The inaugural annual conference of the Global Biomarkers Consortium brought together an international panel of oncology experts to explore the rapidly evolving field of biomarker research. Cochairs of the event were Hope S. Rugo, MD, director of Breast Oncology and Clinical Trials Education at the University of California San Francisco, and Rüdiger Hehlmann, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Heidelberg. Michael Kattan, PhD, Vincent Miller, MD, Edith Perez, MD, and Charles Bennett, MD, PhD, served as session chairs.
At the conference, held March 9-11, 2012, in Orlando, Florida, a diverse field of experts addressed oncologists, hematologists, oncology nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals on a wide range of topics related to the clinical application of biomarkers in the treatment of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Conference attendees had numerous opportunities to ask questions. In addition, an audience response system provided opportunities for interactive learning experiences.
Hehlmann opened the conference with a valuable historical overview of genetic profiling and oncologic biomarkers. In discussing development of new technologies, Miller reported, “There are an unprecedented number of targeted therapies in clinical trials—about 500 targeted therapies looking at about 140 genomic alterations.” In looking forward to next-generation sequencing, Miller concluded, “So I’m really excited about these broader technologies that may allow us to help more patients and more rationally approach treating patients in the near future.”
Case studies of several types of cancer were presented by panel members. Perez presented “Evidence-Based Medicine to Translational Medicine to Personalized Medicine: A Natural Evolution,” and Beth Faiman, PhD(c), MSN, APRNBC, AOCN, discussed “Roles and Responsibilities of the Interprofessional Team.” Perez and Faiman led a group composed of several doctors who had presented case studies in a panel question- and-answer session on “Incorporating Personalized Medicine Into Practice.”
Personalized medicine based on an understanding of predictive molecular biomarkers holds great promise. Conferences such as this one help clinicians and other healthcare professionals keep up to date on developments in this challenging field.