The Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence Conference 2015
Dr Hugo Aerts, MA
Title: Director of the Computational Imaging and Bioinformatics laboratory
Organisation: Harvard Medical School
Hugo is based at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School where he is Director of the Computational Imaging and Bioinformatics laboratory.
His research interest is radiomics – a field that harnesses high-throughput analysis of different imaging modalities (such as PET, CT and MRI) to provide insights into tumour biology.
Imaging-based techniques have traditionally been restricted to the diagnosis of cancer and staging of cancer. But technological advances are moving imaging modalities into the heart of patient care. Radiomics uses imaging assays to develop biomarkers which complement those derived from biopsies.
The ultimate goal of the Aerts lab is to use radiomics to improve personalised medicine strategies by allowing clinicians to monitor disease in real time as patients move through treatment.
Professor Anton Berns
Title: Senior Group Leader in the division of molecular genetics
Organisation: Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI)
Anton is a Senior Group Leader in the division of molecular genetics at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI).
He completed his post-doctoral training with Rudolf Jaenisch at the Salk Institute in California, before moving to the University of Nijmegen where he established his lab. He then joined the NKI in 1985.
Anton’s lab focuses on generating genetically engineered mouse models of lung cancer to shed light on the molecular mechanisms underpinning the disease. Combining this approach with imaging techniques has allowed him to address questions relating to the initiation, maintenance and progression of lung cancer, as well as response and resistance to treatment. He’s also interested in using mouse models to understand the cell of origin for different types of the disease. Anton Berns website
Dr John Brognard
Title: Joint Theme Lead for the Basic Science Research Theme
Organisation: Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute
John is the Joint Theme Lead for the Basic Science Research Theme for the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence and is Joint Scientific Lead for the Centre’s Training Programme with Sergio Quezada at UCL.
He joined the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute in 2010 after completing post-doctoral training in Professor Tony Hunter’s lab at the Salk Institute in San Diego.
John’s research combines siRNA screening technologies and structural modelling with bioinformatics-based technologies to identify driver mutations in non-small cell lung cancer and elucidate their role in tumour initiation, maintenance and progression. This approach has already pinpointed FGFR4, PAK5 and MLK1 as potential therapeutic targets and biomarkers. He also has a special interest in the protein kinase C (PKC) family of proteins and is looking at the contribution of mutations in PKC genes in carcinogenesis, particularly in the context of KRAS mutations.
Professor Caroline Dive
Title: Joint Centre Lead for the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence
Organisation: Manchester University
Caroline is Deputy Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and leads the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group at the Institute. She is Joint Centre Lead for the recently established CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence at Manchester and UCL, with Professor Charles Swanton at UCL.
Caroline’s research has a strong focus on circulating tumour cells (CTCs), particularly in lung cancer; where she has recently developed unique xenotransplantation models using CTCs enriched from small cell lung cancer patients’ blood samples, providing a fully tractable system for therapy testing and understanding drug resistance mechanisms.
Caroline is heavily involved with the CRUK-funded TRACERx consortium (led by Prof Charles Swanton), a pioneering study of intratumoural heterogeneity and evolution of non-small cell lung cancer, where she directs the CTC analysis within the consortium.
Professor Julian Downward
Title: Associate Research Director
Organisation: Francis Crick Institute in London
Julian is an Associate Research Director at the Francis Crick Institute in London, where he also leads a research team.
His PhD with Professor Mike Waterfield at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London led to the discovery of the close similarity between human EGFR and the v-Erb-b oncogene. The publication remains an ISI ‘citation classic’ and is widely viewed as a seminal point in cancer research.
He remains a world-leader in growth factor signalling. His lab is focussed on understanding the signalling events that follow the binding of oncogenic RAS proteins to their effectors including the RAF and phosphoinoside-3-kinases family members. To this end, he employs a number of techniques including the generation of transgenic mice and genome-wide siRNA screens. Julian was elected to the membership of the European Molecular Biology Organisation in 1995 and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005. Julian Downward website
Dr Jeffrey Engelman
Title: Director of Thoracic Oncology
Organisation: Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Jeffrey is Director of Thoracic Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, the Director of Molecular Therapeutics at the MGH Cancer Center, the Scientific Director for the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies, and the Laurel Schwartz Professor of Oncology at Harvard Medical School.
Jeffrey completed his medical residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and his fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/ MGH combined programme. He joined Harvard Medical School and MGH in 2005.
