Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Top US Researchers Organize Historic American/Israeli Cancer Conference


The University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer at Johns Hopkins University and the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey announce the inaugural Joint American-Israeli Conference on Cancer, March 16 to 18, at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem. This landmark conference is intended to foster enduring collaboration between physicians and scientists in the two countries, and also to help Israel during a time of need, given the ongoing tensions in the Middle East.

“Part of our own personal impetus is, we feel that over the past few years that Israel, which is pound-for-pound a relative research powerhouse, has been shortchanged by the lack of convention visitors,” said Joseph D. Rosenblatt, associate director of clinical and translational research, chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at UM/Sylvester, and professor of medicine at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. “So the conference is interested in fostering ties and recognizing the contributions that Israelis make to the international cancer effort and creating real opportunities for the development of new therapeutic, prognostic and diagnostic approaches, based on interactions between scientists in this country and in Israel.”

The first-ever JAICC conference will host more than 50 experts from more than a dozen institutions in the U.S. and Israel, including Avram Hershko, M.D., Ph.D., of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. Dr. Hershko was one of three researchers honored with the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, along with Aaron Ciechanover, M.D., D.Sc., also at Technion, and Irwin A. Rose, Ph.D., of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

“One of the reasons we invited Dr. Hershko as a keynote speaker was because we thought that what he’d done was of Nobel-laureate importance,” said Rosenblatt. “We were vindicated in our choice when, one day after we invited him, he actually won the Nobel Prize.”

Along with Dr. Rosenblatt, the key organizers are Hyam I. Levitsky, M.D., from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and Robert Korngold, Ph.D., from the Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.

This inaugural JAICC will also feature a mini-symposium on environmental carcinogenesis sponsored by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute. Seed funding for the conference came from the Norman and Irma Braman Family Foundation, along with the Israel Cancer Association in the U.S. and Israel. “The Israelis have made significant contributions and this interchange will probably create new and productive collaborations that will benefit us all,” said Rosenblatt. “Especially our patients.”

The conference will include discussions on many current topics in medical news, including cancer genetics, cell signaling at the DNA/RNA level, using the immune system to fight cancer, targeted therapies with fewer side effects, attacking tumor blood supplies and the use of stem cells. There are special sessions dedicated to breast cancer, hematologic malignancies like leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and environmental causes of cancer.

Dr. Rosenblatt was recognized with the seventh annual Emanuel G. Rosenblatt Award for Scientific Achievement from the Israel Cancer Association, USA, for his efforts organizing this conference. (Dr. Rosenblatt is not related to the late Emanuel Rosenblatt.) “We believe he’s taking a strong leadership role in working to support cancer research in Israel,” said Ronni Epstein, executive director of the Israel Cancer Association, USA. “We realized the significance of the joint American Israeli conference and we knew we had to support it. We support cancer research in Israel and we can’t think of anything more important than this, which will bring over the top scientists in America to collaborate with those in Israel.” And many UM faculty members trained and practiced medicine in Israel.

“There’s an ancient Talmudic saying, ‘The air of the land of Israel makes you smarter,’” said Rosenblatt. “Whether that is really the case the Israelis have made significant contributions and this interchange will probably create new and productive collaborations that will benefit us all, especially our patients.”

For more information about the conference, contact Kathy Salce at (305) 243-1046.

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