When NBCC set a deadline for ending breast cancer, we knew a key to reaching that goal would be gaining a better understanding of metastasis, and learning how to prevent the process from taking women’s lives. This weekend we are taking an unprecedented step to reach that goal by bringing together scientists from different fields with passionate, knowledgeable advocates, to challenge each other to look at the issue broadly and in new ways, and to seek attainable solutions. We are bringing together investigators who are currently looking at the biology of breast cancer metastasis – the genetics, the cellular mechanisms, and the role of the immune system – with others who have created mathematical models of metastasis, or have been applying evolutionary theory to cancer progression, or are problem solvers from other fields, such as a former DARPA project manager and physicist.
This will not be a typical scientific meeting. There will be no formal presentations. The 31 scientists and advocates will divide into groups to first diverge, and explore all of the different ways to view breast cancer metastasis and prevention. Then we will converge, as a large group, to determine the most viable approaches for moving forward, and develop recommendations for next steps. We will work together to see how different perspectives can intersect and complement each other, and ultimately, lead us to an understanding of how to prevent breast cancer metastasis from taking women’s lives. We are not interested in incremental change. We want to see leaps and bounds. We believe this requires a broad, systemic look at the problem, and bold new ideas.
Science writers will document the work of the summit and produce a report on the recommendations. After the summit, NBCC will determine how best to further the recommendations in 2012 and beyond. Stay tuned.