Jeffrey’s goal is to improve targeted therapies for cancer. His research focuses on understanding sensitivity and resistance to specific kinase inhibitors in cancers with defined genetic abnormalities. As director of MGH's thoracic oncology research program, Jeffrey integrates laboratory studies, clinical trials, and molecular profiling of tumours to personalise cancer treatment.
Professor Ramaswamy Govindan
Title: Professor of Medicine
Organisation: Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis
Ramaswamy is a Professor of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.
He received his MD from the University of Pondicherry in India and then moved to the US to complete his medical training. His interest in lung cancer was sparked during his Fellowship training at the University of Washington and he has remained active in the field ever since.
He has led several multi-centre phase II and III clinical trials for lung cancer and is closely involved with the lung cancer branch of The Cancer Genome Project – his research involves whole genome and exome sequencing of several hundred lung cancer patients. His ultimate goal is to use this data to develop more effective, tailored approaches for the treatment of the disease.
Professor Roy Herbst
Title: Ensign Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pharmacology
Organisation: Yale University
Roy is based at Yale University where he is Ensign Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pharmacology. He is also Chief of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and Associate Director for Translational Research at Yale Cancer Center.
After graduating with a medical degree from Cornell University, Roy completed a PhD at Rockerfeller University and next moved to Massachusetts for fellowship training at Dana Farber Cancer Centre and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
His research interests include early-phase clinical trials and biomarker development but he is perhaps best known for harnessing genetic data to personalise treatment for non-small cell lung cancer patients. He presently leads the BATTLE clinical trial for lung cancer which genetically profiles tissue biopsies in real time to guide treatment decisions.
Dr Marcel van Herk
Title: Chair in Radiotherapy Physics
Organisation: Christie Hospital, Manchester
Marcel is a new addition to the UK lung cancer research community, having recently moved to the Christie Hospital in Manchester after 32 years at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
With a background in medical physics, Marcel is internationally recognised as a true innovator in both medical imaging and radiotherapy. As a PhD student, his research laid the foundations for the development and commercialisation of a compact portal imaging device.
Marcel is one of the few scientists who can claim to have an equation named after them – the van Herk formula was devised to ensure that 90% of all patients received 95% of their prescribed dose of radiotherapy. The formula has been tweaked and updated since its inception but remains in use to this day.
Professor Brigid Hogan
Title: Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology
Organisation: Duke University
Brigid is Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at Duke University.
After completing her undergraduate and doctoral training at Cambridge University, Professor Hogan held appointments at MIT, Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the National Institute for Medical Research (both in London). She returned to the US in 1998 when she was made Professor for Cell Biology at Vanderbilt University and then moved to Duke University in 2002.
Her contributions to stem cell and developmental biology have been noteworthy, including the discovery that mouse embryonic stem cell lines may be derived from primordial germ cells – a finding that helped set the scene for the generation of human embryonic stem cell lines.
Her present research is focused on dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying murine lung development. Her lab employs lineage tracing techniques in transgenic mice to identify progenitor cell populations in the lung and to elucidate the contributions of these cells to diseases including fibrosis and cancer. In recent years, her team have identified mechanisms by which lung stem cells mediate repair in the injured lung which might transform our understanding of and approach to treating respiratory disease.
Professor Sam Janes
Title: Chair in Respiratory Medicine
Organisation: University College London
Sam is Chair in Respiratory Medicine at University College London and Consultant at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is also the Joint Theme Lead for the Early Detection & Pre-Invasive Disease Research Theme for the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence.
After training in respiratory medicine at several hospitals including the Hammersmith, Harefield and St Mary’s Hospitals, Sam completed his doctoral and post-doctoral training at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute in 2004. He then moved to University College London to run his own lab as an MRC Clinician Scientist and now a Wellcome Senior Fellow.
His research focuses on understanding signalling pathways in airway stem cells and how disruptions can trigger tumourigenesis. He also has a particular interest in using stem cells to deliver therapeutics.
Professor Pasi Jänne
Title: Professor of Medicine
Organisation: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Pasi is Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
After receiving both his medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, he moved to Boston to complete his medical training and establish his own research group.
By describing the exquisite sensitivity of EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung tumours to anti-EGFR therapies – he is widely recognised to be a pioneer of the targeted therapy movement in lung cancer. Today, his lab employs a multifaceted approach to tackle drug-resistance – a significant clinical problem in the treatment of the disease. His goal is to understand the mechanistic basic of resistance and to devise biologically-rich strategies to overcome it. He is also interested in understanding the molecular causes of lung cancer in never-smokers and developing patient-derived preclinical models of lung cancer.
