cargo representative of their originating cell including nucleic acids, cytokines, membrane-bound receptors, and a wide assortment of other, biologically active lipids and proteins. This cargo remains functional upon entry or fusion with a recipient cell. Thus, exosomal transfer is now considered an important form of intercellular communication in normal and pathological states such as cancer. Ways to exploit CTCs, cfDNA, and exosomes for cancer diagnostics and prognosis and the use of miniaturized biomedical assays will be discussed.

Dr. Andrew K. Godwin, Ph.D., Director of Molecular Oncology at the Kansas University Medical Center will review the promise and current applications of circulating tumor cell technologies (liquid biopsies) and whether they will allow for earlier diagnosis of small tumors, provide crucial evidence regarding drug resistance, or determine at a point where that resistance is reversible.

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Dr. Katherine Goldberg

Topic:  Moving upstream: Transformative oncology practice through a palliative care lens
Date/Time:  Saturday, October 20th  8:00 – 9:00 am

Veterinary oncologists work in a system which is both enriching and emotionally taxing, fulfilling and full of stress. The ethical terrain of veterinary medicine, legal status of animals, and economic realities of the profession provide a framework which is challenging for clinicians, who seek to balance patient and client best interests while optimizing care delivery. Palliative medicine has the potential to transform oncology practice, catalyzing a “triple win” – for patients, clients, and veterinary teams as goal-concordant care is more completely realized. This presentation will draw from human palliative medicine and key findings from the literature in its discussion of the palliative lens as an upstream initiative in our management of seriously ill veterinary patients.

Katherine Goldberg has dedicated her professional life to human-animal relationships in veterinary environments. A dual professional in both veterinary medicine and social work, she seeks to bridge the two professions in order to optimize care of patients, clients and veterinary teams. In all areas of her work, Dr. Goldberg continues to explore the ethics of intensive care for animals, the impact of critical veterinary illness on family dynamics, and the veterinary profession’s role in animal death & dying. She is committed to developing palliative medicine within the veterinary profession, emphasizing scholarship and academic rigor as essential for success.  A passionate upstreamist, Dr. Goldberg strives to examine the contextual features and cultural artifacts of veterinary practice which impact patient outcomes and human wellbeing. 

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