Meeting officially launches Sunday morning with Opening Ceremony, followed by Opening Plenary Session

In keeping with the Annual Meeting theme—Decoding Cancer Complexity | Integrating Science | Transforming Patient Outcomes—Sunday’s Opening Plenary Session will feature a diverse roster of speakers and presentations spanning the continuum of cancer research, from molecular discoveries to practice-changing clinical breakthroughs, said Program Committee Chair Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD, who will chair the session.

Marcia Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD
Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD

“The Opening Plenary encapsulates the overall concept of the meeting by showcasing several examples of how researchers are decoding the complexities of cancer, from premalignancy all the way to the population level,” Cruz-Correa said.

The Opening Plenary Session begins at 9:45 a.m. CT in Hall B-C at the convention center. In the first presentation, Michael R. Stratton, MBBS, PhD, FAACR, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom, will discuss innovative research into the pathogenesis of cancer susceptibility due to inherited DNA repair defects.

“We are beginning to open windows into the earliest stages of cancer development and the changes that occur at the DNA level that increase a person’s risk for developing cancer,” Cruz-Correa said. “Starting at that very cellular level, we can then begin to explore and understand how a normal cell transforms and evolves into a malignant cell.”

Franziska Michor, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will discuss that transformation and review quantitative approaches that are contributing to a better understanding of tumor evolution. Moving beyond the cellular level to the microenvironment, Jason M. Crawford, PhD, of Yale University, will follow with a review of research examining changes in the gut microbiome that may play a role in colorectal cancer initiation.

Progressing to the macroenvironment, Marcia Haigis, PhD, Harvard Medical School, will discuss the role of metabolites and diet in anti-tumor immunity, and Nickolas Papadopoulos, PhD, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, will discuss recent advances and challenges in early detection and cancer diagnosis.

Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR
Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR

In a special presentation to conclude the session, Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will discuss the future of cancer research and the key questions to be addressed as researchers continue to decode the complexities of cancer.

“Despite all of the progress we have made and continue to make, perhaps the biggest problem that we face is drug resistance,” Sawyers said. “The solution to resistance has shifted—the problem has reshaped itself as we’re seeing new forms of resistance. I am optimistic, though, that mechanism-based science, done properly, will lead to solutions to this and other problems, and we will continue to improve outcomes for our patients.”

Immediately preceding the Opening Plenary Session, the Annual Meeting’s Opening Ceremony will get the day off to a rousing start, as the New Orleans community welcomes AACR to the “Big Easy” with a live performance by the Preservation Hall All-Stars Jazz Band. The Opening Ceremony also will feature remarks from AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), and from U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD.

The Opening Ceremony will include a special 115th Anniversary video celebrating the progress of the AACR; presentation of the inaugural AACR James S. Ewing-Thelma B. Dunn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pathology in Cancer Research; presentation of the inaugural Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers 2022 Meritorious Awards; presentation of the inaugural AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research award; and other important recognitions and awards.

The Opening Ceremony will take place from 7:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. CDT in Hall B-C of the convention center.