Professor Philippe Lambin
Title: Clinical Oncologist and Professor of Radiation Oncology
Organisation: University of Maastricht
Philippe is a Clinical Oncologist and Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maastricht. He is also Professor of Functional Imaging at Eindhoven University.
His key research focus is tumour hypoxia and his goal is to translate findings gleaned from basic biology into new tumour imaging modalities. Another focus is the development of radiosensitisation agents and biomarker development.
In addition to his translational work, Philippe is a prominent clinical researcher and has led several clinical trials for lung cancer and other solid tumours.
Professor Gary Middleton
Title: Chair of Medical Oncology
Organisation: Birmingham University
Gary is Chair of Medical Oncology at Birmingham University where he is based at the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Centre.
He is a world-leader in clinical trials and he has a particular interest in stratified medicine. He is lead investigator for Matrix, a Cancer Research UK-funded multi-arm, multi-centre stratified medicine clinical trial for lung cancer patients.
He has a particular interest in understanding how the tumour microenvironment – specifically myeloid-derived suppressor cells, modulate therapeutic response. To this end, he is co-lead for the immunobiology arm of TRACERx which aims to track the genetic evolution of lung tumours as patients move through treatment.
Dr Sergio Quezada
Title: Group leader, Immune Regulation and Tumour Immunotherapy Laboratory
Organisation: UCL Cancer Institute, London
Sergio is a group leader at UCL Cancer Institute in London where he heads the Immune Regulation and Tumour Immunotherapy Laboratory. He is also the Joint Theme Lead for the Immunology Research Theme for the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence and is Joint Scientific Lead for the Centre’s Training Programme with Dr John Brognard in Manchester.
Prior to moving to the UK, Dr Quezada worked with Professor James Allison at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center studying the mechanisms governing anti-tumour T-cell immunity, and how these mechanisms can be manipulated to generate potent anti-tumour immune responses.
His research interests focus around the study how anti-CTLA-4, anti-PD-1 and other immune-modulatory antibodies targeting co-inhibitory and co-stimulatory pathways work. His group has particular interest in the impact of immunomodulatory antibodies in the fate and function of tumour reactive CD4+ T cells and the role of the tumour microenvironment in the response and resistance to such therapies.
Dr Charles Rudin
Title: Chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service
Organisation: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Charles is the chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where he directs a broad research program of therapeutic research with the ultimate goal of improving the outcome for patients with lung cancer.
His research includes laboratory-based investigations to identify and test novel treatment approaches, early-phase clinical trials to bring these ideas to the clinic, and later-phase studies to establish the efficacy of these strategies.
Some of the approaches the Rudin lab has explored both in the laboratory and in the clinic include turning back on genes silenced in cancer, re-activating cancer cell death pathways, and treatment with a cancer-specific virus. By playing an active role in early-phase clinical trials, he is ideally placed to oversee the transition of these agents into a clinical setting.
Professor Jean-Charles Soria
Title: Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology
Jean-Charles is Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology at Paris University XI. He is also a Medical Oncologist at Institut Gustave Roussy.
He graduated from medical school in 1997 and went on to receive a PhD in 2001. His doctoral research piqued an interest in cancer research that has stayed with him throughout his career. He returned to Paris to establish his own lab after completing post-doctoral training at MD Anderson in Houston.
His research is centred around improving targeted therapies for lung cancer, particularly early-phase clinical trials and the development of pharmacodynamic biomarkers. He is also interested in the development of pre-clinical models of lung cancer. Externally, he is also Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Oncology.
Professor Avrum Spira
Title: Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Bioinformatics and the Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship
Organisation: Boston University
Avrum is a Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Bioinformatics and the Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship at Boston University. He is founding Chief of the Division of Computational Biomedicine in the Department of Medicine at Boston University and Director of the Translational Bioinformatics Program at Boston University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. As an active clinician-scientist, he attends in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center.
His research combines both genomics and bioinformatics-based approaches to the study of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. A central tenet of his research is the idea that inhaled carcinogens create a ‘field of injury’ in airway epithelia and that assaying a relatively pure sample of these cells provides an accurate profile of the damage and the cellular response to it. This concept allows for the detection of cancer in tissues that are more accessible than the lung itself. He is also active in biomarker development and has characterised a bronchial epithelia smoking-related gene expression signature that is being developed to detect early-stage lung cancer.
