With 45 investigators from 11 departments across the University of Rochester, the Wilmot’s solid-tumor research team is diverse, deep and energized.
They recognize that collaboration is critical. The physicians on the team see what patients need, and bring a sense of urgency to the laboratory. The scientists, steeped in the complexity of cancer, ground physicians with the realities of biology and genomics. Together they’re forming coalitions, defining new initiatives and understanding each other in new ways.
The goal is to locate common threads relevant to many cancers, and to reach across the aisle to apply specific knowledge from one area to another. Currently, our primary focus is on genitourinary cancers (prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular, for example), gastrointestinal cancers (pancreas, liver, colon, esophageal), breast cancer and brain cancer.
Wilmot’s emphasis and investment in collaborative projects is paying off. For example, individual prostate cancer investigators have come together to share data and strategically plan for better, faster ways to reach their goals. They’re also reaching out to others with complementary expertise – for instance, working with geriatric oncologists to investigate the link between anti-androgen therapy and muscle loss in older men. Researchers on the GI team are making similar, strategic moves to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer.
Other partnerships involve pathologists and surgeons, who explore how to analyze specific tumor features and gene expression patterns to arrive at the most personal, accurate diagnosis and prognosis possible for every patient. Biomedical engineers, optics and imaging experts are developing new ways to track cancer metastasis and to see how patients respond to treatment.
Big problems require big teams—and we’re sparking many new connections to improve precision medicine care.