Inaugural Princess Margaret Personalized Cancer Medicine Conference a Hit among Participants
April 23, 2014

On February 10th and 11th 2014, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre hosted its inaugural conference “Beyond the Genetic Prescription Pad: Personalizing Cancer Medicine in 2014” at Hyatt Regency Hotel Toronto. As the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Canada and one of the world’s top five, the Princess Margaret strives to exemplify and share the best thinking on the cutting edge topic of personalized medicine, and to constantly meet the needs of our professional community. 
This two-day scientific forum and continuing education event was designed to facilitate discussion and debate among those tackling the challenges of personalized medicine, in order to promote knowledge exchange, innovation, and collaborations, ultimately moving the promise of personalized medicine closer to the patient. With six international keynote speakers and 26 national faculty, four highly focused sessions, and lively debates and receptions, the sold-out event attracted over 200 participants ranging from clinical oncologists and scientists to allied health professionals, nurses, students and trainees.
Conference Highlights
The Conference comprised over 30 presentations, which explored themes of omics-based cancer medicine, lessons learned in breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, technological advances for precision medicine, and the development of new immunotherapies.
The opening keynote “Cancer Genomics to Guide Therapy” by Dr. Elaine R. Mardis provided a glimpse into the future of personalized medicine. As Director of Technology Development for the Genome Institute (Washington University), she established an integrated sequencing platform that enabled customized treatment protocols for patients with unresponsive cancers. These proof-of-principle case studies illustrated the great potential that exists for personalized cancer therapies. Carl June, Professor of Immunology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine (University of Pennsylvania) delivered the closing keynote “CAR T cells Travel to the Clinic: Lessons and Expectations”, exciting the audience to envision how to incorporate new immune therapies.
Among the participants’ favorite moments was a rousing debate - “Will Precision Medicine Double the Overall Cancer Cure in 10 Years?” Malcolm Moore, Head of Medical Oncology and Ben Neel, Director of Cancer Research represented the House for the motion; arguing against them were representatives of two generations of medical oncologists: Ian Tannock and Monika Krzyzanowska. Their spirited, humorous yet collegial discussion exemplified the importance of embracing the complexity of cancer and driving through that with new knowledge.

Looking Forward
From their evaluation responses, participants gave the Conference highly positive feedback and are excited to come back next year. We were particularly glad to hear from many of them how the program had inspired thoughts on what they can do differently or should continue in their practice.  
The Princess Margaret looks forward to its next personalized cancer conference on February 2nd-3rd 2015 and we hope to see you there!
Pamela Catton
Chair, Organizing Committee
*Check out the Conference's website for more photos and videos from this year's event:
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