I attended my first Think Tank in 2012 and the energy and enthusiasm were inspiring. As a community, it often feels as if bladder cancer is overlooked or ignored. At the Think Tank, it is abundantly clear that there are so many dedicated physicians and researchers who are committed to improving the quality of life for those living with the disease. The robust discussions through the panels and working groups often lead to new innovations and collaborations.
The Think Tank will open with a keynote address on “Greatest Challenges and Opportunities in Oncology,” from Clifford Hudis, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. There will be panels focused on immunotherapy, multidisciplinary approaches to address unmet clinical needs in the elderly, an interactive session on smoking cessation and bladder cancer, and targeting novel pathways in bladder cancer. I’m looking forward to seeing presentations from this year’s four John Quale Travel Fellows. This is a great opportunity for early career investigators to attend the meeting, share their work and learn from leaders in the field.
I’d like to thank the Think Tank Steering Committee, led by Andrea Apolo, Program Chair; Ashish Kamat, Program Co-Chair; and Yair Lotan, Committee Chair; the Working Group Chairs and our distinguished speakers. We are grateful for their leadership and dedication.
One of the most important aspects of the Think Tank is the inclusion of patient advocates. While these scientific discussions are important, we cannot forget the role of the patients – their concerns, thoughts and feedback help shape future research and educational programs. Patient advocates have the opportunity to hear about the latest in bladder cancer treatment and research. The patient advocates are able to share their stories and make it personal for physicians and researchers attending the meeting.
Another key element of the meeting is bringing together researchers from different institutions to share ideas, best practices and research. The meeting fosters collaboration between medical professionals and researchers at participating institutions. The Think Tank has engaged experts from around the world. This year there will be attendees from Europe and Canada at the meeting.
I’m headed to sunny San Diego, but when I return, I will have a lot of information to share. Check the BCAN website, Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on the Bladder Cancer Think Tank. As always, stay classy San Diego.