Virginia cancer experts convene for annual conference and research retreat
For the eighth year, oncology care providers and clinical cancer researchers from across the state gathered for VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Cancer Symposium and Clinical Research Affiliation Network Retreat. This year’s events were held on April 5 and 6 at the Hilton Hotel and Spa in Short Pump.
Friday’s symposium focused on the promising field of cancer immunotherapies and provided continuing education credits to attendees. Gordon Ginder, M.D., Massey’s director, welcomed the crowd of more than 80 before introducing Massey surgical oncologist and Walter Lawrence, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Oncology, Harry Bear, M.D., Ph.D. Bear presented on the latest advances in immunotherapy for breast cancer, and focused a portion of his talk on a clinical trial that will soon be open to Massey’s clinical research affiliates. Following Bear, Gary Simmons, D.O., deputy director of the Cellular Immunotherapies and Transplant Program at Massey, presented on CAR T-cell therapies and current and future cellular therapies at Massey.
The final, keynote presenter, Jason Luke, M.D., F.A.C.P., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, gave a talk on the role of the microbiome in immune responses. He discussed how the presence of certain gut bacteria impacted treatment responses in both animal models and patients. These findings could lead to potential biomarkers that help predict treatment responses and outcomes. Following Luke’s presentation, Charles Geyer, M.D., director of clinical research and Harrigan, Haw, Luck Families Chair in Cancer Research at Massey, thanked the crowd and provided closing remarks.
Saturday’s Clinical Research Affiliation Network Retreat provided an opportunity for Massey’s clinical research partners from across the state to learn about promising clinical trials and discuss administrative topics related to clinical research operations and collaborations. Massey’s Clinical Research Affiliation Network brings clinical trial offerings to six affiliated community hospital and oncology practices in order to expand access to clinical trials, increase participant enrollment and ultimately improve cancer care in Virginia and beyond. This year’s discussions focused on lung cancer clinical trials, Massey’s Phase 1 Clinical Trial Program, breast cancer studies and clinical trials for gastrointestinal cancers.
Every year, the clinical research affiliate who recruited the most patients to research studies is honored with an award. This year’s site with the most accrued patients was Centra Lynchburg Hematology-Oncology Clinic Inc. In addition, special recognition was given to Massey’s Affiliation Network Manager Wanda Hunt for her hard work and dedication to planning and hosting the symposium and retreat for the past eight years.
“Massey’s Clinical Research Affiliation Network is a vital component of our research mission. This conference has grown every year, and I want to thank all of our partners for their dedication to improving cancer care and access to cutting-edge clinical trials,” said Khalid Matin, M.D., medical director of community oncology and clinical research affiliations at Massey.