Nobel Conference 56: Cancer in the Age of Biotechnology

This schedule reflects the major events taking place on the two days of the conference. We will stream both live and pre-recorded events throughout both days of the conference. Tune in between the lectures to hear live discussions with Gustavus faculty and students who organized the conference, and to view other pieces created for the conference on topics ranging from yoga for cancer to the history of cancer. 

All lectures and speaker panel discussions sessions will be archived.

2020 Nobel Conference Program PDF
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
10:30 a.m.

Lisa Heldke, Director of Nobel Conference and Professor of Philosophy
Rebecca M. Bergman, President of the College
Laura Burrack, Assistant Professor of Biology and Dwight Stoll, Professor of Chemistry; Co-chairs of Nobel Conference 56
10:45 a.m.

Engineering the Immune System as a New Tool for Cancer Therapy
Lecture by Carl June, MD, Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine, and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: The quest to cure cancer has been one of the Holy Grails of medicine. The discovery Carl June will discuss, CAR T cells, is a promising new form of therapy of cancer that offers the prospect of curing cancer using the immune system. The notion of using the immune system to fight cancer is an old idea. Over a century ago bacteria were ground up and injected into patients with late-stage cancers in order to augment the immune system by a surgeon in New York City. However, we now have precise tools like CRISPR/Cas9 to rewrite the DNA code, offering the possibility to improve the immune system over what has evolved in a Darwinian fashion. June will discuss the promises and challenges faced by the evolving CAR T cell industry. 

11:45 a.m.

Join a live zoom discussion with other members of the virtual audience 
Hosted by a Gustavus faculty member.
When you click to watch the conference the link to the discussion will be in the schedule.

Coordinate your own discussion with friends or family.

Or, watch the stream to see additional presentations created for this year's conference. 

12:45 p.m. SESSION 2

Transformational Research in Cancer Health Disparities
Lecture by Chanita Hughes Halbert, PhD, Associate Dean for Assessment and Evaluation and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina

Abstract: Over the past two decades, research in cancer health disparities has progressed from describing black-white differences in risks and outcomes; at the same time, precision medicine is emerging as an approach for detecting, treating, and managing disease that is based on individual variation in genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. While the implementation of precision medicine into cancer care has the potential to exacerbate cancer health disparities, multilevel translational research that examines the interactive effects of biological, psychological, behavioral, and environmental factors within the context of a social determinants of health can mitigate disparities in cancer risk and outcomes. Social determinants are now recognized as playing an important role in cancer health disparities because they provide the context within which cancer develops, this disease is diagnosed and treated, and patients recover from diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Social determinants are also relevant to minority access and participation in cancer clinical trials; the emergence of frameworks, tools, and interventions for measuring and addressing the influence of social determinants of cancer risk and outcomes has the potential to transform cancer health disparities into equity in risk and outcomes through precision strategies and solutions for cancer prevention, treatment, and early detection.

1:45 p.m. 

Join a live zoom discussion with other members of the virtual audience 
Hosted by a Gustavus faculty member.
When you click to watch the conference the link to the discussion will be in the schedule.

Coordinate your own discussion with friends or family.

Or, watch the stream to see additional presentations created for this year's conference.

2:45 p.m.

Creating global access to biologic therapeutics for treating cancer and other serious diseases
Lecture by James Thomas, PhD, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Biotherapeutics, President of U.S. Operations, Just-Evotec Biologics

Abstract: Over the last 40 years, biologics have become some of the most effective treatments for a variety of diseases, offering hope for many patients who previously had no effective treatment option for their condition, especially cancer. However, the inherent complexity of the processes involved with the discovery, development, and manufacturing of these revolutionary therapeutics results in high costs to patients, often making them inaccessible to the majority of the world’s population.
Technologies that incorporate machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics (high throughput automation) in the discovery, design, and development of biologics are providing some powerful and needed solutions. In addition, as leading cancer therapeutics lose patent protection the application of these technological advances to the development and manufacture of "biosimilar" therapeutics to innovator drugs will improve access through lower cost and competition. 
While significant progress is being made, global access to these life-changing and life-saving therapeutics will require a new generation of scientists, partnerships, and business models to bring into full reality.

3:45 p.m.

A live discussion among all seven panelists, focusing on the three talks given during the day. Questions from the audience will be part of the mix. 

5:15 p.m.

A discussion with Don Myers, Director of the Hillstrom Museum, about the special exhibition "Cancer Never Had Me"

5:30 p.m.

The Now and After, Works by Alison Hiltner 
In creative conjunction with Nobel Conference 56
Hiltner says of her work "I view myself as an archeologist of science fiction exploring the media landscape of films, television and video games then intertwining these concepts with current scientific inquiry."
View the exhibit website.

7:30 p.m.

