DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS

Highlights from the 2016 IMPaCT Meeting

Donald Tindall, PhD; Formerly Mayo Clinic (Ret.); IMPaCT Technical Planning Committee: The IMPaCT meeting was designed primarily for young investigators. The PCRP has funded young investigators ever since its inception, and this has been one of the most important components of their funding. And so the purpose of this meeting was to gather young investigators that had been funded by the PCRP and to hear their story and to find out about how they’ve been successful in their scientific endeavors.

Adam Dicker, MD, PhD; Thomas Jefferson University; PCRP Programmatic Panel (Chair): The Prostate Cancer Research Program is committed to supporting research that’s innovative, that’s impactful, that’s transformational, and to develop leaders in the field. The program supports researchers at every phase—at the pre-doctoral phase, at the post-doctoral phase, post-doctoral PhD, post-doctoral MD, early career phase, etcetera. And—and whether it’s a Nobel Prize Laureate who is applying for a grant or whether it’s a pre-doc, everyone has to address the challenges that the Programmatic Panel has outlined in terms of, “What are the critical needs in prostate cancer in research and patient care?”

Joel Nowak, MSW, MA; MaleCare, Inc.; PCRP Consumer Reviewer: It’s really important for us to help develop researchers who are going to have an interest in prostate cancer to see that as their field of interest. And that’s the only way that we’re going to make the leaps and the bounds that we need.

David VanderWeele, MD, PhD; National Cancer Institute, Physician Research Training Award: I received the Physician Research Training Award, which is a mentored award for people coming out of training or newly—sort of making the transition into an independent research career. I’m especially interested in the difference between lower-grade and lower-risk and—and higher-grade, higher-risk prostate cancer and more recently how those genetics relate or correlate to that of more-advanced castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

Himisha Beltran, MD; Weill Cornell Medicine; Physician Research Training Award: I’m a Medical Oncologist and during my Fellowship, I was studying all different types of cancers, and I was really drawn to prostate cancer, mainly because of the patients, and also because of the research that was being done. A lot of my work has focused on understanding how resistance develops, not just to the traditional drugs, but the drugs that were being developed at that time. And I’ve been very grateful to support from the Prostate Cancer Research Program, the DoD, because I was very early in my career at the time of getting this award, and it’s since let me really delve deep into the science and actually helped me bring many of these observations into the clinic.

Natasha Kyprianou, PhD; University of Kentucky; PCRP Programmatic Panel Member: The whole idea is to bring the young talent who are really at the forefront of making discoveries to cure prostate cancer, both at the basic science research level and at the clinical level, with some of the senior leadership in the field of prostate cancer, both clinicians and scientists.

Karen Sfanos, MS, PhD; Johns Hopkins University; Health Disparity Research Award – New Investigator: I really liked that the IMPaCT meeting was focused on young investigators. I met several new people that I hadn't interacted with before. I heard about some topics, and I heard some speakers that I hadn't heard speak before. I spoke in the health disparities session, and the keynote speaker gave an awesome talk, and it was really informative to me and really changed my perspective of how to think about, you know, some of the things that I’m currently working on. And—and—and so that was very valuable.

Tim McDonald, MD, PhD; M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; PCRP Programmatic Panel (Chair Emeritus): We really all sometimes don’t realize how important it is that you cannot work in silos, and for us to effectively really combat prostate cancer, we really have to develop a consortium and team science. So, starting from that, I really, you know when I’m working on my DoD grants, I think about the idea of who can best—and I think somebody mentioned on the Panel, who can best contribute to what I have? Who is the best? You know, who is the best? Do a little bit of the literature review, and then I send an email to them and be very specific on what I need them for and the gap that they are going to fill in the puzzle that I’m really drawing up. And then, you know I have to say a lot of people, you know, sometimes shy away from collaboration because they don’t know you. But you know, I think, all in all, you just have to not give up. And I’d say 99 percent of the time, I get a yes. I don’t know why, but I do get a yes.

Beltran: It’s been really exciting to hear the work that my peers are doing. It’s been discussing collaborations and meeting people and learning about different aspects of prostate cancer research. And it’s not so often that you get to be in a room with people—your peers and—and start brainstorming on new fresh ideas. And so it’s been a really great meeting and hearing the talks; the talks were all excellent.

VanderWeele: It’s a smaller meeting, which really facilitates, I think, a lot of networking between people much more so than at a very large meeting with thousands of people. I think it’s especially advantageous for a—sort of a younger investigator like myself to really have a,—more of a chance to interact with people who are more established in the field.

Tindall: It’s wonderful to see both PhDs and MDs talking to each other, and we have MD PhDs being funded by the PCRP, and I think this is a good mix of physicians, scientists, and PhDs that all are working towards a common goal.

Dicker: One last thing, consumers—consumers in—in the Congressionally Directed Programs have a different meaning than consumers in Madison Avenue. So consumers are patients, survivors, family members, or caregivers, and for all your proposals, consumers were either a primary or secondary or potentially a tertiary reviewer. They have an equal vote at the table and—they bring a sense of purpose, and when a patient stands up and—and speaks about a particular issue regarding a grant proposal, it completely refocuses the discussion, and so—so their impact is significant and—and don’t underestimate what they contribute.

COL Paul Taylor, MPA; ZERO; PCRP Consumer Reviewer: I just retired after serving 23 years in the Military in the Army, which gives me kind of a little bit of a unique perspective, since this is DoD funding. But, of course, I’m also a prostate cancer survivor. I was diagnosed 4 years ago at the age of 41 with metastatic disease at onset.

Nowak: When I first started, I was on my first round of hormone therapy. And one of the side effects that I experienced from hormone therapy was total brain fuzz. And going through those first set of reviews and being able to understand them was probably the most difficult mental task I’ve ever encountered in my entire existence. But I found that it was probably the most mind-expanding thing I’ve ever done, and it would have been that way even without having been on hormone therapy. On the Programmatic Committee, I actually love doing it because it gives me an opportunity to really have a significant impact on what the mechanisms look like, what we think is important, and to change the face of some of the proposals that—that—that we fund.

Taylor: I wish every prostate cancer patient would have the ability to be a peer reviewer because, when you sit on a panel with experts in their scientific fields for 2 days, and you realize the commitment and all of the great research that’s going on, it gives you a lot of hope for the future.

Kyprianou: Bringing the young investigators with fresh ideas, the innovative minds of prostate cancer research, can really enhance interactions with the senior established investigators.

Hung-Ming Lam, PhD; University of Washington; Idea Development Award – New Investigator: We were able to communicate face-to-face and then initiate new ideas. Hopefully, later on, we can jointly apply for bigger DoD grants like Synergy Award, Impact Award.

Tindall: We hope that they exchange information, which we’ve seen, and we hope that we develop some collaborations among young—young investigators. And we’ve already seen that.

Kyprianou: I think everybody is going to leave with a great knowledge that prostate cancer research is really at the forefront, and we’re making new discoveries. We’re making new drug discoveries. We’re making new biomarkers, these molecular signatures, as we heard from some of the pathologists today, so we’re going back to the, you know, the groups and universities, their labs, and their clinics with the knowledge that, yes, prostate cancer research is advancing. But we need to do more. And we need to have that—that wave of young intellect, if you will, to move forward.

Last updated Friday, June 9, 2017