The Cancer Research Institute 2018 Immunotherapy Patient Summit Series had an amazing kick off in San Francisco on June 30, 2018. Over 200 patients, caregivers, and advocates gathered for a day of learning, sharing, and networking alongside experts in cancer immunotherapy.
The day opened with a presentation given by Lewis Lanier, Ph.D., the J. Michael Bishop MD Distinguished Professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who spoke on the basics of immunotherapy. He introduced the main scientific concepts behind this new approach to cancer treatment, helping those who are new to immunotherapy understand how it works.
Lanier then moderated a panel of Kara Davis, D.O., and David Miklos, M.D. Ph.D., of Stanford University Medical Center, and Terence Friedlander, M.D., and Katy Tsai, M.D., of UCSF on the latest research in immunotherapy. Each expert spoke about how scientific discoveries are rapidly translating to better treatment options for patients. As Dr. Davis explained, “to be able to potentially use the word cure is incredibly exciting.”
Kristin Kleinhofer, a CRI ImmunoAdvocate, shared her story of hope and reflected on her experience receiving immunotherapy treatment after relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “Knowledge is power. You get so much strength by connecting with others, like today.” Attendees were inspired, and the conversation continued into lunch. One attendee reflected over their meal, “I learned more in the last two hours than I have since my diagnosis nine months ago.”
The afternoon session began with a presentation focused on debunking myths associated with clinical trials by Brian Brewer, director of marketing and communications at CRI. Brian was then joined by Benny Juarez, Kristin's caregiver; Sharon Birzer, a diffuse large B cell lymphoma patient; and Kelly Brooks, a melanoma patient. (Both Sharon and Kelly received immunotherapy treatment.) Together, they discussed what it was like receiving immunotherapy and the impact that had on their lives, as well as fielded questions from curious attendees.
Patient Summit attendees were then invited to break out into smaller groups to take a deeper dive into bladder cancer, melanoma, pediatric blood cancers, and general immunotherapy research.
Throughout the day, attendees met with Clinical Trial Navigators to confidentially review their diagnoses and medical histories and learn about which clinical trials they might be able participate in. One patient said, “My appointment with the clinical trial navigator alone made it worth it to come today.”
We’re looking forward to our next Immunotherapy Patient Summit on September 15, 2018, in New York City, hosted at Columbia University Medical Center, and encourage you to register for a Summit near you.