Pancreatic Cancer Research Focus of Presentations at Downtown Campus
Renowned medical professionals and researchers emphasized the importance of sustained private funding of initiatives that advance pancreatic cancer treatment and research, during a public presentation in Penn State Altoona’s Devorris Downtown Center.
The April 5 event, coordinated by the Greg and Cathy Griffith Family Foundation (griffithfamilyfoundation.org), featured the official launch of the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer, a collaboration of foundations and benefactors that supports the pioneering research of Dr. A. James Moser and his colleagues at hospitals and medical schools across the country. One of three keynote presenters at the event, Dr. Moser is executive director of the new Institute for Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Moser’s team is gathering and analyzing data from pancreatic cancer surgery at eleven large hospitals across the country. Researchers will use results from genetic analysis of surgically removed tumors to enhance patient treatment. The Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer will fund the genetic portion of the tumor analysis.
The first presenter of the evening was Jack Andraka, developer of a test for pancreatic cancer that is cheaper, faster, more accurate, and less invasive than current tests. The test is subject to pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Andraka was 15 when he won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest high school science research competition. Over 1,500 students from seventy countries entered the fair.
Dr. Ralph D. McKibbin, a partner and practicing physician with Altoona-based Blair Gastroenterology Associates, provided context with a historical summary and statistical case analysis of pancreatic cancer.
During separate afternoon sessions in the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Penn State Altoona students and students from area high schools participated in panel discussions with Andraka; Dr. McKibbin; Cathy Griffith, founder and chairman of the Griffith Family Foundation; and Dr. Siyang Zheng, Penn State assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering. The discussions focused on multi-disciplinary approaches to cancer research and treatment.
Penn State Altoona was one of seven sponsors of the event.
Tell us what you think of Jack Andraka’s remarkable enterprise at IvyLink@psu.edu.