Dec. 11, 2023

Carl June inspires and cancer research shines at annual Winship Scientific Symposium

Nearly 200 people gathered on Wednesday, Dec. 6 for the Winship Scientific Symposium, an annual event that highlights innovation and promotes collaboration at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. With the theme "Winship Cancer Institute: Where Science Becomes Hope," the symposium included presentations and interactive sessions in Emory University's Health Sciences Research Building I and an evening poster reception in the lobby of the Health Sciences Research Building II.

It was a packed auditorium for the keynote talk by Carl June, MD, acclaimed cancer immunologist from the University of Pennsylvania. After an introduction from Winship researcher Chrystal Paulos, PhD –who trained as a postdoctoral fellow with June – he shared insights from his team’s foundational work in cancer immunology and their latest studies to refine CAR T-cell therapy for patients with cancer.

"It was an incredible honor for Winship to have Dr. June as our keynote speaker," said Winship Executive Director Suresh Ramalingam, MD. "From Dr. June’s inspiring keynote presentation to the Winship scientific advances on display to the broad engagement from our research community, this year’s symposium provided countless examples of how Winship is where science becomes hope."

Podium talks by members of Winship’s research programs were organized into four sessions: (1) Basic Science; (2) Translational Science; (3) Patient Experience and Clinical Care; and (4) Public Health, Survivorship and Community Outreach. Each session was followed by an interactive panel discussion with the presenters, who answered questions from the audience and reflected on how their work inspires hope. There was also a group discussion about artificial intelligence and a game show-style panel featuring the directors of several of Winship’s shared resources.

The symposium highlighted research achievement and advances from Winship trainees and lab members. Renee Read, PhD, Winship’s assistant director for basic research and shared resources, announced Ayana Ruffin, PhD, MS, and Yongdong Su, PhD, MS, as the inaugural recipients of Winship Postdoctoral Scholar Program awards, which recognize outstanding postdoctoral researchers who demonstrate mentorship and service qualities. Each recipient receives an engraved plaque, a $5,000 annual stipend and $2,000 for travel to support their career development.

The day concluded with a scientific poster session and reception featuring 56 posters from Winship labs, 10 of which were selected for prizes by a panel of judges. The winners of the poster competition are as follows:

  • "Patient-reported Financial Toxicity and Health-related Quality of Life among a Modern Population-based Cohort of Georgia Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer"
    Oyinda Adisa
    Data analyst, Winship Data and Technology Applications Shared Resource
  • "Expanding immunotherapy options in cholangiocarcinoma: Role of CD27 agonist in combination with PD-L1 and MEK inhibition on antitumor effect and CD8+ T cells"
    Francie Bennett
    General Surgery resident, postdoctoral fellow
    Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
  • "Making their own off switch: Fgl2 produced by antigen-specific CD8+ T cells tempers the CD8+ T-cell response via apoptosis of FcγRIIB+ CD8+ T cells"
    Kelsey Bennion
    PhD student, Cancer Biology Graduate Program
    Laney Graduate School, Emory University
  • "Decoding the Sex-Based Protective Barrier Against LKB1-Mutant Lung Adenocarcinoma in Females"
    Yijian Fan
    PhD student, Cancer Biology Graduate Program
    Laney Graduate School, Emory University
  • "Improving immunotherapies for pancreatic cancer using CD4+ T cells"
    Delaney Geitgey
    PhD student, Cancer Biology Graduate Program
    Laney Graduate School, Emory University
  • "MERTK inhibition selectively activates a DC T-cell axis to provide anti-leukemia immunity"
    Justus Huelse
    Postdoctoral fellow
    Emory University School of Medicine
    Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
  • "A 3D co-culture drug screening system for tackling the transformation of ductal carcinoma in situ to invasive ductal carcinoma"
    Qiao Jiao
    Master’s student, Cancer Biology Graduate Program
    Laney Graduate School, Emory University
  • "Chemical biology approaches to target the 'undruggable' SMAD4 protein"
    Pooja Kumari
    Postdoctoral fellow
    Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology
    Emory University School of Medicine
  • "Homing of intestinal NK and Th1 cells to the tumor site restrains melanoma bone growth in a gut microbiome dependent manner"
    Subhashis Pal
    Postdoctoral researcher
    Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipids
    Emory University School of Medicine
  • "The Cancer Glycocalyx and Integrin-Mediated Mechanotransduction"
    Maia Vierengel
    PhD student, Department of Chemistry
    Emory College of Arts and Sciences
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