By Todd Taylor
Brain cancer researchers, clinicians, survivors and supporters from across the U.S. and beyond united in person for the first time in more than two years for the 4th Annual ReMission Summit for Brain Tumors.
While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t halt the collaborative work of the UF Health-led ReMission Alliance Against Brain Tumors, the group embraced the opportunity to meet in person again with a hybrid format for the 2022 ReMission Summit, held March 19-21 at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando.
“We share a vision and passion to advance effective and safe treatments for pediatric and adult brain tumors,” said Duane A. Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., who co-directs the ReMission Alliance and UF’s Preston A. Wells Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy with William A. Friedman, M.D. “And we do this collaboratively by harnessing the intellect, infrastructure and resources of the brain tumor community to focus on this challenge together.”
During the opening session, Mitchell shared updates on research projects and clinical trials supported by the ReMission Alliance, which is comprised of 12 top academic medical centers.
“There’s been significant advancements and achievements across all of these initiatives. Needless to say, it has been quite fruitful to have the integration of these efforts across all of these centers,” said Mitchell, associate director of innovation and discovery at the UF Health Cancer Center.
The ReMission Alliance and The Climb for Cancer Foundation presented the 2nd Annual Bret Hale ReMission Alliance Scholarship to Jason Alverson, a brain tumor survivor studying sports management at James Madison University.
Attendees also heard from ReMission Alliance supporter Dennis Murphy, founder of the Friends of JaclynFoundation, named in honor of his daughter, a brain tumor survivor. Friends of Jaclyn pairs children who are battling brain tumors with local sports teams.
“I’m a brain tumor dad and I wish I wasn’t a member of this fraternity,” Murphy said. “The hope and inspiration that you give us is unbelievable. I think it was genius to create the ReMission Alliance to try to accelerate the cure through collaboration.”
The summit included five sessions featuring presenters from ReMission Alliance institutions and invited speakers from other centers of excellence on the topics of pediatric brain tumor immunotherapy; cancer engineering; T cells and stem cells; metabolism and microenvironment; and glioblastoma immunity and immunotherapy. In an interactive exercise, researchers broke into groups for a collaborative workshop to brainstorm ways to exponentially accelerate the pace of brain tumor immunotherapy research.
The summit also featured special guest speaker Stefan Leichenauer, Ph.D., an expert in real-world applications of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, and keynote speaker Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., an inducted member of the National Academies of Medicine, Sciences and Engineering and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, who gave an address titled, “Beyond the Human Genome Program: A Million Person Demonstration on the Science of Wellness and Prevention.”
“One of the major missions of the ReMission Summit is to integrate different disciplines such as engineering, artificial intelligence, systems biology, as well as many other scientific disciplines, to tackle the significant challenge of finding effective treatments for malignant brain tumors,” Mitchell said.
Photos by Jackie Hart