Tomstock: 5 Years of “Rockin’ for a Cure”

Last Saturday, Cancer Commons joined nearly 2,000 guests in Independence, MO, for a day full of music and celebration. Called Tomstock, this private, annual music festival raised more than $100,000 for the H8 Cancer Foundation, which in turn generously supports Cancer Commons.

Tomstock began five years ago when longtime friends Tom and Carman Duvall, and Kiers and Steve Rowley decided to host an event to support patients dealing with cancer. Since then, the festival has grown in both size and impact; since its first year, it has raised more than $500K.

In May of this year, the Cancer Commons staff was deeply saddened to learn that Kiers, who had used our ASK Cancer Commons service for her own disease, had passed away from cancer. Last year at Tomstock 2017, Kiers had joined one of the performing bands in a duet of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” This year, her daughter Chandler sang the same song in a touching tribute.

In the spirit of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” we at Cancer Commons are extremely grateful to the H8 Cancer Foundation for its support, to the Rowley and Duvall families, and to every rocker who attended Tomstock 2018. We hope the Tomstock story inspires you to join the Cancer Commons family in contributing to better treatment options for all cancer patients.


Click here to donate now.

For more photos of Tomstock 2018, see’s Facebook page.

Cancer Commons Welcomes New Executive Director Erika Vial Monteverdi

Cancer Commons is happy to announce that Erika Vial Monteverdi has accepted the new position of Executive Director. Erika has played a central role at the organization since 2016. As Executive Director, she is now responsible for overseeing the growth and operations of Cancer Commons, one of Silicon Valley’s only nonprofits focused on serving cancer patients globally through aligning incentives around the patient to produce better outcomes.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity and confident I’ll make a significant and lasting impact on the organization as we work towards our vision of transforming oncology and delivering on our mission to give people who have cancer their lives back,” Erika says.

In her new position, Erika will work to maintain and advance Cancer Commons’ role as one of the leading cancer knowledge networks today. This network brings together the world’s top cancer experts, advisors, pharmaceutical innovators, oncologists, and patient communities, all focused on delivering the best treatment option to each person with cancer, at a global scale.

Erika earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego, where she double majored in Political Science and Economics, and received her International MBA from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. Erika is fluent in three languages, a mother of three, and is committed to helping the lives of others while making an impact on the organizations she serves.

See Erika on LinkedIn.

Marty Tenenbaum Speaks at MIT/Washington University Conference on Biomedical Innovation

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, Ph.D., spoke on May 31 at Washington University in St. Louis during an invitation-only conference focused on new approaches to biomedical innovation. Marty, who founded Cancer Commons after his own battle with melanoma, participated in the “Opportunities and Challenges in Oncology Therapeutic Development” session, which explored promising new innovations that have not yet received the attention they merit.

During the session, Marty discussed the promise of Virtual Trials and Conditional Approval. Virtual Trials capture treatment and outcome data at the point of care, and use that information to inform future treatment decisions, thereby transforming the everyday practice of oncology into a global adaptive search for better treatments and cures. Conditional Approval facilitates drug access by creating a new regulatory pathway whereby any physician can treat an advanced cancer patient with promising investigational drugs that have demonstrated safety and a biological effect in a small group of patients.

Marty Tenenbaum to Speak at Stanford AI Salon on May 11

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, Ph.D., will speak May 11 at the Stanford AI Salon, a regular event hosted by the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Marty, who founded Cancer Commons after his own battle with melanoma, will discuss the potential for artificial intelligence to help find better cancer treatments in a talk titled “How can AI cure cancer?”

According to the event website, “AI Salon is a roughly bi-weekly event on Fridays where the AI Lab gathers to discuss high-level topics in AI and machine learning. The goal is to encourage ourselves to think beyond our individual day-to-day research, and better see how our work fits into the long-term trajectory of scientific progress, and into society as a whole. Each Salon has a different topic for discussion, which is led by two speakers: typically one expert guest, and one AI Lab member. We hold the event in the spirit of Enlightenment-era salons, with no electronics or whiteboard allowed: only free-ranging discussion among attendees, starting with a 10-minute opening statement from the two speakers.”

