We had a wonderful start to our 2019 Immunotherapy Patient Summit Series at UC San Diego School of Medicine on Saturday, June 29, 2019. More than 200 patients, caregivers, and advocates connected with each other, learned about clinical trials, and gathered knowledge from experts in cancer immunotherapy.
The day opened with an overview of immunotherapy given by Aaron Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. He introduced scientific concepts behind cancer immunotherapy, emphasizing that the discovery and validation of new biomarkers will help doctors predict who will respond to which immunotherapies.
Dr. Miller then moderated a panel with Tanya Dorff, M.D. (City of Hope), Roger Lo, M.D., Ph.D. (UCLA), and Rebecca Shatsky, M.D., (UCSD) on the latest research in immunotherapy. Dr. Dorff discussed her team’s work documenting genomic sequencing with treatment choices and outcomes to identify patterns and help personalize treatment for future cancer patients.
Immunotherapy Research Updates Panel: Tanya Dorff, M.D.; Roger Lo, M.D., Ph.D.; Rebecca Shatsky, M.D.; and Aaron Miller, M.D., Ph.D. (moderator)
Janie Ferling, a CRI ImmunoAdvocate, shared her story of self-advocacy and resilience as a melanoma veteran and “super survivor.” She reflected on how asking questions about her treatment throughout helped her to feel more informed about her treatment choices.
During lunch attendees had a chance to connect with each other and experts. One attendee reflected on how sharing her experience of survivorship with others during the lunch break eased her fears.
Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to meet confidentially with clinical trial navigators to review their medical histories, to learn about trials in which they may be able to participate, and to find out how to contact trial coordinators.
The afternoon session began with a presentation focused on demystifying clinical trials by Brian Brewer, director of marketing and communications at CRI. Gordon Levine and Dan Engel then joined Brian for a panel discussion about their experiences receiving immunotherapy for colorectal cancer and melanoma respectively. Gordon emphasized, “what we all learn is that you must advocate for yourself. Don’t accept the doctor who says I have nothing else to give you.”
Patient Perspectives Panel: Dan Engel, Gordon Levine, and Brian Brian (moderator)
Dan discussed his experience enduring over twenty years of treatment, which culminated in an immunotherapy clinical trial of ipilimumab that saved his life and later became FDA-approved as a front-line treatment for metastatic melanoma. He launched PatientTrueTalk in 2018 to help create a space for patients and caregivers to connect with each other when deliberating over their treatment options. He noted, “As a patient, we want to talk to somebody who has been through what we’re about to go through.”
Dan Engel, Melanoma Veteran
Immunotherapy Patient Summit attendees were then invited to smaller breakout sessions to take a deeper dive into breast cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, and general immunotherapy research.
Thank you to all of our sponsors and incredible educational partners who helped to make the Summit possible, especially the Immunotherapy Foundation and UCSD Moores Cancer’s San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy. We’re looking forward to our next Immunotherapy Patient Summit on July 27, 2019, in Boston hosted at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and encourage you to register for a Summit near you.
Register for a CRI Immunotherapy Patient Summit