When we think of what our role in the breast cancer research universe is, we often cite phrases like 'convening groups of experts to explore new avenues of research,' 'collaborating on out-of-the-box studies,' 'high risk-high reward,' and 'engaging unconventional partners to attack problems from a new angle.'
Last month, the 9th International Symposium on the Breast did all of that and more in just two days. In this month's Research Worth Watching, Dr. Love shares a few highlights of some of the research shared at the Symposium and it was fascinating!
But, my goal here is to share with you how impactful it is in the big picture of breast cancer research. It's not a big meeting by design. About 100 people including speakers and attendees - and advocates. But it is unique and what comes out of is not currently being done anywhere by anyone else.
The International Symposium on the Breast brings together iconoclastic thinkers from a variety of disciplines from engineering and physics to basic and clinical biology and provides them a secure environment to share their early published work. This is something that researchers rarely do in public. In our highly competitive world, one person's ideas can be used to further someone else's work.
At the Symposium though, speakers are hand-chosen by Dr. Love especially because they are excited to share and are working on things that are not always considered mainstream. And because, even when the work is basic and still in the lab, there is a direct line from what the person is working on to how it might impact women and men who get breast cancer.
The mood at the Symposium is electric. People meet and form unlikely partnerships that would never happen otherwise and, as a result, have the potential to improve our understanding of what causes malignancy in the normal human breast and what enables metastasis.
Here are a few quotes from participants at last month's Symposium that demonstrate what it means to them:
'I think your conference was one of the most enjoyable I have been to. Great interactions, all comments said in the best way possible!! Bold is good! I especially appreciated the variety of topics (microbiome to methylation) and the enthusiasm.'
'I loved how the meeting brought together people with such different perspectives on breast cancer and normal tissue biology, and your consistent focus on the issues that matter the most to patients.'
With the Symposium behind us for now, we turn our attention back to our ongoing research. We're excited about the progress we're having with getting both sites set up in Mexico for the Self-Reading Ultrasound study and hope to be able to begin recruiting participants in a few months. And, we're working to build on the early results from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Collateral Damage Project.
I look forward to sharing more about our work and progress on all of our work.