Professor Charles Swanton
Title: Joint Centre Lead for the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence
Organisation: UCL Cancer Institute, London
Charles is Chair of Personalised Medicine at the UCL Cancer Institute and Consultant Thoracic Medical Oncologist at UCHL Hospitals. He is Joint Centre Lead for the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence at Manchester and UCL, together with Professor Caroline Dive and he also leads a research team at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
Charles’ focus is on metastatic disease where’s he’s driven by a desire to understand why advanced cancer is so difficult to treat successfully. His research seeks to answer profoundly important questions about how genetic diversity occurs in cancers and its implications for the patient.
His elegant study of tumour heterogeneity in solid tumours has already become a citation classic, scoring more citations in its year of publication than any other bar the discovery of the Higgs-Boson. He’s also lead investigator for TRACERx, a groundbreaking study designed to answer how non-small cell lung cancer evolves during treatment.
Professor Roman Thomas
Title: Head of the Department of Translational Genomics
Organisation: German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Cologne
Roman heads the Department of Translational Genomics at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Cologne.
His research is designed to understand how genetic aberrations in tumours perturb complex signalling networks and identify opportunities for therapeutic intervention. His team recently performed a large-scale characterisation of lung tumours which identified genetically-defined, clinically relevant subtypes of the disease and showed that histologically similar samples were often genetically distinct.
His ultimate aim is to improve the outlook for lung cancer patients by putting genomics at the heart of treatment decisions.
Professor Jedd Wolchok
Title: Chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service
Organisation: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)
Jedd is chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC); an associate director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at MSKCC, an associate member of Ludwig Cancer Research, and the Lloyd J. Old & Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation at MSKCC.
Jedd has been an architect of the recent renaissance in immunotherapy. He played a central role in the clinical development of the anti-CTLA4 antibody ipilumumab and continues to lead clinical trials to improve and refine its use for patient benefit. He’s now interested in extending the reach of immunotherapy to other cancers beyond melanoma, including lung cancer.
Title: Associate Professor
Organisation: Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre
Trever completed his MD and PhD at NYU School of Medicine, before moving to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard and then Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre for advanced training. He’s now based at the University of California at San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre, where he is an Associate Professor, and has been since 2011.
The goal of his research is to improve precision medicine strategies for lung cancer patients – in particular, to understand mechanisms of resistance to targeted treatments, and to design new strategies to overcome it. His multidisciplinary team is guided by the ‘bench-to-bedside’ philosophy – combining functional genomics with clinical datasets and pharmacological approaches to reveal key signalling pathways driving drug resistance.
Trever has pioneered the idea of rational upfront combination therapies (polytherapies) that target the driver oncoprotein together with the pathway most likely to drive resistance. This work has provided the scientific rationale for several innovative clinical trials aimed at improving the efficacy of lung cancer treatments for patients. Trever Bivona website
Dr Daniel Murphy
Title: Senior Lecturer
Daniel did his PhD at the University of Virginia. He completed his post-doctoral training at the University of California at San Francisco, before setting up his own lab at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany. He’s now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, where he’s been since 2011.
His research focuses on identifying vulnerabilities in oncogene-addicted tumours – work he hopes will reveal new therapeutic targets for novel treatment strategies. He’s also developing genetically engineered mouse models of cancer that can track cancer progression from early lesions, all the way through to late-stage disease. Daniel Murphy's website.
Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld
Nitzan trained in Physics, and specialized in quantitative molecular biology, obtaining a Ph.D. in the field of Systems Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2005 he joined Rosetta Genomics Limited, where he was head of Computational Biology and led development of molecular diagnostic tests. He has been a group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, now part of the University of Cambridge since 2009.
His translational research group focuses on the application of circulating tumour DNA as a tool for cancer diagnostics and non-invasive genomics. In 2013 Nitzan was awarded the CRUK Future Leaders in Cancer Research prize, the British Association for Cancer Research Translational Research Award, and an ERC Starting Grant. In 2014, Nitzan and his colleagues founded Inivata, a clinical cancer genomics company that aims to harness the emerging potential of circulating DNA analysis to improve testing and treatment for oncologists and their patients. Nitzan Rosenfeld's website
Ms Rachel Rosenthal
Title: PhD student
Organisation: Charles Swanton's lab
Rachel completed a Masters in Systems Biology before moving to Charles Swanton's lab, where she is a second year PhD student.
Her research focuses on understanding the immune response in cancer. She is using computational methods to identify potential neo-antigens, to characterize the tumour immune environment and to understand the impact of intra-tumoural heterogeneity.