Cancer Commons is a collaboration of leading cancer scientists and clinicians with proactive cancer patients, aimed at leveraging the collective knowledge and resources of the entire Cancer Community. Cancer Commons is governed by an elite advisory board, chaired by George Lundberg, MD, former Editor-in-Chief of JAMA as well as WebMD’s online properties including Medscape and e-Medicine. Its members include a former FDA commissioner and former editor of science, the immediate past presidents of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the president emeritus of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the current director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Comprehensive Cancer Center and president designate of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the founder of the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR), the largest online community for cancer patients, as well as proven leaders from academia, clinical practice, basic and clinical research, journalism, publishing, writing, education, administration, communications, patient advocacy, industry, the internet community, ethics, medical associations, and government.
Douglas Blayney, MD
Douglas W. Blayney, MD is the Ann and John Doerr Medical Director of the Stanford University Cancer Center and a Professor of Internal Medicine. He is immediate past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He came to Stanford after 7 years in a similar position at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; previously he was with Wilshire Oncology Medical Group in Pasadena, California, where he practiced for 17 years. Dr. Blayney has served on the FDA’s Oncology Drug Advisory Committee, as founding editor-in-chief of ASCO’s Journal of Oncology Practice, and was a founder of ASCO’s internet site, Asco.org. He has authored or coauthored over fifty peer reviewed journal articles, and co-edited one book. His current research involves measuring and improving quality of cancer care using information technology. Dr. Blayney received a degree in electrical engineering from Stanford, went on to the University of California, San Diego, from which he received his medical degree in 1977, and was an intern and resident in internal medicine at their University of California hospitals. He trained in oncology at the National Cancer Institute and is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.
Susan Cohn, MD
Susan L. Cohn, MD, is a highly respected expert in pediatric cancers and blood diseases. She is a leading authority on neuroblastoma, a cancer of nerve cells, and the most common type of cancer found in infants. Dr. Cohn is actively researching several aspects of neuroblastoma. She is one of the few pediatric oncologists in the U.S. who is conducting phase I clinical trials of promising treatments for the disease. Her research has received generous support from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
George Demetri, MD
Dr. George Demetri received an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Harvard University, followed by a Rotary Foundation fellowship to do research at the Université de Besancon, France, after which he received his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine, California. After completing his internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Washington Hospitals in Seattle, Washington, he pursued a fellowship in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Harvard Medical School, where he has served as an attending physician since 1989. Dr. Demetri and colleagues at Harvard have developed a large research-focused multidisciplinary center of excellence for sarcoma patients at the DFCI/Harvard Cancer Center, supporting a number of translational and clinical research projects in sarcomas and focusing on new drug development. Dr. Demetri’s research and clinical interests have focused on mechanism-based drug development for solid tumors, with a particular emphasis on molecularly defined subsets of sarcomas such as gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Work from the multidisciplinary team at DFCI/Harvard Medical School has contributed to the development of several new drugs for sarcomas and other malignancies, including imatinib (Gleevec), sunitinib (Sutent), dasatinib (Sprycel), trabectedin (Yondelis) and other new targeted therapies in development. Dr Demetri serves as co-chair of the Medical Advisory Board for the Sarcoma Foundation of America as well as several scientific and editorial advisory boards. With an interest in internet-based patient support, he also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of CancerNet from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Laura Esserman, MD
Dr. Laura Esserman is a breast surgeon and Director of the Breast Care Center. She specialized in breast cancer research and treatment because she saw great opportunities to advance our knowledge and treatment of breast cancer and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of women who have breast disease. Her overall vision‹as demonstrated by such initiatives as a healing garden, an art therapy program for patients, and a same day assessment program‹is to develop state-of-the-art ways to care for and empower patients during their treatment. Dr. Esserman received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her medical and surgical training from Stanford University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in breast oncology at Stanford University in 1988 and received an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1993. She joined the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) faculty in 1993. Dr. Esserman has received many honors for her work, a grant to establish a state-of-the-art breast center and breast cancer research foundation—one of three major Department of Defense grants awarded in the U.S. in 1998. She is also Clinical Director of the Breast Oncology Research Program at UCSF.
