Transforming Cancer Treatment with Precision Medicine

For May 22, 2019    

Hi WN@TL Fans,

In August 2009 I phoned home from Washington DC to talk with my Dad in Dixon, IL.  His voice sounded like he had a frog in his throat, but when I asked him about it, he said he couldn’t clear his throat.  He was heading to the doc in the next few days to see what was up.

Well, it was a growth in his throat.  It was likely nothing, probably benign.

But then the biopsy came back unfavorable—it was cancer of the throat, or more accurately, cancer of the neck.  And it likely could be treated with surgery and chemo.

But then the results of the surgery were unfavorable.  The surgeon could cut out some but not all of the tumor. And it grew back. So it was time to add in chemo.

But then the results of the first round of chemo were unfavorable. There were two possible types of cancer cells this could be;  one was susceptible to the remaining type of chemo, and the other wasn’t. There was no way to know just by looking at the cells in the microscope.  Dad would get the second drug, and we all would wait & see what would happen.

The results of the second round of chemo were unfavorable.  My Dad died in March 2010 of what was not a frog in his throat.

Now a decade later, with a decade of more-insightful DNA analysis of tumor cells, people with cancer & their docs & oncs have more options for identifying cells and speeding the search for surgery and for chemotherapies and radiation therapies that might better knock down or knock out the specific line or lines of cells in a person’s tumor.

This week (May 22) Mark Burkard of the School of Medicine & Public Health and the Carbone Cancer Center will be here to talk about his research in oncology and his work in caring for people with cancer.  Here’s how Prof Burkard describes his talk, entitled “Transforming Cancer Treatment with Precision Medicine.”

Tonight we’ll explore the Wisconsin Precision Medicine Molecular Tumor Board and its work to implement the “Wisconsin Idea” by making precision cancer care available to cancer patients state-wide.  This collaborative effort provides a free service to patients and oncologists to allow them to access experts in precision medicine and share data at no cost to physicians and patients.  Moreover, this is linked to a program of clinical trials to provide access to the latest medicines on two tiers—commonly needed medicines are made accessible at multiple sites in the state, and rarely needed medicines are made available at one site.

About the Speaker:

Mark Burkard is a physician-scientist who practices medical oncology with a clinical focus on breast cancer, and laboratory work focused on drug sensitivity and cancer genomics. With his colleague, Dr. Deming, he has led the Wisconsin Precision Medicine Molecular tumor board since 2015. They have provided advice on precision medicine treatment to physicians across the state on over 1500 patients with incurable cancer.


Coming up May 29:

Next week (May 29) we have the special treat to welcome Matthew McCarty, Assistant Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of British Columbia. His research explores the practice of ancient religion in the context of Roman colonial power, from child sacrifice in Roman Africa (the subject of his forthcoming book) to the worship of the Persian god Mithras.

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Thanks again!

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension


UW-Madison:  5.8 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university.