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Local women leaders hear about revolutionary developments in women’s cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Event raised funds for women’s cancers at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber

More than 460 women gathered virtually today and heard from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute physician-researchers about recent groundbreaking science, new discoveries and novel treatments revolutionizing treatment in women’s cancers.  The presentations gave details on the first personalized cancer vaccine trial in ovarian cancer, remarkable progress for patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer and on a novel, targeted therapy in uterine cancer.

The event was sponsored by the Executive Council of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancer at Dana-Farber, whose mission is to raise funds to support women’s cancer research and treatment at Dana-Faber.

The moderators Judy Garber, MD, Director, Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention, and Sara Tolaney, MD, Associate Director, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers kicked off the discussion.

“This is the most exciting forum I participate in.  The event has a level of excitement that truly energizes all the researchers in the room,” Garber said.

The panelists talked about their cutting-edge science and new discoveries.

Ian Krop, MD, Associate Chief, Division of Breast Oncology at Dana-Farber discussed how “smart bombs” are being used to treat HER2-positivebreast cancer. The FDA recently approved a new targeted drug for women with advanced HER2-postive breast cancer, who had exhausted all standard treatment options, based on a study lead by Dana-Farber. The drug called trastuzumab deruxtecan kept tumors in check significantly longer than other therapeutic options for women living with this difficult form of the disease.

Panos Konstantinopoulos, MD, Director of Translational Research, Gynecologic Oncology discussed the latest clinical trial on the first personalized vaccine for ovarian cancer. The trial led by Dana-Farber is designed to test a vaccine that is tailored to spur a powerful, precise immune system attack on tumor cells in ovarian cancer patients whose disease has progressed following chemotherapy.

Joyce Liu, MD, MPH, Director of Clinical Research, Division of Gynecologic Oncology discussed a novel targeted therapy trial in uterine cancer. In a trial that represents one of the most significant breakthroughs in uterine cancer in years, Dr. Joyce Liu’s research data shows a considerable response to a new drug called Wee1 inhibitor. This targeted therapy has great potential for patients with serous endometrial cancer, which represents fewer than 10 percent of uterine diagnoses and a disproportionate 45 percent of deaths.

This event raised more than $150,000 for the Susan F. Smith Center. Since its founding in 2002, the Executive Council has remained steadfast in its support of the center’s groundbreaking research and has raised more than $18 million providing critical funding.  Each year, the Executive Council awards four innovation grants of $75,000 each for early-stage, high risk/high reward breasts or gynecological cancer research that is not eligible for government funding.

The Executive Council has 7 co-chairs who bring their professional experience and personal expertise to the Council.

“We’ve evolved from a time when you used to have to whisper about women’s cancers,” said Debbie First Executive Council Co-chair and Dana-Farber Trustee.  First, an ovarian cancer survivor was treated at Dana-Farber before the Smith Center opened.  “The Executive Council has helped bring the subject front and center as we educate, advocate and raise funds for women’s cancer.”

“The co-chairs are all so passionately committed to this cause,” said co-chair Meredith Beaton-Starr who has participated on the Executive Council since it’s beginning. “We’re motivated to make things better for the next patient, the next generation.”

Posted on September 25, 2020

  • BRCA
  • Eric P. Winer, MD
  • Sara M. Tolaney, MD, MPH
  • Joyce F. Liu, MD, MPH
  • Ian E. Krop, MD, PhD
  • Panagiotis (Panos) A. Konstantinopoulos, MD, PhD
  • Susan F. Smith Center
  • Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
  • Breast Cancer

Media Contacts

For all inquiries, call 617-632-4090 and ask to speak to a member of the media team. Please direct emails to media@dfci.harvard.edu.