David Fisher, MD, PhD
David E. Fisher, MD, PhD is a researcher, clinician, and academic, who is Chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. He also serves as Director of the MGH Cutaneous Biology Research Center and Director of the Melanoma Center at MGH. Fisher’s research has focused on understanding the molecular and genetic events that underlie formation of melanoma as well as skin pigmentation. As a clinician, he has worked to translate these understandings into advances in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of human diseases related to the skin and associated disorders. A graduate of Swarthmore College with a degree in Biology and Chemistry, Fisher is also an concert cellist and received a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his PhD under Nobel Laureate Gunter Blobel at Rockefeller University and his MD at Cornell University Medical College. Fisher’s specialty training in medicine, pediatrics, and oncology were carried out at Harvard Medical School, followed by postdoctoral studies with Phillip Sharp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research interests span examination of molecular events controlling mammalian gene expression and their integration into diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities focused on human disease.
Keith Flaherty, MD
Dr. Flaherty received a BS from Yale University and MD from Johns Hopkins University. He trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and completed a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the faculty in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor of medicine and member of the Developmental Therapeutics Program in the Abramson Cancer Center in 2002. In 2009, Dr. Flaherty moved to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School to serve as the Director of Developmental Therapeutics for the MGH Cancer Center. He was awarded a K23 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate the inhibition of angiogenesis with targeted therapy combinations in melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. In addition to being principal investigator of numerous first-in-human clinical trials with novel targeted therapies, he is the principal investigator of two national, cooperative group trials: E2603, a phase III trial comparing sorafenib, carboplatin, and paclitaxel to carboplatin and paclitaxel alone in patients with metastatic melanoma and E2804, a randomized phase II trial comparing combinations of antiangiogenic agents in metastatic renal cell carcinoma. He served as principal investigator for the first-in-human clinical trials of the first prospectively developed selective BRAF inhibitors, RAF-265 and PLX4032. PLX4032 has emerged as the most active single-agent therapy ever evaluated in metastatic melanoma patients and is rapidly being tested in a phase III trial of which Dr. Flaherty serves as co-principal investigator. He is internationally known for expertise in clinical and translational research directed against signal transduction pathways in melanoma.
Gilles Frydman is a pioneer of medical online communities. After working on government research programs involving telecommunication technology, he founded the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) [*] in 1995, after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. ACOR was designed to leverage the communication tools on the Internet to optimize the care received by cancer patients worldwide. A founding member of the Cook’s Branch Initiative (a group formed by the late Dr. Tom Ferguson to promote a model of active patient participation in their care) Gilles has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the online patient. He has served on a number of communication expert groups at the National Cancer Institute. He currently serves on a number of advocacy and advisory committees in support of patient-centered computing. He consults, with Google and other Internet corporations, about the importance of the networked patients and the central role of the Internet in the long tail of medicine. He is a founding editor of the Journal of Participatory Medicine and founding member and current president of the Society for Participatory Medicine. His current projects are all related to the role of online virtual environments to facilitate and improve healthcare and promote accelerated scientific discoveries. [* To this day ACOR, after serving over 650,000 cancer patients and caregivers, remains the largest online social network for cancer patients, composed of close to 200 separate online support groups for individuals with cancer.]
James Heywood is Co-Founder and Chair of PatientsLikeMe and d’Arbeloff Founding Director of the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). As a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineer, Jamie entered the field of translational research and medicine when his brother Stephen was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1998 at the age of 29. Since that time, Jamie’s scientific and business innovations have been transforming the intersection of biotechnology and pharmaceutical development, personalized medicine, and patient care. As chair of PatientsLikeMe, Jamie provides the scientific vision and architecture for its patient-centered medical platform. He co-founded the company in 2005 with his youngest brother, Benjamin, and friend, Jeff Cole. Named one of “15 companies that will change the world” by CNNMoney, PatientsLikeMe is a personalized research and peer care platform that allows patients to share in-depth information on treatments, symptoms, and outcomes. In 1999, Jamie founded ALS TDI, the world’s first nonprofit biotechnology company, where he served as CEO until 2007. Pioneering an open research model and an industrialized therapeutic validation process, Jamie led ALS TDI to become the largest and most comprehensive ALS research program. A published author, frequent speaker, media pundit, and active investment advisor, Jamie speaks at conferences around the world, including TEDMED, Milken Global Conference, Gov 2.0, Personal Democracy Forum, Institute of Medicine, NIH Directors’ Lecture, and MGH Grand Rounds. Jamie’s work has been profiled in the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, BusinessWeek, 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, NPR, Science, and Nature, and he was named to WIRED’s 2009 “Smart List” and Fast Company’s “10 Most Creative People in Healthcare.” Jamie and his brother Stephen were the subjects of Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Wiener’s biography, His Brother’s Keeper and the Sundance award- winning documentary, “So Much So Fast.”
