While competition can be healthy, it is collaboration among researchers that is more likely to be the key to finding new treatments, therapies and a cure for cancer.
“I think it is a very good way to share differing approaches to help us understand the views and priorities of our neighbors and what they envision for the future of cancer,” said Dr. José R. Conejo-Garcia, chair of the Department of Immunology at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Science goes through collaboration much more quickly, so I think retreats like this are a great initiative.”
The retreat he was referring to was the 2nd Southeast Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, and Inflammation Research Retreat hosted by the Georgia Cancer Center on September 21 – 22. Researchers from the University of South Carolina and the Hollings Cancer Center at The Medical University of South Carolina joined those from the Georgia Cancer Center to share what advances are being made when it comes to cancer care. Conejo-Garcia served as the keynote speaker
In addition to bringing cancer immunology faculty of the three institutions together, the retreat was attended by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom participated in the retreat’s poster competition.
“I personally think learning opportunities like this one are super important,” said Daniel Swafford, a graduate student in Dr. Santhakumar Manicassamy’s laboratory in the Georgia Cancer Center. “I believe each research program has its own strengths that when in collaboration with other programs can lead to collaborative efforts that will only further strengthen the research goals.”
Keynote speaker Conejo-Garcia is a field leader who studies ovarian cancer and the role the SATB1 protein plays in immunosuppression and the inflammatory response within tumors. His talk set the stage for a program consisting of 14 presentations over the two days. Topics included research on specific cancers as well as on a variety of immunotherapeutic strategies.
One presentation that showed just how powerful collaboration can be was based on a partnership between Dr. Yukai He of the Georgia Cancer Center and Dr. Zihai Li, chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Cancer Immunology Program Leader at the Hollings Cancer Center. The two shared an early look at their research into CAR-T cells used in immunotherapy, a project that emerged from a collaboration formed at the first SCIIIRR.
Retreat participants are eager to build and solidify new networking opportunities and partnerships, working toward immunotherapeutic solutions to cancer.