Grantees and Board Members Interact at Scientific Session

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Grantees and Board Members Interact at Scientific Session

The 4th annual Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Scientific Session took place on Friday, October 21, 2011, in conjunction with the organization’s An Evening with the Stars annual gala. Research grant recipients from 2010 and 2011 were invited to attend, in addition to members of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Scientific and Medical Advisory Boards, and Board of Directors.

Michael VanSaun, PhD

During the Scientific Session, recipients of early-career awards from 2010 presented data from the first year of their funded projects to the Scientific and Medical Advisory Boards. This is one of the many career development opportunities that the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network provides for its grantees. Topics presented ranged from ways to predict which patients will respond best to pancreatic cancer treatments, to understanding the link between obesity and pancreatic cancer. The organization’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Boards encompass many of the world leaders in the field of pancreatic cancer research and clinical practice. Questions, comments, and insight offered by these advisors will undoubtedly strengthen the research programs of these early-career investigators. Career Development Award recipient Michael VanSaun, PhD commented about the entire weekend: “I really enjoyed attending this event and it is an honor to interact with the Medical Advisory Board, the Scientific Advisory Board, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network staff, the donors and the survivors. It’s an opportunity very few scientists experience and I wouldn’t have received these unique interactions with any other grant.”

Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS

As an added highlight for the grantees, Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS gave a riveting special presentation on his work at the Scientific Session. Dr. McCormick is a renowned expert in the field of Ras protein signaling. Upon receiving a 2010 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Innovative Grant generously funded by the Fredman Family Foundation, he began to focus on developing treatment options targeting Ras, which is thought to be mutated and activated in up to 90 percent of pancreatic cancer cases. Dr. McCormick’s newfound focus in the field of pancreatic cancer research was further underscored when he recently joined the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Scientific Advisory Board.

In addition to the Scientific Session, the grant recipients were invited to attend a special dinner and display their research progress in the form of posters on Friday evening. Donors and supporters of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network were delighted with the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the exciting research taking place in the field. At the Evening with the Stars gala on Saturday night, grant recipients were introduced and brought on stage to a thunderous standing ovation.

Several other grantees described the weekend as “inspirational”, “fantastic”, and spoke of being “energized” to return to the laboratory. Our Scientific and Medical Advisors raved about the caliber of science presented, as well as the opportunity to see the direct impact of our research grant investments. The pancreatic cancer research community is robust, expanding, and poised to make significant advancements in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

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