Two more experts join TBBCF’s scientific advisory board
By Melissa Johnson
The Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation has added two members to its scientific advisory board (SAB), the group that awards TBBCF research grants funded by every dollar donated to the foundation.
Current SAB members include a former Pfizer president and former senior vice president, both of research and development; two NYU Medical Center professors; and the president and chief scientific officer of Immunome, a biotech company. TBBCF has awarded 55 grants totaling $5.5 million to breast cancer researchers since 2006.
Joining them are Vali A. Papadimitrakopoulou, MD, MBA, vice president of clinical development at Pfizer, based in New York City; and Carl Uli Bialucha, PhD, senior vice president of research at Xilio Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology research company in Waltham, Massachusetts.
SAB Chair Nick Saccomano, PhD, introduced Papadimitrakopoulou to TBBCF. She wanted to join the group because of its “focus on science and translational research to enhance our therapeutic targeting of breast cancer,” she said. “I chose the field of cancer medicine because of the challenge and the real need for improved outcomes and real-time application of the latest scientific developments.”
Over the next decade, she hopes to see “personalized treatment plans for each individual’s breast cancer and more cures not only for early stage but also advanced cancers,” she said.
Papadimitrakopoulou takes a holistic approach to cancer treatment. Yes, the medicine is key, but it’s crucial to remember the person being treated and those who love them.
She explains, “After 20-plus years in practice as an oncologist, it was increasingly clear to me that despite all therapeutic advances and tools that modern oncology offers, there is an inescapable reality that one of the most important contributions for physicians is to help patients and family members stand up and face the disease and their transformed lives as they navigate through their cancer journey.”
Meanwhile, Bialucha learned about TBBCF through Dr. Walter Goldschmidts while conducting postdoctoral research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where they both worked. He was awarded a grant from TBBCF in 2009, bringing him full circle now that he’s one of the experts who will help select upcoming fellows.
He anticipates “advances in combining multiple mechanisms of action for a holistic approach to cancer therapy including but not limited to cancer vaccines, immunotherapy, radiation/radioligands and targeted therapy. This, together with an improved understanding of predictive biomarkers that enable patients and their physicians to choose the therapies most likely to benefit them, will advance the field in my view.”
While Bialucha acknowledges profound advances in the last decade that have led to new treatments for cancer patients, such as immunotherapy, antibody drug conjugates, and targeted therapy, “there is a very significant unmet medical need remaining that needs to be addressed,” he said. “My hope is that advances across the board allow us to better understand how to fully leverage the immune system to drive durable responses in patients who do not respond to first-generation immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy—and to do so in a manner that is tolerable with an acceptable toxicity profile.”
For his part, Saccomano said, “The scope and sophistication of medical oncology and cancer therapeutic research continues to evolve at a remarkable pace. The addition of Dr. Papadimitrakopoulou’s medical oncology expertise and Dr. Bialucha’s deep understanding of molecular therapeutics to the breadth of knowledge already brought by Drs Logan, Garabedian, Morin and LaMattina will guarantee expert review of a growing number of outstanding proposals.”
Every day, TBBCF moves closer to finding a cure for breast cancer, and these experts are integral to that goal.
To learn more about the SAB, visit tbbcf.org/leadership.