Marty’s talk takes place on May 11 at 3:45 pm. Learn more about AI Salon.

Marty Tenenbaum to Speak at Bio-IT World Conference on May 16

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, Ph.D., will speak at the upcoming Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston, which runs May 15 to 18. Marty, who founded Cancer Commons after his own battle with melanoma, will discuss the potential for artificial intelligence to help find better cancer treatments.

Read the synopsis of Marty’s presentation, entitled “Can AI Beat Cancer?“:

AI can beat go and drive cars, but can it beat cancer? Every year, many thousands of cancer patients die unnecessarily because their doctors do not know the optimal way to treat them with currently available therapies. Physicians and patients alike struggle with information overload and conflicting expert opinions in making treatment decisions. Moreover, effective treatments increasingly involve intelligently designed, individually tailored, sequences and combinations, and there are far more plausible multi-drug regimens than can be efficiently tested in clinical trials. AI can help by connecting physicians and patients to the right information at the right time, and by planning and coordinating the thousands of formal and informal treatment experiments that take place daily in oncology, to optimize individual outcomes and maximize collective knowledge. We will describe a developing global collaboration to realize this bold vision, involving leading oncologists, cancer and data scientists, and AI experts from both academia and industry, and discuss opportunities for all to participate.

Marty’s talk takes place on May 16 at 11:00am. Learn more about the conference.

Marty Tenenbaum to Speak at Bridging Clinical Collaborative on April 4

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, PhD, will speak next week on at the Bridging Clinical Research & Clinical Health Care Collaborative in National Harbor, Maryland. His presentation will be featured in a session focused on precision oncology, which runs from 3:30 to 5:00 pm on Wednesday April 4.

The Bridging Clinical Research & Clinical Health Care Collaborative is “the only forum where clinical research and health care professionals come together to envision a collaborative solution that strengthens the connection between clinical research and health care.” Learn more about the event at

Cancer Commons Founder and Medical Director Discuss the Future of Precision Medicine

A presentation by Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, PhD, was well-received last month at the Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in Silicon Valley. His talk, “How AI will Cure Cancer,” discussed the role of artificial intelligence in finding better cancer treatments.

In a separate event at the same conference, Cancer Commons medical director Kevin Knopf, MD, spoke about the future of personalized medicine as part of a panel organized by Johns Hopkins Medicine. A video of the discussion is available here; skip ahead to 20:52 and 38:45 to hear Dr. Knopf’s perspective.

Learn more about PMWC.


Marty Tenenbaum to Speak at Precision Medicine World Conference on Jan 23

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, Ph.D., will speak at the upcoming Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in Silicon Valley, which runs Jan 22–24. Marty, who founded Cancer Commons after his own battle with melanoma, will discuss the potential for artificial intelligence to help find better cancer treatments.

Read the synopsis of Marty’s presentation, entitled “How AI will Cure Cancer”:

From an AI perspective, finding effective treatments for cancer is a high-dimensional probabilistic planning, search, and optimization problem, characterized by many molecularly distinct cancer subtypes and potential drug combinations, and a dearth of high quality data connecting them to clinical responses. Many organizations are developing relevant AI-based applications, from decision support tools to treatment planning. We will describe a bold industry-wide initiative to integrate these capabilities for the immediate benefit of patients and physicians, and moderate an open discussion toward catalyzing an active AI-and-cancer community.

Marty’s talk takes place on Jan 23 at 4:45 pm. If you’d like to attend, register using this link for a 5% discount.

Cancer Commons Scientist & Project Manager Lisandra West-Odell Writes About the Power of Data Analytics

In a new guest blog post for CollabRx, Cancer Commons scientist and project manager Lisandra West-Odell discusses how we’re harnessing the power of data analytics to improve treatment for cancer patients, starting with brain cancer:

“I am reminded of the old adage: ‘Lessons come from the journey, not the destination.’ Where one patient’s story can only exist as an anecdote, many stories can be organized into larger buckets or cohorts elevating them to a higher level of evidence.”

Click here to read the full post.