An Endeavor to Foster Collaborations Through Research Retreats

February 13, 2024


Paving the Way for Future Breakthroughs

The DF/HCC Breast Cancer Program is committed to fostering a rich and collaborative environment and has been holding yearly research retreats to pool diverse expertise, foster innovative research approaches and accelerate progress in understanding and addressing complex challenges. Last year in November, the Breast Program held a half-day retreat to discuss novel research on cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) in breast cancer. The event was well attended with a total of 88 participants (63 attending in person and 25 virtually) and was designed to bring together DF/HCC researchers, including fellows, post-docs, junior faculty and lab staff, from various institutions such as BCH, BIDMC, BWH, DFCI, HMS, HSPH, and MGH. 

The Role of CDK Research in Breast Cancer Management

CDKs play a crucial role in regulating the cell cycle, which is the process by which a cell duplicates its genetic material and divides into two daughter cells. Dysregulation of the cell cycle is a hallmark of cancer, including breast cancer. Therefore, research on CDKs is critical for understanding the underlying biology of the disease, developing targeted therapies, improving diagnostic and prognostic tools, and ultimately advancing personalized treatment strategies for patients with breast cancer.

A Recap of the November 17, 2023 Retreat

Antonio Giordano, MD, PhD and Geoffrey Shapiro, MD, PhD, physician-scientists and organizers of this event, extended their warm welcome during the opening remarks and set the stage for the day's discussions. Dr. Shapiro provided a historical perspective and highlighted the many contributions to the CDK inhibitor field by DF/HCC investigators over many years.

The day kicked off with an overview of the latest clinical data on FDA-approved CDK inhibitor agents for HR+/HER2- breast cancer patients, presented by Erica Mayer, MD, MPH. The focus then shifted to the mechanistic understanding of CDK4/6 inhibitor resistance, featuring Seth Wander, MD, PhD, who discussed the development of a composite genomic signature to predict resistance. Daniel Abravanel, MD, PhD, followed with insights into mechanisms of CDK4/6 inhibitor resistance based on single cell and spatial genomics in metastatic breast cancer. These talks generated robust discussion about how these findings may translate to clinical practice.

The agenda continued with a discussion on next-generation CDK inhibitors in clinical development, with Dr. Giordano providing an overview of novel agents targeting CDKs 2, 4, and 6. The symposium then explored new preclinical insights into CDK4/6 inhibition resistance, featuring exciting and unpublished research from across the cancer center. Ioannis Sanidas, PhD presented data on switching of cell cycle kinase dependence as a mechanism of resistance to CDK4/6 inhibition. Gerburg Wulf, MD, PhD, discussed a first-in-class agent designed to augment CDK4/6 inhibition and Dr. Shapiro addressed reversing CDK6 overexpression to circumvent resistance. Rinath Jeselsohn, MD, concluded this section with insights into CDK7 inhibition in ER+ breast cancer.  Each talk was followed by a discussion session. The symposium concluded by exploring the intersection of CDK inhibitors and the immune microenvironment, with Peter Sicinski, MD, PhD, presenting on the cell cycle-independent therapeutic benefits of CDK2 inhibition.

Drs. Giordano and Shapiro provided closing comments and concluded the day with an invitation to a social networking reception, allowing participants to engage in informal discussion. The event not only provided a comprehensive exploration of cutting-edge research but also fostered an environment that actively encouraged collaborations, paving the way for future breakthroughs in the field of CDK research.

Consider Attending the September 20, 2024 Retreat

The DF/HCC Breast Program Steering Committee is currently planning the 2024 research retreat which will focus on deep learning and artificial intelligence and its application in oncology. The event is scheduled for Friday, September 20th, noon to 6pm. 

View the agenda for past research retreats and upcoming retreat information here.