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Virginia Tech Cancer Research Alliance 2023 Retreat

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May 24-25, 2023

Children's National Research and Innovation Campus
7144 13th Pl NW, Washington, D.C.


Aligning Researchers with Resources

The second annual Virginia Tech Cancer Research Alliance Retreat was held May 24 and 25 on the Children's National Research and Innovation Campus in Washington, D.C. Alliance members shared their research, forged new collaborations, and learned from speakers spanning veterinary and human oncology and biomedical cancer research.

Retreat Schedule

Wednesday, May 24
12 p.m.: Bus departs from Roanoke (lunch provided)
4:30 - 5 p.m.: Arrive in Washington, D.C., hotel check-in
5:30 p.m.: Opening Reception at JLABS
6:00 - 6:30 p.m.: Sally Allain, MBA, M.S., Head of JLABS @ Washington, D.C.
7:30 p.m.: Return to Hotel

Thursday, May 25
7 a.m.: Hotel departure and bus transportation to CNRIC Auditorium
7:15 - 7:45 a.m.: Coffee and Continental Breakfast
8:00 - 8:30 a.m.: Introductions  - Michael Friedlander, Ph.D., and Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D.
8:30 - 9:00 a.m.:  Carla Finkielstein, Ph.D.
9:00 - 9:30 a.m.: Catherine Bollard, M.D., MBBCH
9:30 - 10:00 a.m.: Eli Vlaisavljevich, Ph.D.
10:00 - 10:15 a.m.: Coffee Break; Poster Set-up
10:15 - 10:45 a.m.: Joanne Tuohy, DVM, Ph.D. 
10:45 - 11:15 a.m.: Liwu Li, Ph.D.
11:15 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: Lunch and Poster Presentations
1:00 - 1:30 p.m.: Kathleen Mulvaney, Ph.D.
1:30 - 2:00 p.m.: Eugene Hwang, M.D.
2:00 - 2:50 p.m.: Keynote: Jay A. Berzofsky, M.D., Ph.D.
2:50 - 3:00 p.m.: Closing Remarks
3:00 p.m.: Bus departs for Roanoke

Keynote Speaker


Jay A. Berzofsky, M.D., Ph.D.

Cancer Vaccine Studies from Bench to Bedside and Back to the Bench

Chief, Vaccine Branch
Senior Investigator
Head, Molecular Immunogenetics and Vaccine Research Section
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health

Dr. Berzofsky pioneered characterization of B- and T-cell epitopes and their modification to make epitope-enhanced vaccines, discovered the importance of T cell avidity in viral/tumor clearance, pioneered use of defined molecular adjuvants to alter quality of immune responses, advanced mucosal HIV vaccines, discovered NKT cell regulation of tumor immunity, and blocked negative regulation by TGF-beta, IL-13, and regulatory cells to enhance tumor immunity and vaccine efficacy. He translated these strategies to clinical trials in prostate cancer, melanoma, and HER2-positive cancers. As chief, he oversees the Vaccine Branch’s basic, translational, and clinical research in cancer and retroviral vaccines and immunotherapy.



Catherine Bollard, M.D., MBBCH

Cell Therapies for Pediatric Solid Tumors- Beyond Conventional CAR-T

Director, Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Children’s National Research Institute; Director, Program for Cell Enhancement and Technologies for Immunotherapy, Children's National Research Institute

Carla Finkielstein, Ph.D.

Circadian Control of Checkpoint Signaling and Tumor Growth

Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC; Co-director, Virginia Tech Cancer Research Alliance

Eugene Hwang, M.D.

How Can We Help Immunotherapy Beat Back Pediatric Brain Cancers? A Brief Review of Novel Challenges and Strategies

Associate Division Chief, Oncology;  Principal Investigator of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, Children's National Hospital

Liwu Li, Ph.D.

Reprogramming of Innate Immune Memory in the Treatment of Cancer

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science; Director, Program in Genetics, Biotechnology & Computational Biology, Virginia Tech

Kathleen Mulvaney, Ph.D.

PRMT5 Substrate Recruitment as a Therapeutic Target in CDKN2A/MTAP Null Cancer

Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Joanne Tuohy, DVM, Ph.D. 

Developing Histotripsy and H-FIRE for Osteosarcoma and Lung Cancers

Assistant Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and Animal Cancer Care and Research Center, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons (Small Animal)

Eli Vlaisavljevich, Ph.D.

Non-invasive Tumor Ablation Using Histotripsy: Basic Mechanisms, Clinical Translation, and Emerging Applications

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech