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Understanding Genomics and Genetic Testing in Cancer Immunotherapy

Above all, cancer is a disease of mutations. Some of these are inherited, while others are acquired throughout an individual’s life. While these mutations drive the tumor growth and survival, they may also holds the key to cures for more patients. In addition to guiding decisions regarding existing treatments, the mutated proteins that arise from genetic mutations can also serve as targets for the immune system and personalized immunotherapy strategies.

In this webinar for patients and caregivers, Corrie Painter, Ph.D., and Eliezer Van Allen, M.D., discuss the current state of genetic testing for cancer patients in the clinic as well as highlight efforts to tap into the full potential of genome-based medicine.

Corrie painter, Ph.D.A former CRI fellow from 2012-2015, Dr. Corrie Painter (@Corrie_Painter) is currently the associate director of operations and scientific outreach in the Cancer Program of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She leads the Angiosarcoma Project, a nationwide direct-to-patient genomics initiative aimed at generating the genomic landscape of this orphan disease, and she is working to build scientific resources to enable broad-scale rare cancer research across many cancer types. A trained cancer researcher with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Painter serves as the associate director of Count Me In, which launches patient-driven research projects across multiple cancer types. In this role, she partners with advocacy groups and engages patients with metastatic breast cancer, angiosarcoma, and other cancers through social media in order to carry out the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, the Angiosarcoma Project, and other patient-driven genomic initiatives where patients can consent online to donate their stored tumor samples, saliva samples, medical records, and their voices in order to directly accelerate the pace of discovery.

Prior to joining the Broad Institute in 2015, Painter was vice president and cofounder of Angiosarcoma Awareness Inc., a nonprofit devoted to fostering a collaborative atmosphere between researchers in order to generate data and reagents that can be shared by the sarcoma community as a whole. She continues in this role alongside her work at the Broad Institute.

Eliezer Van Allen, M.D.Dr. Eliezer Van Allen (@VanAllenLab) is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a clinician at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care, and an associate member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His research focuses on computational cancer genomics, the application of new molecular profiling technologies to advance precision cancer medicine, and studying resistance to cancer therapeutics. As both a computational biologist and medical oncologist, he has specific expertise in clinical computational oncology and the development of algorithms to analyze and interpret genomic data for clinically focused questions. Overall, his research will make important contributions to the field of precision cancer medicine and resistance to targeted therapeutics via expertise and study in translational and clinical bioinformatics.

Previously, he studied Symbolic Systems at Stanford University, obtained his M.D. from UCLA, and completed a residency in internal medicine at UCSF before coming to Boston and completing a medical oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care program.

The "Cancer Immunotherapy and You" webinar series is produced by the Cancer Research Institute and is hosted by our science writer, Arthur Brodsky, Ph.D. The 2020 series is made possible with generous support from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Alkermes, and Foundation Medicine.
Browse our Cancer Immunotherapy and You Webinar Series playlist on YouTube or visit the Webinars page on our website to see other webinars in this series.

Bristol-Myers Squibb; Alkermes; Foundation Medicine

I'm making a future where cancer patients partner with scientists to accelerate discoveries that will drive cancer immunology. -Dr. Corrie Painter, CRI Scientist

*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.