Four provocative reasons why you should attend Origins of Cancer

By Nicole Vander Schaaf and Abbey Solitro
VAIGS graduate students and co-organizers of Origins of Cancer 2017

Perplexing, exciting, controversial—these words describe this year’s Origins of Cancer symposium, which will feature topics from the National Cancer Institute’s Provocative Questions Initiative. Here’s a sneak peek at the day’s highlights:

What molecular features distinguish benign proliferative diseases and pre-malignant states?
(Drs. Chetan Bettagowda and Lisa A. Boardman)

The key to overcoming an enemy is to first know the enemy. In patients that present with early-stage cancer, it can often be difficult to predict whether the disease will progress to an aggressive tumor or remain in a benign state. We’ll discuss emerging clues of how to make these predictions and the implications they have on patient treatment.

How do variations in tumor-associated immune response impact cancer risk, occurrence or progression? (Drs. Timothy A. Chan and Lyse A. Norian)

Regardless of cancer type, the buzzword in the field of research is “immunity.” Does it help? Does it hurt? Do cancer cells hijack our immune systems? Our speakers will shed light on recent developments in tumor-associated immunity and the pros and cons of immunotherapy.

What models can be developed to study clinically stable disease and the transition to progressive disease? (Dr. Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue)

Without robust models of cancer, our hopes of finding cures are limited. From computer simulations to three-dimensional tissue culture, we’ll debate the most effective ways to replicate human disease in the lab.

How does the microbiome affect the response to cancer therapies? (Drs. Scott Bultman and Chrystal Paulos)

Do you know what’s in your gut? This year we’ll discuss the importance of the microscopic critters that reside in the gastrointestinal tract, not only for maintenance of health, but for tolerance of and response to common cancer treatments.


Origins of Cancer: Tackling Provocative Questions will be held Friday, July 21 at Van Andel Research Institute. To learn more or register, please visit www.originsofcancer.org.