Symposium bridges cancer research across Cornell

The second annual Intercampus Cancer Symposium, Oct. 11 at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, will highlight the wide range of cancer research taking place at Cornell’s Ithaca campus and at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

Cutting-edge cancer research at Cornell occurs across many different departments, colleges and the two campuses, yet historically there has not been a unified cancer research effort. The inaugural symposium, held in April 2018, showcased cancer research on Cornell’s Ithaca campus, and helped inform researchers from both campuses of the breadth of ongoing work.

The second symposium seeks to foster more interaction between cancer researchers in Ithaca and New York City by featuring speakers from both campuses.

“We have done pretty well over the last year to identify common interests and now is the time for us to leverage expertise from the two campuses to act on these interests more directly,” said Claudia Fischbach, professor of biomedical engineering and co-director of the Cornell Center on the Physics of Cancer Metabolism.

Cornell’s Ithaca campus has particular strengths in biology and the physical sciences, which allows researchers there to employ animal and engineering models of cancer, drug development approaches, state-of-the-art imaging, computational biology and cell biology to better understand the disease.

Meanwhile, researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine integrate basic biology, precision medicine, and translational research programs into new approaches for prevention, treatment and cure of cancer.

This year’s symposium will include four sessions, discussing: the tumor microenvironment; cancer modeling and analysis; drug discovery/delivery and cell therapy; and cancer cell biology. Each session will feature a mix of presentations from the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medicine.

There will be two keynote speakers: Carl June, director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, will discuss “Cell Therapy for Cancer;” and Stephen Quake, the Lee Otterson Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University and an Andrew D. White Professor-At-Large at Cornell University this semester, will deliver a talk titled “Dissecting Tumors with Genomics: What’s the Value for Patients?”

An American Cancer Society representative will lead a workshop on funding opportunities for registered junior faculty, trainees, postdoctoral researchers and staff. A poster session will feature a “People’s Choice Award” judged by community members, who will evaluate posters based on lay summaries presented by students.

The event will conclude with a panel discussion with university leaders on the state of cancer research at Cornell.

With the launch this year of the Cornell Center for Immunology, the many links between immunology and cancer will be a theme of this year’s symposium.

Leading faculty from Weill Cornell Medicine’s Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center – including Lewis Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Meyer Cancer Center and co-director of the Center on the Physics of Cancer Metabolism – and their trainees are scheduled to attend the event.

The symposium’s organizing committee includes Fischbach; Rick Cerione, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology; Ankur Singh, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Robert Weiss, professor of molecular genetics, from Cornell’s Ithaca campus, and Cantley; Julie Boyer, an associate research professor of molecular biology in medicine and associate director of administration at the Meyer Cancer Center; Steve Lipkin, professor of medicine; and Barry Sleckman, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and of microbiology and immunology, from Weill Cornell Medicine. 

By Krishna Ramanujan

A version of this story appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.