At the World Medical Innovation Forum on April 25, two dozen early career faculty will deliver rapid-fire presentations highlighting compelling new discoveries and insights related to cancer that will affect the lives of patients in the future. We asked speakers from BWH to give us a sneak peek about what they’ll be presenting and what to expect from this year’s forum. We also asked Monica Bertagnolli, MD, co-chair of the 2016 forum, for insights on what’s in store this year. If you’d like to attend the WMIF, make sure to register here.


LWT_Bertagnolli“We are pleased to team up with colleagues across all Partners institutions to discuss recent advances in the field of oncology. The focus is on Partners’ research that promises to change the lives of cancer patients in the near future.   The range of topics is broad, and includes discussion of exciting original approaches as well as breakthroughs in work that has been pursued for decades. Additional input from leaders in Biotechnology will provide valuable insights into the real world challenges of bringing new anti-cancer therapies to the clinic.”

-Monica Bertagnolli, MD, BWH Division of Surgical Oncology and World Forum Co-Chair


LWT_Jagadeesan“My talk will describe novel technologies and algorithms using intraoperative imaging to enable precise tumor resection. I will share specific surgical examples where we have shown the utility of intraoperative imaging to accurately localize and excise the tumor while preventing damage to the surrounding anatomy. The talk will also describe the use of virtual reality devices for surgical and diagnostic applications to provide context specific information to the user.”

– Jayender Jagadeesan, PhD, BWH Department of Radiology


McAllister, Sandra PhD“For some breast cancer patients, there is no evidence that their cancer has spread at the time when they are originally diagnosed, yet these patients will return to the oncology clinic months, years, or even decades later with recurrent breast cancer that has spread throughout the body. At this point, reactive and ineffective chemotherapy is often the only treatment approach available to these patients. The work in our lab has revealed that some, but not all, dormant breast cancer cells respond to the body’s systemic cues to convert to a malignant state.   These preclinical studies conducted in our laboratory are beginning to suggest completely new diagnostic and treatment strategies that would allow oncologists to more accurately identify breast cancer patients who are likely to suffer from disease relapse and to identify new treatment therapies that can be given to those patients before their disease returns.”

-Sandra McAllister, PhD, BWH Department of Medicine


LWT_Lin“One of the major issues that clinicians face after radiotherapy of low grade brain tumors is ‘pseudo-progression’ in which the early stages after treatment can show changes in the MRI that suggest tumor progression but may instead be just radiation-related changes and not recurrence. Recent studies have shown that a genetic mutation common in low grade tumors produces a specific chemical that can be detected by magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or what we call a virtual biopsy, a method that uses clinical MRI scanners to measure brain chemistry. With the support of the Brigham’s Innovation Hub and Department of Radiology, we have developed a prototype that will allow for the visualization and automation of this measurement so that it can be widely used by clinicians to improve diagnosis, prognosis, and ultimately patient quality of life and reduced health care costs.”

-Alexander Lin, PhD, BWH Department of Radiology


LWT_PaulShyn“Although uncommon, life-threatening bleeding following image-guided biopsies of the liver, kidney and spleen unfortunately occurs in about 1 percent of cases. When bleeding complications occur, major escalations of care may be required. The costs of routine pre-procedure testing for bleeding risks and the frequent use of blood transfusions to mitigate bleeding risks are not insignificant and not without risks of their own. Our team has proposed a cost-effective technological solution that can be used with almost any commercially available biopsy needle system to reduce the risk of bleeding from solid organ biopsies and to reduce the need for pre-procedure testing or transfusions. An added benefit of the device is its utility in preventing tumor seeding of the biopsy needle track.”

-Paul Shyn, MD, Department of Radiology


Want to hear more about these and other advances in the field of cancer? Read more and register for the World Medical Innovation Forum here.