May 12, 2021

AACR second session to feature Vanderbilt researchers

The second session of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual meeting, May 17-21, features several researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

The second session of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual meeting, May 17-21, features several researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Alissa Weaver, MD, PhD, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, will speak about “extracellular vesicles in tumor angiogenesis and metastasis.” Her lab focuses on how cancer cells spread to distant organs from their original site and acquire an invasive phenotype that can move through tissue barriers then survive and grow. Her presentation will be about the complex subpopulations of extracellular vesicles and the multilevel intercellular communications in cancer. The composition and function of extracellular vesicles remains largely uncharacterized, limiting their potential as biomarkers, therapeutic targets and drug delivery vehicles.

Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, will be a panelist for a session on the “Use of Liquid Biopsies in Identifying Minimal Residual Disease in Solid Tumors in the Adjuvant Setting.” The discussion will explore the possibility of using circulating tumor DNA as a prognostic biomarker to identify patients with early-stage cancers that are at high risk for metastasizing. The presence of circulating DNA in blood specimens or other body fluids — liquid biopsies—- may be a means to distinguish which cancer patients require more intensive treatment and avoiding overtreatment of patients who don’t. Park, an expert on breast cancer genetics and precision drug therapy, is researching liquid biopsies.

Andreana Holowatyj, PhD, MSCI, assistant professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, is an invited speaker at a forum that focuses on “In Transition: From Early-career Researcher to Leader.” Holowatyj has a record of leadership within AACR, having participated in the inaugural AACR Early-Career Hill Day in Washington, D.C, in 2016 and having served as a panelist in 2017 for the AACR Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill. She was elected to the organization’s Associate Member Council to a three-year term beginning in 2018. She was one of 16 early-career scientists worldwide selected as 2019 AACR NexGen Stars. She will provide early-career guidance to other early-career researchers during the discussion.

Henry Henderson III, PhD, who was a postdoctoral research fellow in hematology and oncology from May 2019 to March 2021, will be a panelist about the FDA-AACR Oncology Educational Fellowship. He was a member of the 2020-2021 inaugural class of fellows. The fellowship is a joint initiative of the Oncology Center of Excellence at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the AACR. The program is designed to promote scientific progress through the exchange of knowledge in oncology education, collaborative learning and research.

The first session of the annual conference, April 10-15, also featured speakers from Vanderbilt. Several other researchers authored abstracts on clinical trials, epidemiology, health disparities, molecular biology and other cancer research topics.