2019 ITOG Annual Meeting: One of the very best
Saturday, October 19, 2019
The 12th Annual Meeting of the International Thyroid Oncology Group was held in early May in New York City, New York, and was co-hosted by Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).
The Program Committee was comprised of several ITOG members, including Dr. Eric Sherman, Dr. Yariv Houvras, Dr. Alan Ho, Dr. Michael Tuttle, and Dr. David Pfister. This scientific meeting drew upon experts in cancer research from around the world to share inspiring research progress and to collaborate with colleagues. ITOG members presented their data on active clinical trials and basic science research while finalizing details for upcoming ITOG-sponsored clinical trials. Invited faculty provided their insights and research findings to prompt discussion of future directions for thyroid cancer research.
This year, meeting presentations were divided into six sessions covering topics in thyroid cancer research and treatment, ranging from “Immunotherapy” to “Anaplastic Cancer” to “Cancer Registries.” A new format this year involved the creation of task forces, each of which helped to select presenters and to moderate discussions following each session. The format also allowed for extra time, enabling participants to discuss presentations within each section. This extra time was intended to improve networking and collaboration. At the start of each day there was one Keynote speech, each setting the tone for the remainder of the
sessions. Dr. Jedd Wolchok gave an informative presentation on “Immune Checkpoint Blockade Combinations and Mechanisms” and Dr. James Fagin presented his findings on “Functional Genomic and Novel Therapeutic Vulnerabilities of Advanced Thyroid Cancer.” Both talks were informative and inspiring.
This meeting also featured the first “Sunday Morning Fun Run” in Central Park, guided by running enthusiast, Dr. Yariv Houvras. Some attendees thought that the run started too early for a Sunday morning, though the exercise was generally well received. Many appreciated the effort to provide a healthy, bonding experience for attendees.
The annual closing dinner on Saturday evening included a history of MSKCC, presented by Dr. Thomas Fahey. Dwight Vicks, ITOG co-founder and treasurer, then welcomed Donna LeBeau and Kimberly Caplea of the REACT (Research Education Action Cancer Thyroid) Foundation in recognition of the ITOG and REACT merger this past year. REACT is dedicated to creating awareness for thyroid cancer and raising funds to support research for new treatment options. Donna’s daughter and Kimberly’s sister, Michelle LeBeau, founded this public charity in 2011 after battling medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) for two years. ITOG and REACT recently joined forces to specifically focus on finding treatments for MTC. In Donna’s words, “ITOG is the preeminent organization that brings together leaders in the field to develop better treatments for all types of thyroid cancer, including MTC.” ITOG is most grateful to Donna and Kimberly for choosing ITOG to carry on Michelle’s legacy.
The dinner also included poignant remarks from Rosie Sherman, the daughter of former ITOG Chair Dr. Steven Sherman, who shared her very personal experience with thyroid cancer. Her speech was thought levity. Her thyroid cancer journey inspired her and her friends to collect funds, which she presented in support of ITOG’s mission. This generous donation is greatly appreciated by all ITOG members. These women filled the evening with inspiration and gave meaning to our meeting and our mission at the ITOG.
The Annual Meeting offers an opportunity for ITOG members to get to know each other and to share cutting-edge science, facilitating opportunities for innovation and discovery with colleagues. It is a time to reflect, to be inspired, and to forge novel collaborations across disciplines and even countries. Overall, attendees found the meeting to be a joyful, memorable, and educational experience. We look forward to our 14th Annual Meeting, which will be hosted by Dr. Sophie Leboulleux and her team in Paris, France at the Institut Gustave Roussy from May 13-15, 2020.