Cancer Prevention 'Think Tank' Event Recap

February 13, 2018

A recent DF/HCC Think Tank considered the question, “How can technology drive early cancer detection?” The January 22, 2018 meeting was organized by Tim Rebbeck and featured short, TED-style talks by Guillermo Tearney (in vivo laser capture microdissection), Benjamin Ebert (clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential), Scott Manalis (single cell measurement), Matthew Meyerson (cell-free DNA technologies) and Franziska Michor (tumor evolution models). The application of novel technologies to clinical problems was further considered in a panel discussion moderated by David Livingston, with input from diverse research groups.

The motivation for the event was the realization that the greatest opportunity to lower death from cancer is through timely and effective early detection strategies. Indeed, there have been several notable success stories including screening mammography, colonoscopy, and Pap smears. In conjunction with improved treatment, these activities have led to decreases in cancer death in the general population. Despite the promise that early detection holds, early cancer detection remains limited and does not optimally leverage novel technologies.

Participants recognized that at DF/HCC there may be an opportunity to create a multi-disciplinary research program to leverage sample sets and populations, methods and technologies to advance the field. A research program with this focus could provide a platform for investigators to link data, tools, and orthogonal methods to impact prevention and early detection in populations at high risk for cancer or with minimal residual disease.

Follow-up activities are planned, and provocative questions are being formulated to continue the conversation. If you have ideas or want to be involved in this nascent group, please contact Tim Rebbeck (timothy_rebbeck@dfci.harvard.edu).