Keynote Speakers

Sponsored by


Joshua Schiffman, MD

Presentation Title:  Elephants, dogs & cancer: Comparative oncology and the search for better therapeutics

Date/Time:  Thursday, October 14th  –  1:15 – 2:15 pm

Synopsis:  Elephants have been evolving for over 55 million years, including growing to a size greater than 100 times that of humans. In addition, elephants can live up to 70 years of age. With such increased cellular mass and extended longevity, nearly every elephant should succumb to cancer due to so many cells dividing for so often during their extended lifespan. Remarkably, elephants only develop cancer at the very low rate of less than 5%. This surprising natural protection from cancer in large and long-lived species like the elephant has been termed “Peto’s paradox.” Through genomic and functional studies, Dr. Schiffman and his colleagues discovered that elephants have evolved 40 copies (20 versions) of TP53 instead of the 2 copies (1 version) found in humans. TP53 has been called the Guardian of the Genome due to its ability to protect cells from turning into cancer through either DNA repair or cell death from apoptosis. Recent research by Dr. Schiffman’s team has shown that the extra copies of elephant p53 (EP53) work together in a unique fashion to trigger more robust apoptosis than human p53.

Dr. Joshua Schiffman is the CEO and Co-Founder of PEEL Therapeutics, delivering evolution-inspired medicine to patients.  Dr. Schiffman is also a Professor of Pediatrics and Investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.  He works as a Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Dr. Schiffman graduated from the Brown University School of Medicine in 2000, followed by clinical training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Stanford University from 2000-2008.  His academic research and now commercial efforts focus on cancer risk in children and studying animals that naturally are protected from cancer, like elephants.  Dr. Schiffman has co-founded several exciting new startup companies to impact cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.  


Dr. Karin Sorenmo, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology) and Dr. Susan Volk, VMD, PhD, DACVS

Presentation Title: From rescue to research: How saving homeless dogs can advance breast cancer research

Date/Time:  Saturday, October 16th  –  8:00 – 9:00 am

Synopsis:  Coming Soon!

About Dr. Sorenmo:  As a veterinary oncologist having worked in an academic institution for 3 decades her research interests and publications span across a relatively wide range of cancers, both in dogs and cats. Mammary tumors or breast cancer, however, has always been her main research interest and publications within this area represent her most significant part of her scientific contribution to the literature. During the last years of her active employment at The University of Pennsylvania her focus was directed towards running the PennVet Shelter Canine mammary tumor program for homeless dogs with mammary tumors and building a translational research network based on the resources made available through this program. Today with her co-presenter, Dr Susan Volk, she will share her findings; what she has learned about how these findings may shed light on the interactions between the tumor, estrogen, and the microenvironment.

About Dr. Volk:   Susan Volk VMD, PhD, DACVS is an Associate Professor of Small Animal Surgery (with tenure) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. As a veterinary surgeon-scientist, her laboratory is focused on developing innovative strategies through basic science discoveries which close clinical gaps in patient care, particularly when “the scalpel doesn’t cut it.” She has developed a research program focused on understanding dynamic reciprocity between cells and their surrounding extracellular matrix in both regenerative and tumor microenvironments. The success of her program capitalizes on her ability to lead a cross-disciplinary collaborative team capable of efficiently developing novel therapies for surgical and cancer patients, including her patented approach to reengineering the tumor microenvironment. This NIH, private foundation, and industry-sponsored research has basic and translational components, including clinical trials in veterinary patients.