Sylvester Hosts 2023 Florida Academic Cancer Center Alliance Retreat to Fight Cancer Together
What started in 2014 as an experiment in Florida to encourage academic cancer centers to work together to further research has become a win for cancer patients in the state and beyond.
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, sponsored the 2023 Florida Academic Cancer Center Alliance (FACCA) Retreat March 27-28 in Miami. Florida funds FACCA through the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program to enhance the quality and competitiveness of cancer care in the state, further a statewide biomedical research strategy directly responsive to the health needs of Florida’s citizens and capitalize on the potential educational opportunities available to its students.
FACCA comprises Florida´s three academic cancer centers: Sylvester, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)- designated cancer center; Moffitt Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center; and University of Florida Health Cancer Center.
“Florida is a model for the rest of the United States in how to further cancer research through collaboration,” said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director and Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at Sylvester. “Many U.S. academic cancer centers compete and keep their research secret until it is published. We’re working together to get more federal funding for the state, more high-impact publications and really to change the way we look at cancer.”
Presentations, Panels on the Latest in Cancer Research
Cancer center leaders, physicians and investigators — many whose research has been funded through FACCA — attended this year’s retreat. Investigators shared the latest data on population science, the tumor microenvironment, cancer epigenetics (or how genes can change cancer) and tumor biology, as well as precision cancer therapy.
Several Sylvester investigators moderated panels and presented research. Tracy E. Crane, Ph.D., presented on integrating patient-generated cancer care data to improve cancer outcomes.
Matthew Schlumbrecht, M.D., M.P.H., discussed new perspectives on disparities in endometrial cancer; Zhipeng Meng, Ph.D., shared important findings in the tumor microenvironment that impact tumor growth; Lluis Morey, Ph.D., shared data on why some head and neck cancers are resistant to traditional therapies; and Anna Lasorella, M.D., discussed a novel way to study immune response for precision medicine.
On Day Two, Jashodeep Datta, M.D., shared findings on the complex circuitry that helps pancreatic cancer to thrive; Youngmee Kim, Ph.D., talked about an interpersonal approach to cancer survivorship; Scott Welford, Ph.D., addressed tumor microenvironment data looking at the impact of lipid metabolism; Luisa Cimmino, Ph.D., discussed an aspect of myeloid (or bone marrow) cancer development; and Shanta Dhar, Ph.D., shared data on a combination therapy for glioblastoma.
The collaboration helps to ensure quality research, as the centers that make up FACCA adhere to the ideals set forward federally through the NCI, according to Jonathan D. Licht, M.D., FACCA co-director and director of the University of Florida Health Cancer Center.
“We are dedicated to promulgating the best cancer care through research, through basic research, population-based research and therapeutic research,” Dr. Licht said. “We use very heavily vetted and heavily peer-reviewed mechanisms to fund the very best research, to assure rigor and reproducibility in our research findings and to assure the public we’re conducting clinical trials in the most efficacious and safe way.”
Improving cancer care is especially important in Florida, which has the third largest population and second highest tumor burden in the U.S., according to John Cleveland, Ph.D., FACCA co-director, executive vice president and center director at Moffitt Cancer Center.
“We’re all in this fight together…These three pillars [of cancer research] are not in competition,” Dr. Cleveland said. “[FACCA] brings the three major cancer centers in Florida together to reduce the state’s cancer burden and drives the research and clinical trials that become lifesaving therapies.”
Tags: Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program, Dr. Anna Lasorella, Dr. Jashodeep Datta, Dr. Lluis Morey, Dr. Luisa Cimmino, Dr. Matthew P. Schlumbrecht, Dr. Scott Welford, Dr. Shanta Dhar, Dr. Stephen D. Nimer, Dr. Stephen Nimer, Dr. Tracy Crane, Dr. Youngmee Kim, Dr. Zhipeng Meng, FACCA, Florida Academic Cancer Center Alliance, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center