The Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO is committed to supporting the research and career development of young researchers through its Grants & Awards Program. In October 2017, Conquer Cancer hosted its third Scientific and Career Development Retreat at ASCO Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. This 2-day event encouraged networking and collaboration among Conquer Cancer grant recipients, and provided attendees the opportunity to learn from and interact with speakers on several career development topics. Attendees included Career Development Award (CDA) and Young Investigator Award (YIA) recipients awarded between 2011 and 2017, ASCO and Conquer Cancer leadership and staff, as well as distinguished speakers and guests, some of whom are past Conquer Cancer grant recipients.
The retreat began on the evening of October 11 with a networking reception and dinner. Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, Chief Executive Officer of ASCO and Conquer Cancer, opened the program with an informative introduction to ASCO, CancerLinQ, and the Conquer Cancer Foundation. The evening continued with an insider’s perspective on ASCO’s Leadership Development Program (LDP), from LDP graduate Christina Annunziata, MD, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Annunziata discussed the highlights of her experience in the program and how it has enhanced her career.
Conquer Cancer Grants Selection Committee Chair Sarat Chandarlapaty, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, opened the second day of the retreat and presented awards to the highest-ranking abstracts submitted to the retreat as determined by the Conquer Cancer Grants Selection Executive Committee: 2015 YIA recipient Kara Maxwell, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and 2016 YIA recipient Victoria Wang, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco. The morning continued with an insightful keynote address given by Darren Feldman, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Feldman emphasized the importance of finding a good mentor, learning to say ‘no,’ and balancing work and family life. Jamie Holloway, PhD, of Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates, discussed the role of a patient advocate and the value in working with a patient advocate to strengthen grant applications. The morning also included oral and poster presentations, allowing attendees the opportunity to share their unpublished research with peers.
In the afternoon, attendees benefited from three breakout sessions focused on career development. In the first session, which was geared toward topics in industry, Phillip Febbo, MD, of Genomic Health, discussed the transition from academia to industry, and Peter Hammerman, MD, PhD, of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, provided information on how to interface with industry. During the second session, geared toward career advice, Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP, FASCO, of Georgetown University Medical Center, gave important advice on managing clinical and research responsibilities, and ASCO President Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FASCO, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discussed the process of negotiating a contract and securing a mentor. During the final session, which focused on assisting attendees with grant writing, William D. Merritt, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, discussed the National Institutes of Health grant application process, and Christopher Lao, MD, of the University of Michigan Medical School, gave insight into the Conquer Cancer CDA application and review process from his unique perspective as a CDA recipient and former member of the Conquer Cancer Grants Selection Committee.
The 2018 Scientific and Career Development Retreat will be held on October 10–11, 2018, at ASCO Headquarters. Abstract submission—which is by invitation only—will open in May 2018. ■
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