Keynote Speakers

Dr. Christopher Corless

Dr. Christopher Corless

Friday, October 27th – 8:00 am

Dr. Christopher Corless
Professor of Pathology
Executive Director & Chief Medical Officer
Knight Diagnostic Laboratories
Oregon Health & Science University

Topic: New Approaches to the Molecular Classification of Cancers

Recent advances in DNA sequencing technology are making their way into clinical laboratories, allowing a growing list of ‘actionable’ cancer-related genomic alterations to be identified in routine biopsy samples. This presentation will review these new technologies and how they are being applied in the analysis of DNA, as well as RNA, to guide the use of targeted cancer therapies and immuno-oncology drugs. In addition, novel approaches to examining the immune micro-environment of solid tumors will be discussed.


Susan Hedlund, LCSW

Susan Hedlund, LCSW

Friday, October 27th – 1:30 pm

Susan Hedlund, LCSW
Associate Professor, School of Medicine
Oregon Health & Sciences University
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Work
Portland State University

Topic:  When the Well Runs Dry: Cultivating Resilience When Experiencing Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

It is well known that oncology settings for both animals and people are stressful, and that staff are at risk for compassion fatigue and burnout. Exposure to suffering and loss can take its toll.

Often used interchangeably, the terms compassion fatigue and burnout have different qualities. Compassion fatigue is defined as an overexposure to suffering and pain that can cause personal stress and a reduced ability to be emphathic. For professional caregivers, this stress occurs from a wish to relieve suffering (Figley, 1995), but when work or personal stressors exceed the ability to cope, it can result in psychological and/or physical symptoms that can disrupt a person’s ability to function at work or in one’s personal life.

Burnout is defined as job-related stress with individuals feeling overworked, and can occur when work demands exceed available resources. Inadequate staffing and conflicts within the team can contribute to burnout, and burnout is characterized by persistent exhaustion, absences, a sense of inability to accomplish tasks, and loss of interest in work. (Masklach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001).

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help to alleviate both burnout and compassion fatigue. They include self-awareness, personal revival strategies, and building resilience. Resilience principles looks at ways to grow, expand, and refocus in our work and our personal lives. This interactive session will consider the impact of caring for others, how to recognize signs and symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as identifying strategies for cultivating resilience and self-care.

Susan Hedlund has been an oncology social worker for thirty years and specializes in the development and provision of psychosocial support services for people with cancer and their loved ones. Currently, she supervises adult oncology social workers at OHSU and coordinates wellness offerings of yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction, exercise, massage, and retreats for people with cancer. In addition, Ms. Hedlund facilitates monthly support meeting for Palliative Care Team at OHSU.
Ms. Hedlund previously directed the cancer counseling program at Cancer Care Resources (a program of the NW Cancer Specialists), and also directed the Palliative Care Program at Hospice and Palliative Care of Washington County.  She has spoken and written extensively about the impact of cancer on individuals and families, and on palliative and end of life care. She is a Senior Scholar for the Center for Ethics at OHSU and is a past-president of the Association of Oncology Social Work.  She also works with health care professionals to promote resilience, and attend to issues of compassion fatigue, grief, and burnout.


Dr. Daniel Promislow

Dr. Daniel Promislow

Saturday, October 28th – 8:00 am

Dr. Daniel Promislow
Professor, Department of Pathology and Biology
Associate Director, Institute for Publich Health Genetics
University of Washington

Topic:  The dog aging project:  An open science resource for cancer research

The domestic dog is the most phenotypically variable species in the world. Breeds vary dramatically not only in shape, size and behavior, but also in patterns of aging and age-related disease. As in humans, age appears to be an enormous risk factor for cancer in dogs, but so too is genotype. Thus, dogs present us with a tremendous opportunity to understand the genetic and environmental determinants of age-related disease. The overall goal of the Dog Aging Project is to create a nationwide long-term longitudinal study of aging in 10,000 companion dogs, spanning the full range of breed, size, sex, age, and socioeconomic status. By combining electronic veterinary medical records with client-provided information, and state of the art molecular data (genome, epigenome, metabolome, and microbiome), we have an unprecedented opportunity to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors of aging and age-related disease, and to understand the underlying mechanisms by which genes and the environment affect disease risk. Given that cancer is the single greatest cause of mortality in most dog breeds, the Dog Aging Project should shed enormous light on cancer risk. Importantly, all data collected by the Dog Aging Project will be made publicly available, creating a powerful research resource for the veterinary community. Moreover, by engaging dog owners in the research process as ‘citizen scientists’, we can enhance public excitement in the process of science, and in the ability of research on companion dogs to teach us not only about our best friend, but also about ourselves.

Dr. Promislow is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, where he studies the basic biology of aging. He also serves as Associate Director of the UW Institute for Public Health Genetics in the School of Public Health. He is the Founding Director of the Canine Longevity Consortium, and co-Director of the Dog Aging Project. His other UW affiliations include the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, the eScience Institute, the Harborview Injury Prevention Research Center, and the Institute for Translational Health Sciences. Dr. Promislow is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.