Stephanie Jeske, MD
Dr. Stephanie Jeske is a hematologist/oncologist practicing for Sutter Health in the San Francisco office. She has a special focus on breast cancer and gynecologic malignancies (ovarian, cervical, and endometrial). Dr. Jeske attended Indiana University for both her undergraduate education and for medical school. She did her residency at University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine and her oncology training at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, in parallel with a Masters degree in Clinical Research. Prior to joining Sutter she was at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara office, where she chaired the breast cancer program and was also instrumental in scaling clinical trials across the Kaiser system in Northern California. She remains active in clinical research, with an emphasis on breast cancer.
Donald Kennedy, PhD
Donald Kennedy received AB and PhD degrees in biology from Harvard University and has served on the faculty of Stanford University from 1960 to the present. He served as chair of the Department of Biology from 1964 to 1972, and as director of the Program in Human Biology from 1973 to 1977. He was commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1977 to 1979 and president of Stanford University from 1980 to 1992. His present research program (see above) is conducted as a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment. Professor Kennedy is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He served on the National Commission for Public Service and the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government as a founding director of the Health Effects Institute; as a director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and as co-chair of the National Academies’ Project on Science, Technology, and Law. Professor Kennedy served as editor-in-chief of Science from 2000 to 2008.
Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, FACP
Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, is a professor of medicine in the University of Southern California (USC) Departments of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, Scientific Director of the Cancer Genetics Unit and Director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, and Co-Director of the Colorectal Center at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Lenz earned his MD degree at the Johannes-Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany. In 1991, he completed his internship, residency, and fellowship training at the Eberhardt Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany. He had special fellowship training at Universität Wien (Austria), George Washington University, and Harvard Medical School. In 1991, he received the prestigious Research Fellowship Award from the Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid) in Bonn, Germany. He completed his research fellowship in biochemistry and molecular biology at the USC/Norris Cancer Center before joining the faculty of USC in 1994. He was awarded a Career Development Award from STOP CANCER (1994-1997). Based on his research, he also received in 1994 a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). In 1995, Dr. Lenz was selected for the prestigious ASCO Career Development Award. The National Cancer Institute funded laboratory of Dr. Lenz has been interested in the identification and determination of molecular markers in precancerous and cancerous tissues that might predict for cancer risk and clinical outcome in gastrointestinal and breast cancer. Dr. Lenz is also the Institutional Principal Investigator on the UO1/NIH contract (California Cancer Consortium) in collaboration with City of Hope and University of California, Davis, which allows him to design innovative clinical trials with novel promising anticancer drugs.
Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, DSc (Hon)
Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, DSc (Hon), was Director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, a multidisciplinary research and clinical care organization that is one of the largest cancer centers in the Western U.S, and he was also Associate Dean of the UCSF School of Medicine. A native of Cambridge, England, Dr. McCormick received his BSc in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (1972) and his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge (1975). Postdoctoral fellowships were held in the U.S at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and in London, UK, at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He has been a fellow of the Royal Society since 1996. Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, Dr. McCormick pursued cancer-related work with several Bay Area biotechnology firms, including positions with Cetus Corporation (Director of Molecular Biology, 1981-90; Vice-President of Research, 1990-91) and Chiron Corporation, where he was a vice-president of research from 1991-92. In 1992, he founded Onyx Pharmaceuticals and served as its chief scientific officer until 1996. Dr. McCormick’s current research interests center on the fundamental differences between normal cells and cancer cells that can allow the development of novel therapeutic strategies. In addition to the positions he has held at UCSF, he holds the E. Dixon Heise Distinguished Professorship in Oncology and the David A. Wood Distinguished Professorship of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research in UCSF’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. McCormick is the author of more than 270 scientific publications.
Ravi Salgia, MD, PhD
Ravi Salgia, MD, PhD, is a tenured professor of medicine, pathology, and dermatology and Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program and Aerodigestive Tract Program Translational Research Lab in the Section of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Illinois. Dr. Salgia is also an attending physician in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, University of Chicago. Dr Salgia is a member of the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research, and International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, among others. He is also a member of the Committee on Cancer Biology and Clinical Trials Review Committee at the University of Chicago. Dr Salgia’s research interests focus on novel therapeutics against lung cancer. He has been an invited lecturer to more than 300 symposia and seminars. Dr Salgia has been honored with numerous awards, including recently being named one of the Top Doctors in America. Dr Salgia is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Carcinogenesis, Update on Cancer Therapeutics, and Current Women’s Health Reviews. He also serves as associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology, and Oncology. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, 125 abstracts, and 30 book chapters. Dr Salgia earned a medical degree from Loyola University School of Medicine in Chicago, where he also obtained a doctorate of philosophy. He did his internship/residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He also did his medical oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Harvard Medical School. He was on faculty at the DFCI for a decade before moving to the University of Chicago.
