How Science Is Revolutionizing Our Approach to Breast Cancer
Report from the 2011 Palm Beach Symposium and Luncheon
On February 7th, the Eighth Annual Hot Pink Luncheon and Symposium took place at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. After lunch, guests were treated to a scintillating Symposium entitled How Science Is Revolutionizing Our Approach to Breast Cancer
, moderated by BCRF Scientific Director, Larry Norton, MD, Deputy Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and featuring four of the world's leading breast cancer experts. The event raised over $430,000, thanks in large part to generous underwriting from The Braver Philanthropic Fund, Credit Suisse, The Sol Goldman Charitable Trust, Evelyn & Leonard Lauder, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Neiman Marcus, and Barbara & Randall Smith. Thanks to the leadership of Co-Chairmen Donna Acquavella, Sandra Krakoff, Evelyn Lauder, Hillie Mahoney, Pauline Pitt, Patricia Quick, Hilary Geary Ross, Frances Scaife and Judith Schlager, the event was the most successful to date, raising almost $100,000 over the 2010 total. A kick-off Super Bowl party celebrating the underwriters and event leadership was hosted by the Lauders on February 6th.
(seated,left to right: Clifford Hudis, MD; Nadine Tung, MD; Tan Ince, MD, PhD; Edith Perez, MD. Standing, left to right: Myra Biblowit, BCRF President; Larry Norton, MD, Chairman, BCRF Executive Board of Scientific Advisors; Evelyn Lauder, BCRF Founder & Chairman; Peg Mastrianni, BCRF Deputy Director
"A hallmark of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is making research accessible to patients, translating research advances into practice," said Dr. Norton as he introduced a discussion on How Science is Revolutionizing Our Approach to Breast Cancer. The panel of experts whose discussion he moderated represented a broad sampling of the research that BCRF supports.
The panelists spoke briefly about their work and the impact that BCRF has made. Edith Perez, MD, who directs the Breast Cancer Program at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, described her research on developing targeted treatments. "It is revolutionary that we can now study tumors through sophisticated molecular and genetic analysis." She outlined the exciting further work ahead: "we need to understand the molecular pathways better and develop new clinical trials based on that new understanding."
Tan Ince, MD, PhD, formerly a BCRF grantee in Boston and now at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, said that "BCRF makes the impossible possible," as he spoke about the scientific advance in his own work and the potential of helping oncologists match breast cancer patients with the most effective therapies for their specific tumor types. "Ten years ago, when I began my research, we didn't have ways to examine growing human cancers in the laboratory. Now I have been able to grow 25 different patient tumors in the lab in order to understand how they grow and how they differ from each other," said Dr. Ince.
Nadine Tung, MD, who directs the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, expanded on the importance of BCRF support. "BCRF has opened up new collaborations… I'm trying to answer the question of why more women with BRCA1 mutations who develop breast cancer get estrogen receptor-negative disease. And conversely, why are BRCA2 tumors usually fed by estrogen? Studying BRCA1 and BCRA2 offers clues to all of breast cancer and can help us devise prevention strategies."
Following a lively question-and-answer session which included discussion about whether there are vaccines on the horizon and whether anti-angiogenesis drugs work, Dr. Norton said, "We need scientific models in the laboratory to study important, complex questions like these, and then to move them into clinical trials. Fortunately, with BCRF support, we have such models and are using them to make progress."