The 2016 GSK Experimental Therapeutics Symposium Was a Success

By Michelle Riegman,

Monday, November 7, 2016

On September 30th and October 1st the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Experimental Therapeutics Symposium took place at MSKCC, bringing together graduate students from five prestigious research institutes in the Northeast. This event was the fifth in a series of annual student-run symposia hosted by HHMI Med into Grad grant recipient institutions. This year, the topic of experimental therapeutics was chosen to highlight MSK’s expertise in successfully moving novel therapies from bench to bedside.

The first day of the symposium featured the keynote address delivered by Dr. Gary K. Schwartz of Columbia University Medical Center, describing several success stories in developing new cancer therapies, followed by a research talk on the rising use of genomics to identify therapeutic targets given by Dr. David Solit of MSKCC. Symposium attendees then participated in a series of mock grand rounds led by Drs. Aimee Crago and Charlotte Ariyan, both of Memorial Hospital, focusing on soft tissue sarcomas and melanoma. Here students learned more about each disease, were shown several representative clinical cases, and discussed novel approaches for treating these types of cancer.

On the second day participants listened to Dr. Hazel Szeto, formerly of Weill Cornell, talk about her own scientific journey from working on opioid receptor-targeting agents to mitochondrial peptide drugs and founding a successful biotech startup, followed by Dr. Charles Rudin’s presentation on his lab’s work on small cell lung cancer. The afternoon was devoted to student presentations, featuring 2-minute lightning talks, a poster session, and longer oral presentations. Awards for best lightning talk went to Michael Badgley (Columbia), Chris Lim (Yale), and Dan Tarjan (Harvard), while the best 10 minute presentations were given by Yumiko Taguchi (Yale), Linda Vo (Harvard), and Li Zha (Harvard).