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May 1, 2012

Forming a global cancer network for research, clinical care, education and prevention.

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IDC-INCAN Exchange - Strengthening the Sister Institution Network through Collaboration

A successful network is not a two way street. It is multi-dimensional and dynamic. The goal of GAP’s Sister Institution Network has always been to facilitate and enable collaborations to naturally arise among the Sister Institutions and not just with MD Anderson. This is taking place between several institutions including Fudan Cancer Center, the German Cancer Research Center, Institute de Cancerologie Gustave Roussy, King Hussein Cancer Center, Sheba Medical Center and Barretos Cancer Hospital. One of the newest cross-collaborations is between Instituto de Cancerología (IDC) – Clinica Las Américas in Medellin, Colombia and the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (INCAN) in Mexico City, Mexico.

David Cantú de León, M.D., Ph.D., at INCAN and Rene Pareja, M.D., at IDC, were introduced at the annual GAP Conference 2011 by Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., assistant professor at MD Anderson. Schmeler, Pareja and Pedro Ramirez, M.D., were already collaborating on surgical trials between IDC and MD Anderson. All the physicians are gynecologic oncologists in their respective Departments of Gynecologic Oncology. During the conference, Pareja suggested that one of Cantu’s surgeons should visit IDC and do a rotation emphasizing minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology. When INCAN entered into the same minimally invasive surgery protocol on which IDC and MD Anderson were already collaborating, Pareja reached out to Cantu to congratulate him and reminded him of the offer. This time, Cantu started to think about who to send.

“At INCAN we need to perform more laparoscopic surgeries for gynecologic tumors,” explains Cantu. “Our young attendings need high quality training in the field and this was an opportunity to provide that training.”

David Isla, M.D., was interested in the exchange and eager to learn about minimally invasive techniques. He will be visiting IDC from July to September of this year. During his time in Colombia, Isla will have several objectives. To gain perspective on the field, he will review the literature regarding minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology. Based on Pareja’s recommendations, Isla will then make six in-depth reviews of topics in the area. Isla will participate in clinical activities, rounds, disposition conferences and perform laparoscopic surgery. At the end of the experience, Isla will develop a report of all his activities. Beyond the prospective scientific paper that could arise from the work, Pareja’s goal is for Isla to return to Mexico capable of both performing laparoscopic surgery on his own and sharing his knowledge with others.

Currently, there is no grand overarching plan between IDC and INCAN - no strategic aims or five year goals. The exchange is a first step and all involved want to make it a success. Since the patient populations of the two institutions, as well as other Latin American countries in the network, are similar, there is potential for exchange in a variety of disciplines. The initial exchange is intended to provide a framework for additional interactions.

“Beyond observing what others do in gynecologic oncology,” says Cantu, “the greatest benefit of the exchange is to show that it is absolutely feasible to work as a team with other personnel at other institutions.”

Calendar of Events

GAP Annual Conference
Oslo, Norway
May 14-16, 2012

DKFZ Stem Cell Symposium
Heidelberg, Germany
Oct. 14-16, 2012

Yonsei Joint Symposium
Seoul, Korea
Oct. 18-19, 2012


GAP 2012 in Two Weeks

Believe it or not, this is the last GAP Connect before the GAP 2012 Conference in Oslo, Norway on May 14-16, 2012. The final program will be available soon, but in the meantime, the schedule is on the GAP2012 website and includes the nursing program. The conference is a full three days of discussions and presentations, with the first ever scientific speed dating at a GAP Conference. It is actually called the partnering lunch and if you filled out your registration form carefully, you should get to spend a quality 15 minutes with someone else interested in your type of work. The goal is to introduce more people based on their research interests and spark collaboration. Just like in dating, keep an open mind, realize that it will be over soon if it is not going well and don’t wait three days to call back. GAP and NCC staffs are working diligently to make this GAP Conference the most productive yet. See you in Norway.

MD Anderson Announces Agreement with Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein

Often referred to as HIAE, Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paulo, Brazil is a leading hospital offering a wide array of health care services. In 2002, HIAE became MD Anderson’s first Sister Institution and has continued to collaborate on research and education initiatives. This new 10-year agreement will allow the two institutions to work closely together on strengthening HIAE’s capacity in patient care, research, education and prevention. Read more about the agreement in MD Anderson’s news release.

Network News

Yonsei University SINF Report

In 2010, Yonsei Cancer Center (YCC) and MD Anderson started at Sister Institution Network Funded project to identify new targets for gastric cancer. With the completion of the project, the researchers offered their perspective on the goals of the collaboration. MD Anderson RNA sequenced gastric cancer samples provided by YCC, established a panel of gastric cancer cell lines and tested the cell lines, also provided by YCC, for the expression of target proteins.  Hyun Cheol Chung, M.D., Ph.D., the director of YCC served as a Co-PI with Sarah Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. The sequencing was able to identify nine cell lines with mutations. The results of the study were published online in the March 20,2012 issue of Cancer Research under the title AMPKα modulation in cancer progression: multilayer integrative transcriptome analysis in Asian gastric cancer.

WIN Conference Approaching - Abstract Deadline Today

If you are interested in submitting an abstract for the WIN conference in Paris on June 28-29, 2012, today is the deadline. If your work pertains to personalized therapeutics in terms of diagnostics, therapeutics, technologies and tool development, computational and bioinformatics, the WIN 2012 conference is a great opportunity to highlight that work.

Today is also the deadline for scholarship applications for low-income regions to receive funding to attend WIN 2012. Take a look at the WIN website for all the details.

Brain Tumors 2012 - From Biology to Therapy

The Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology and The Neurobiology Committee of Polish Academy Sciences will host Brain Tumors 2012 in Warsaw, Poland from May 28-30, 2012. The conference will gather experts from a variety of institutions, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, Uppsala University in Sweden and Cleveland Clinic. MD Anderson will be represented by Amy Heimberger, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery; Waldemar Priebe, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics; and Konrad Gabrusiewicz, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neuro-Oncology.