Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

U.S. and Israeli Cancer Researchers Collaborate at International Conference


Strengthening relationships, forging new ones, and exchanging information were the goals of the second Joint American Israeli Cancer Conference (JAICCC), attended by close to 400 renowned scientists, clinicians, researchers, and other health care professionals from the U.S., Israel, and Canada at the Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem last month. “This proved to be a great forum. We were able to expose young scientists in Israel to the distinguished investigators from the U.S. and facilitate a number of joint projects,” said conference co-director Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D., associate director of clinical and translational research and chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of medicine, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

Along with Rosenblatt, co-directors Robert Korngold, Ph.D., from The Cancer Center of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, and Hyam Levitsky, M.D., from The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, agreed that the three-day event fostered new collaborative efforts and personal connections for young researchers and scientists. “The conference was a good opportunity for 68 young scientists and junior faculty, from Israel and the United States, to present and discuss their research during the Gillis Memorial Poster session,” added Korngold.

“The conference was a success, and excellent feedback was received from the participants who expressed great satisfaction with the excellent lectures,” said Miri Ziv, director general, Israel Cancer Association, and member of the JAICC Scientific Organizing Committee. “We hope that future conferences will indeed achieve the objective of forging contacts and productive collaboration among basic researchers, team researchers and clinicians.”

A world-renowned expert on multiple myeloma, Kenneth Anderson, M.D., of Harvard Medical School, agreed. “The quality of science is unsurpassed in Israel,” he said after presenting “Multiple Myeloma: Changing Paradigms in Treatment” at the conference. “This offers us international collaboration and support. We all know how precious life is. This conference has given us the opportunity to use the power of science to improve the lives of our patients to give them the promise of life in the future.”

Fifty faculty from across the U.S. and Israel presented at the conference, including physicians and scientists from UM/Sylvester, Johns Hopkins, Hackensack, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, and elsewhere.

In Israel, researchers came from Hadassah Medical Center, the Hebrew University, and Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem; Tel Aviv University and Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv; the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva, the Technion Faculty of Medicine and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa; the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, and elsewhere.

When Haim Matzkin, M.D., stepped to the podium as a faculty presenter at last month’s Second Joint American-Israeli Conference on Cancer, he did so as the chief of urology at the Tel Aviv Medical Center and as a past fellow at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

Matzkin was one of many presenters with relationships in both Israel and the U.S. who attended the conference, which was intended to foster collaboration among some of the world’s top oncologists.

Dr. Matzkin was mentored by Mark Soloway, M.D., chair of the department of Urology and co-leader of the Prostate, Bladder, and Kidney Cancers site disease group at UM/Sylvester. Soloway also presented at and was able to re-connect with Matzkin and three other former UM fellows who now work in Israel.

“Although Israel is a small country, it is a beehive of intellectual activity,” said Rosenblatt, “Fantastic advancements have been made in cancer research here, and we all had a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other,” he said.

After judging the Gillis Memorial Poster Competition at the conference, Robert Levy, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UM/Sylvester, spoke at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel on preventing rejection of hematopoietic stem cells at the invitation of Yara Reisner, Ph.D. Levy had met Reisner years ago, but the two became reacquainted at the JAICC last year.

A former professor at the Miller School of Medicine and now a professor at Haddasah University Hospital, Charles Sprung, M.D., invited Alan Livingstone, M.D. chairman of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, to speak on esophageal cancer surgery at Haddasah.

A highlight of the three-day conference was the keynote address at the Eldor/Matzner Memorial Dinner by Nobel laureate Andrew V. Schally, Ph.D., M.D. h.a. at the King David Hotel Garden. Schally, who recently joined the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine after relocating from New Orleans, presented “New Approaches to Therapy of Various Tumors Based on Peptide Analogs.” His work on the role of peptides in endocrinology earned him a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1977. Dr. Schally’s insights have led to major advances in the treatment of breast, prostate and other cancers. “I realized that the analogs could be extremely powerful and effective in the treatment of some cancers, and it would be remiss not to investigate these alternatives for patients,” he said.

Funding for the conference came from the Norman and Irma Braman Family Foundation, along with the Israel Cancer Association in both the U.S. and Israel, and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute. A third JAICC conference is being planned for June 2008, in Israel. “This conference is the epitome of why it is important to blend a mixture of cultures….to bring scientists and clinicians together…to invite the young and the old,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research. “Major cancer advancements can come about here.”

E-mail a Friend