When Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) Director Stan Gerson, MD agreed to take part in an exploratory trip to Israel this past March, he could not imagine the worldwide pandemic that would descend and shake up every aspect of the trip. While conferences were canceled, meetings were rescheduled and flights were changed, life-altering relationships were being formed.
Dr. Gerson chose an impressive team of cancer investigators to join the mission, each one unique in their ability to form collaborative relationships and realize the purpose of the trip, which was to come back with at least one project to be worked on jointly by a member of the Case CCC and a member of an Israeli research institute. The researchers from across our partnered institutions who embarked on the trip were Justin Lathia, PhD, Peter Scacheri, PhD, Anant Madabhushi, PhD, Stefanie Avril, MD, Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS and Dr. Gerson himself. Each one brought expertise in a specific area of cancer research: glioblastoma, epigenomics, artificial intelligence, gynecological cancer, blood cancers and regenerative medicine.
A whirlwind week of travel took the researchers to the Weizmann Institute, Bar Ilan University, Hebrew University, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center. While a trip was planned to the Technion, their early and sudden departure (due to COVID-19) forced them to miss that significant visit on this particular trip. At each institution, Case CCC investigators participated in roundtable discussions with their Israeli counterparts explaining their work. Several times throughout the week, excitement would spread throughout the room when a specific partnership idea would arise. Those sparks of inspiration have now formed into plans for cancer research. Some of the projects being worked on include a glioblastoma/microbiome project, analysis of a huge quantity of sarcoma tumors, artificial intelligence utilizing unique population data sets, cancer families sequencing and the creation of a gynecological oncology fellowship.
Meetings with philanthropists and community leaders are underway to ensure funding is secured and to develop a network of supporters for the collaboration. Contact Samantha Steinberg at 347.262.8833 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.