For the 6th Annual CCF Research Symposium held on June 8th, childhood cancer researchers joined survivors, advocates, cancer care teams and community leaders to share latest pediatric cancer research breakthroughs and to discuss ways to work together to advance local research. The brainchild of CCF Scientific Advisory Board Chair Jeffrey Toretsky, M.D., of MedStar Georgetown Hospital in 2016, the CCF Research Symposium is based on the belief that small local research dialogue will go a long way toward substantial research collaboration.
Unique among scientific research conferences, the symposium hosts primarily local participants, a prominent poster session, features talks by younger investigators, and involves the non-scientific community. This one-day event caters to the local research community to allow for small group discussion. Finally, it is through the generous support of The Kahlert Foundation that allowed CCF to extend free registration to all participants.
Attendees enjoyed the presentation from Keynote speaker Jack Shern, M.D. of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), who discussed how cancer treatment has improved and will continue to improve through better understanding the tumor at a molecular level. Other presenters represented NCI, Children’s National, Johns Hopkins, and Georgetown Hospital and shared in-depth findings from their research tackling brain tumors, neurofibromatosis, rhabdomyosarcoma and other cancers. Each 2021 CCF Research Grant recipient gave a talk on their funded research progress or presented a poster.
During the lunch break, the poster session encouraged a wide representation of local research, including over 25 posters of research projects. Poster presenters enjoyed interactive discussions about their research, facilitating collaboration between institutions while generally strengthening the relationships that make up this dedicated community of those involved local pediatric cancer research.
Regularly considered the most important part of the day were the presentations of those directly affected by pediatric cancer – the fighters and their families. One of the most emotional moments came from Aaliyah Beckles, who is battling Rhabdomyosarcoma and shared her extensive journey toward receiving an accurate diagnosis. In the afternoon, we met 3-year-old Cameron Corno, who after two years, is now a brain cancer survivor. Cameron’s mother Stewi shared their harrowing experience.
CCF extends appreciation to Scientific Advisory Board members Brigitte Widemann, M.D. of NCI and Brian Rood, M.D. of Children’s National for their support as well as to CCF Board member, Steve Coomes, for volunteering his entire day to CCF! This was truly a community and collaborative event. The 7th Annual CCF Research Symposium is tentatively scheduled for June 7, 2023.