Laura J. van ‘t Veer, PhD
Laura van ‘t Veer received her MSc degree in Biology (1984) at the University of Amsterdam and a PhD in Medicine (1989) at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. She did her postdoctoral training at the Cancer Center of the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, (1989-1991) and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (1992-1993). From 1993 until 2007, she initiated and held the positions of head of molecular pathology and head of the Genetic Counseling Clinic at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. In 2003, she was one of the founders of the Netherlands Cancer Institute spinoff, the molecular profiling company Agendia. From 2007 to 2010, she became division head of diagnostic oncology, including clinical operations and research of five clinical departments. Since 2010, she is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she leads the Breast Oncology Program. Dr. van ‘t Veer is first author of a study showing that microarray genomics technology can predict which breast tumors will likely metastasize and which will not (Nature, 2002; NEJM, 2002). When these findings are implemented into daily clinical practice, the amount of so-called adjuvant treatments with chemotherapy for (premenopausal) breast cancer patients could be reduced by up to 30%. This microarray test now called MammaPrint, is central to the work of the translational research network TRANSBIG (Translational Research Breast International Group). The MINDACT trial is worldwide the first large-scale clinical trial implementing genomics. MammaPrint is an FDA-cleared in vitro diagnostic multigene index assay (IVDMIA), included in several international and national guidelines for breast cancer management. At UCSF, she coordinates the tissue and biomarker activities of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health-sponsored multicenter adaptive clinical trial I-SPY. Dr. van ‘t Veer received for this work the 2007 European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Lifetime Achievement Award for translational research in breast cancer.
John Wilbanks is Vice-President for Science at Creative Commons. He was previously a fellow at the World Wide Web Consortium in Semantic Web for Life Sciences and founded and led to acquisition Incellico, a bioinformatics company that built semantic graph networks for use in pharmaceutical research and development. Before moving into technology, he was the first assistant director at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and also worked in U.S. politics as a legislative aide to U.S. Representative Fortney (Pete) Stark. John holds a BA in Philosophy from Tulane University and studied modern letters at the Universite de Paris IV (La Sorbonne). He serves on the Board of Directors for Sage BioNetworks, DuraSpacem, and AcaWiki.
Peter Paul Yu, MD
Peter Yu is the 2014-2015 President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He is in clinical practice at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), a multi-specialty medical group serving the San Francisco Bay area. Dr. Yu is Director of Cancer Research at PAMF and graduated from the combined undergraduate and medical school program in Medicine at Brown University. His residency was at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City where he was Chief Resident. After a fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center (NYC), Peter completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (NYC) in the laboratory of Dr. John Mendelsohn. He is board certified in both Medical Oncology and Hematology. He has served as president of the Association of Northern California Oncologists, chief of Medicine at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, member of the Board of Directors of Pathways Homecare and Hospice, and is a member of the Audit Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.
Peter is past-chair of the ASCO HIT Work Group. Past ASCO activities have included chair of the Clinical Practice Committee, member of the Cancer Research, Information Technology, Grant Selection, Audit, and Nominating Committees, chair of the Best of ASCO San Francisco 2005, chair of ASCO EHR Symposium 2009, Annual Meeting Educational Session Chair 2007, 2009 ,and 2010, and faculty of the Clinical Trials for the Community Oncology Team Workshop 2005.
He has also served as co-chair of the Commission for Certification of Health Information Technology (CCHIT) Oncology work group, co-chair of the AMA-RAND Clinical Decision Support Oncology work group under contract to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, co-chair of the ASCO-NCI CORE project, and has participated in several Institute of Medicine health information technology workshops.
Emeritus Advisory Board
Frederick Appelbaum, MD
Arthur Caplan, PhD
Erica Frank, MD, MPH
Scott Gottlieb, MD
Joan S. McClure, MS
David G. Nathan, MD
Jared Schwartz, MD
Thomas Stossel, MD