Sanford-Burnham Cancer Program Retreat

By Susan Gammon, Ph.D.
December 17, 2013

On December 12-13, 2013, Sanford-Burnham investigators held court at the Ritz-Carton in Laguna Niguel, Calif., to share their latest discoveries and chart the future of our Cancer Center, one of seven National Cancer Institute-designated basic research centers in the U.S.

The event was attended by more than 48 scientists, with 18 presentations—including an overview of Sanford-Burnham’s 10-year strategic vision presented by Garth Powis, Ph.D., professor and director of the Cancer Center.

A key theme of the retreat was how the Institute will continually reinforce an environment that fosters interaction among key stakeholders. With our commitment to excellent science, we will attract partners in research, biopharmaceutical companies, government, clinicians, and patients to “discover” in an evolving model of financing research.

Sanford-Burnham scientists at a break-out session

Sanford-Burnham scientists at a break-out session

Brainstorming break-out sessions on how we can facilitate collaborations to reduce redundancies, maximize the most promising technologies for research, and how to drive discoveries to the critical stage of clinical testing were all part of the agenda.

Malene Hansen, Ph.D.

Malene Hansen, Ph.D.

A special presentation on “Cancer genes, innovative drugs, and defeating cancer: science and strategy” was presented by Paul Workman, Ph.D., director of the Cancer Therapeutics Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research, UK. Dr. Workman leads the signal transduction and molecular pharmacology team at the institute, and has discovered 16 cancer drug candidates.

Dr. Workman described the multi-disciplinary approach—biological, chemical, and clinical—behind the advance of a cancer drug that blocks heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), currently in development with Novaritis. His work emphasizes the need to incorporate multiple disciplines to progress drug candidates to clinical testing.

Participants at the retreat also heard from cancer survivor Dani Grady, a member of Sanford-Burnham’s Community Advisory Board, and her medical oncologist, Daniel Vicario, M.D. Jointly, they described the importance of bridging discovery research with clinical research that ultimately improves the outcome and survival of cancer patients.

Dani’s experience with cancer and her confidence in the process of drug discovery has fueled her devotion to support Sanford-Burnham’s quest, “From research, the power to cure.”   

The meeting was organized by Tariq Rana, Ph.D., professor in the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center and the RNA Biology Program; and Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D., professor in the NCI-Designated Cancer Center and the Apoptosis and Cell Death Research Program at Sanford-Burnham.

P.S. did I mention the cake?


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Susan Gammon, Ph.D.

Susan is editor of Communications at SBP.


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