2011 Scholar Retreat – Summary

Senior Investigators
Kimberly Kelly, Ph.D., University of Virginia
Nabeel Bardeesy, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Craig Logsdon, MD, Ph.D., Anderson Cancer Center
J. Thomas Parsons, Ph.D., University of Virginia
Michael Jensen, MD, Center for Childhood Cancer Research Seattle

2007 Forbeck Scholars
Kristina Cole, MD, Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Jun Lu, Ph.D., Yale University
Carl Novina, MD, Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Andrea Ventura, MD, Ph.D., Sloan Kettering Institute

2008 Forbeck Scholars
Joshua Brody, MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Lili Yang, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
Russell Jones, Ph.D., McGille Cancer Center
Stefanie Sarantopoulous, MD, Ph.D., Duke University

2009 Forbeck Scholars
Clark C. Chen, Ph.D., University of California San Diego
Oliver Ayrault, Ph.D., Institute Curie
Chang-Hyuk Kwon, Ph.D., Ohio State University
Oren Becher, MD, Duke University

2010 Forbeck Scholars
Derek Y. Chiang, Ph.D., Novartis
Benjamin Berman, Ph.D., USC Epigenome Center
Sharon J. Diskin, Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Chris Putnam, Ph.D., Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

The 7th annual Forbeck Scholar retreat was held in Lake Geneva Wisconsin from September 15-18th. The meeting was a great mix of scholars honored with the award at the Hilton Head meetings from years 2007-2010 and mentors from various fields of cancer. Ensuring a lively discussion, both scholars and mentors adhered to the 5 slide format, allowing free flowing discussion, less formality, and a true think tank environment.

Due to the diverse interests of the groups of scholars as well as the mentors, topics such as imaging, signal transduction, and immunotherapy as well as micro RNAs in cancer, brain tumors, and mathematical analysis of the genome were presented. The opportunity to hear and discuss aspects of cancer that are outside of each of the participant’s fields of study is an invaluable experience and fosters many opportunities for collaboration and cross-fertilization essential for progress in the fight against cancer.

The meeting was organized by Kim Kelly, a 2005 scholar from the imaging cancer group. There were four other mentors, each with state of the art science programs, that were able to discuss not only outstanding science, but also important aspects of science such as running a laboratory and mentoring other scientists. Dr. Tom Parsons’ presentation focused on recent efforts to understand how the mechanical properties of the tumor microenvironment affect the biology of tumor cells. First time attendee, Dr. Parsons summed up the event by stating “This was an incredible environment for the exchange of ideas and an opportunity to see the outstanding potential of young researchers starting their careers in cancer”.

Invited back as a mentor due to his outstanding research accomplishments was Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy. Dr. Bardeesy discussed the identification of an epigenetic program that overrides cell differentiation and reprograms metabolism in advanced pancreatic cancers. Dr. Craig Logsdon presented his exciting findings on the oncogene Ras and potential underlying mechanisms of pathological Ras activity. Finally, Dr. Mike Jensen, who is a member of the scientific advisory board, discussed the potential to use the body’s own immune system as a therapy for cancer.

Besides the incredible mentoring and uninhibited discussions, the Blue Jean Ball is a highlight of the scholar retreat experience. The retreat was held again this year at the country club and scholars were shown the Lake Geneva on a cruise to the Ball. The informal mixing of scientists with friends, cancer survivors, family of survivors, volunteers, and Board Members is one of the unique experiences to this retreat.