Cancer Commons Community Member Spotlight: Sheri Sobrato Brisson


Since the beginning of high school, Cancer Commons supporter Sheri Sobrato Brisson has been working with families facing pediatric illness. “As soon as I was 16, I started volunteering in hospitals with kids with cancer, not knowing that I would grow up one day to be one of those patients myself,” she says.

At the age of 24, Sheri faced her own diagnosis: a brain tumor. Now a long-term survivor—Sheri celebrates 30 years of survivorship on May 7—she continues to dedicate her time, energy, and resources to helping children with serious diseases and their families. Continue reading…


Marty Tenenbaum to Speak at Precision Medicine World Conference on May 24

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, Ph.D., will speak at the upcoming Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in Durham, NC, which runs May 24–25. Marty, who founded Cancer Commons after his own battle with melanoma, will discuss the organization’s ongoing efforts to address challenges to knowledge-sharing in precision oncology.

Read the synopsis of Marty’s presentation, entitled “Is An Additional Path to FDA Approval Possible?”:

This talk will explore the question: When faced with certain death, it is acceptable to accept less than 100% proven safety and efficacy?  Patients with glioblastoma and certain other cancers with dire prognoses do not have the time to wait for new treatments to be fully approved by the FDA.  Is it time to add “conditional approval” as an additional pathway to approval for these patients? In this session, a plan will be proposed by which the FDA could conditionally approve a treatment that has been proven safe in a clinical trial(s) with at least 25 patients, and has demonstrated biologic activity. Therefore, this treatment could not be denied by insurance as being “experimental”.  However, the requires patients using these drugs to participate in a registry through which their physicians submit details on the treatments, side effects and outcomes. The FDA’s periodic review of the registry data would lead  to a range of outcomes from full approval to the conditional approval being revoked.

Marty’s talk takes place on May 24 at 2:45 pm. For more information, visit the PMWC website.


Cancer Commons Medical Director Kevin Knopf to Speak at TiEcon 2017

Oncologist and Cancer Commons Medical Director Kevin Knopf, MD, will speak next month at TiEcon 2017, a technology conference in Santa Clara, CA. He’ll join three other experts to discuss the future of personalized medicine. From the program:

A new era of personalized medicine has made its way into the world of healthcare. We will discuss novel approaches for designing disease treatment and prevention that integrates with an individual’s genetic profile, environment and lifestyle.The future is here — let’s hear from industry luminaries on how digital health entrepreneurs and the healthcare industry as a whole are preparing for massive disruption.

Kevin’s presentation will take place on May 5 at 3:00 pm. For more information, visit the TiEcon website.

 


Cancer Commons Community Member Spotlight: Nancy Kanwisher


Ask MIT Neuroscientist Dr. Nancy Kanwisher what the most fascinating discovery about the human brain is in her eyes; she’ll tell you there’s a part of our brain that is selectively turned on only when we’re thinking about what other people are thinking about us. Though it was Dr. Kanwisher’s student and now colleague who made this discovery, she considers it the “coolest” of discoveries about how various areas or regions of our brains contribute to our perception of the world.

Dr. Kanwisher is a professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology and PhD in brain and cognitive sciences. At MIT, Dr. Kanwisher uses brain imaging and behavioral testing to understand the mechanisms that underline the human experience. She says that in 1981, while working as a psychologist and studying for her PhD, she read an article about brain imaging, and was hooked on learning more and uncovering the magnificent mystery of the human brain. Continue reading…


Volunteer Spotlight: Connor Sweetnam Captures Valuable Treatment Insights from ASK Cancer Commons


Volunteers are essential members of the Cancer Commons community. We are deeply grateful to those who have generously donated their time to helping us change the way the world treats cancer.

This month, we celebrate the contributions of Cancer Commons volunteer Connor Sweetnam, who uses his engineering background to extract insights from our interactions with patients so they can be leveraged to help other patients. To learn more about his work, I interviewed Connor via email.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am the oldest of three boys and have come to call the Bay Area home. I graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California in May 2016 and now work as the Facilities Assistant for a cancer immunotherapy start-up named Alexo Therapeutics. I thoroughly enjoy reading, building things, watching college football, sports, snowboarding, backpacking, scuba diving, and traveling. As a next step, I’m thinking of going to graduate school in a field related to biotechnology or engineering.

How did you find out about Cancer Commons, and what made you want to volunteer? Continue reading…


Cancer Commons Participates in Lively Discussion of Precision Medicine at PMWC 2017


Update 3-1-17: A video of this event has now been released. Watch it below.

This year’s Precision Medicine World Conference in Mountain View, California, was well-attended by many members of Cancer Commons, who shared in the scientific discoveries that will lead the way to more personalized, accurate, and effective cancer care. Precision medicine is a rapidly evolving field with many breakthroughs in science, technology, and diagnosis that is transforming the way cancer care is practiced at the bedside.

A special session was co-chaired by Cancer Commons board member Larry Marton and Lincoln Nadauld, director of the personalized oncology program at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. The session also featured Cancer Commons medical director Kevin Knopf, Mountain View oncologist Edmund Tai, and Tim Collins, who is corporate vice president of operations and research at Scripps Health in San Diego. Continue reading…


Cancer Commons Community Member Spotlight: Brit d’Arbeloff


One of Cancer Commons’ earliest and most generous supporters, Brit d’Arbeloff, is a woman of many talents who is dedicated to excellence in education. She is the first woman to earn an undergraduate mechanical engineering degree at Stanford University. In addition, she was the owner of a fashion boutique in Boston for over a decade. She also earned a graduate degree at MIT, where Marty Tenenbaum, founder and CEO of Cancer Commons, is also an alum, and where the two first met.

“The work being done by Cancer Commons is extremely important,” says Brit, whose late husband Alex was diagnosed with glioblastoma. “Cancer is not one disease but a multitude of them, and the number of treatment options using various combinations of drugs and therapies is increasing rapidly. The result is a data problem that Cancer Commons is uniquely prepared to solve with its highly qualified and experienced team of computer scientists and cancer experts.” Continue reading…


Thank You to Our 2016 Donors!


Everyone at Cancer Commons is very thankful for the outpouring of support that we received in 2016. As a nonprofit organization, we rely entirely on donations to provide cancer treatment decision support at no charge. These contributions have allowed Cancer Commons to respond to over 1,500 requests for help and will allow us to develop innovative technology to help many others in the months ahead.

Last year, our beloved 217 donors contributed over $1,391,000. This reflects double-digit growth in both the number of donors and total dollars raised. As a young organization, Cancer Commons is still growing. It’s validating to see that support is growing along with us, but we still have a long way to go and many more cancer patients to help.

We are grateful for major gifts of $10,000 or more from the following individuals and organizations: Continue reading…


Press Release: Sheri Sobrato Brisson and Eric Brisson Join Cancer Commons to Find Better Treatment Options for Children with Brain Cancer

Sheri Sobrato Brisson (Photo by Irene Searles for InMenlo.com; used
with permission)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Los Altos, California – January 25, 2017 – Cancer Commons, a nonprofit network of physicians, scientists and patients dedicated to helping each patient achieve the best possible outcome, announces the launch of a new program to identify personalized treatment options for children with brain cancer. The program is funded by a generous lead gift from Sheri Sobrato Brisson, a pediatric brain tumor survivor and advocate for children with serious illness, and her husband Eric Brisson.

“We are motivated to help children with brain cancer by giving their physicians and families access to the best treatment plans,” shares Sheri Sobrato Brisson. “Diagnosis is a frightening time, and patients and their families need help to quickly sort through vast, confusing amounts of information to assure them that they are making the best possible choices.” Continue reading…