An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
By Caroline C. Richard Clark | April 25, 2012

City of Hope Leading Edge LecturesI invited James Ford, M.D., from Stanford University School of Medicine, to present a Leading-Edge Lecture (LEL) for two main reasons:  First, Dr. Ford's research fits with my career interests and the work performed at our institution comprising translational and clinical research; second, we both share an interest in the potential use of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) as therapy.

Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase was identified nearly 50 years ago, but it didn't reach real fame until 2005 when two groups showed that its inhibition selectively killed BRCA-deficient cells. This was the discovery that illustrated its potential use for the treatment of BRCA-associated breast cancer.

On March 8, upon his arriving at City of Hope, Dr. Ford and I got coffee and spent a short time conversing in the Japanese garden before starting a busy day that included several meetings with faculty members working on DNA repair, breast cancer or both. During lunch with some of the students, one of my favorite conversations was regarding the importance of pursuing our personal research interests despite a slow job market. Then, show time arrived.

Dr. Ford's seminar, titled "Targeting DNA Repair for the Treatment of Cancer," attracted many students, faculty and clinicians (including clinicians who attended a cancer risk assessment training course). The data he presented included:

  • The in vitro sensitization and potential mechanism of a PARPi in combination with cisplatin or gemcitabine in basal-like triple-negative breast cancer • A mechanism of PARPi resistance (unpublished)
  • A correlation of PARPi sensitivity in colorectal cancer cell lines with the biallelic mutation status of a DNA repair gene (unpublished)
  • Sensitization of BRCA1-mutated and basal-like breast cancer with an underlying base excision repair defect to the oxidative stress induced by the drug elesclomol
This exciting day ended at Cafe Massilia with some fine French food in a relaxing ambiance.

After this experience, I look forward to hearing more seminars about PARP inhibitors, a very thrilling and promising field of study. This also has piqued my interest in identifying new therapeutic targets and biomarkers (preclinical or clinical).

Dr. Ford said he “thoroughly enjoyed [his] visit and meeting with so many interesting students and faculty.”

Thank you to all of my colleagues for your help and being part of my LEL experience . Voila!