Home: An Examination of the Privilege to Live
A beautiful concert of choral works and poetry created and recorded for this year's conference.
View the concert program PDF

8:15 p.m. Broadcasting ends for the day
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Time Event
9:30 a.m.

Dwight Stoll and Laura Burrack will field questions submitted by the audience.

10:00 a.m.

Exercise Oncology: Balancing Evidence with the Need to Implement
Lecture by Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH , Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and Behavioral Research Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Penn State Cancer Institute

Abstract: In 1996 there were four randomized controlled trials that had tested the effects of exercise on outcomes within people living with and beyond cancer. By 2010, there were 82 exercise and cancer trials. But by 2018, there were over 680 trials noted in the National Library of Medicine. As a result of that exponential increase in evidence, sixteen major medical associations came together in 2018 to review the evidence and develop exercise guidance. The guidance focuses on cancer prevention, as well as cancer health related outcomes experienced within the time frame of treatment, and included statements about the need to translate the evidence base into clinical practice. There is certainly value to further scientific exploration of the dose response benefits of exercise in the setting of oncology. This must be balanced with identifying new and creative means to broadly dissemination exercise oncology programming to the benefit of people living with and beyond cancer.

11:00 a.m.

A Dialogue About The Care of the Patient
Lecture by Suzanne Chambers, PhD, RN, Dean of the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney

Abstract: In 1927 Frances Peabody, an American physician who was himself to die from cancer in that very year, wrote on “The Care of the Patient” in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “Disease in man is never exactly the same as disease in an experimental animal, for in man the disease at once affects and is affected by what we call the emotional life. Thus, the physician who attempts to take care of a patient while he neglects this factor is as unscientific as the investigator who neglects to control all the conditions that may affect his experiment.” Almost one hundred years have passed and what has changed? In the world of cancer, thanks to the efforts of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) and the many grassroots patient advocacy groups who preceded them, we have the concept of survivorship where care matters as much as cure. At the same time as the NCCS was defining cancer survivorship, psycho-oncology emerged as a new discipline in cancer care. Yet disparities still exist, people with cancer still describe care as medically focussed and uncoordinated, and unmet supportive care needs remain. In this setting a responsive and effective answer to the challenges of cancer survivorship will likely lie in community leadership, direction setting, and resourcing. The key here though will be to identify shared values that connect, strengthen and underpin action. This is where we need our new pioneers in cancer care - at the intersection of ethics and action for positive social change.

12 p.m.

Join a live zoom discussion with other members of the virtual audience 
Hosted by a Gustavus faculty member.When you click to watch the conference the link to the discussion will be in the schedule.

Meet the author of Mom's Cancer, the Gustavus Reading in Common for the 2020-21 academic year. (Read this graphic work online here.)

Or, watch the stream to see additional presentations created for this year's conference. 

1:15 p.m.

Are There Magic Bullets for Cancer?
Lecture by Charles Sawyers, MD, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis, and Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Abstract: Cancer is a disease of the genome in which normal cells turn rogue if they acquire the wrong mix of genetic alterations. These alterations are called cancer drivers and we know their names thanks to the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, a collaborative data sharing project spawned by the Human Genome Project. Two cancer drugs (Herceptin and Gleevec), both developed just prior to the revolution in cancer genomics, served as early demonstrations of the potential to make drugs that specifically target cancer drivers. Those early successes, combined with our current knowledge of the complete landscape of cancer drivers, ushered in an era of explosive growth in new targeted therapy drug approvals across nearly all types of cancer. Thousands of patients have benefited from these advances, but significant challenges remain – particularly the problem of drug resistance. Similar challenges have arisen in the treatment of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis and were overcome with combination therapy. Similar efforts are underway in cancer, but the problem is more complex. This challenge will be the focus of our discussion.

2:15 p.m.

Big Data and AI: Hype? Monster? Or the Future of Healthcare?
Lecture by Bissan Al-Lazikani, PhD, Head of Data Science and Leader, Knowledge Hub Big Data Team, Institute for Cancer Research, London 

Abstract: The phrases “Big Data” and “Artificial Intelligence” are now ubiquitous in our media. Sometimes they are credited with promising medical advances; often they raise the specter of Orwell's 1984. In this talk, Dr. Al-Lazikani will attempt to separate the hype from reality, beginning by defining what these terms really mean. She will describe and illustrate how we are using Big Data and AI right now to discover new medicines for cancer. She will explain how she and other researchers combine eye-watering volumes and types of clinical information to help optimize better, kinder treatments for our patients. She will then look forward to consider the opportunities and risks these technologies present, in order to show how all of us--as average citizens--must harness and control this power to create a better and fairer healthcare future for all of us.

3:15 p.m.

A live discussion among all seven panelists, focusing on the three talks given during the day. Questions from the audience will be part of the mix.

4:30 p.m.

A live discussion with Lisa Heldke, Dwight Stoll, and Laura Burrack