By Peter P. Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO
Chair, Breakthrough Co-Host Committee
Breakthrough: A Global Summit for Oncology Innovators will be the place to fast-forward and glimpse the near horizon of technology breakthroughs happening in biotechnology, which we deal with every day now, but also in digital health, biomedical engineering, and artificial intelligence. What are the things that are coming down the pipeline and will transform how we treat patients with cancer, how we educate our members, and how we conduct research?
One of the things we at ASCO asked was, does the world need another cancer meeting when there are already so many? And the answer was yes, because this one is innovative and different. We didn’t want a traditional meeting filled with presentations and abstracts of research done in the last 6 months. We wanted something that was more engaging and exciting, that really looks forward at where we are going in the field of oncology. Where is it trending?
We’ll be considering not only the trends in oncology, but trends happening in other fields that may not have hit oncology yet but are leaning toward us. For example, artificial intelligence, where I see most of the work that has been accomplished successfully so far has been in some form of image recognition. One of our Breakthrough sessions will look at artificial intelligence and how that could transform pathology diagnosis, image diagnosis, and radiation therapy planning.
Along with oncology professionals, we want to engage companies and researchers outside of oncology—for example, people involved in industrial products, product design, and development. We would like them to come, explain what they’re doing, and get input from oncologists about our unmet needs that technology may be able to solve. We’re looking beyond medical science into biomedical engineering and computational medicine, for example—areas that you don’t usually find represented at a typical medical meeting.
For me, the question is, how do you go from discovery to innovation? The distinction I make is that discovery is when you’re looking for something new and even though you don’t quite know what you’re going to do with it, it’s exciting and you want to see where it takes you—we do a pretty good job with that. Innovating is taking that new idea and achieving a breakthrough to a better solution to the most challenging problems facing patients and physicians in oncology. That’s what we’re trying to accelerate. And that’s what we’re trying to do with Breakthrough, by bringing people from different fields together to understand what they’re doing, learn what someone else is doing, and then spark an innovative idea between the two that will move the field faster.
At a traditional medical meeting, you hear a presentation about a study and come away with a couple of new facts that you can run back to your clinic and immediately change how you manage your day and treat your patients. Breakthrough is about ideas. Some of these ideas will be controversial. Some of them will be really startling. We’re bringing visionary, transformative ideas and leaders together to spark the imagination. When you come away from Breakthrough, you’ll have a different way of thinking than you had before. As you begin to see these transformative breakthroughs come to fruition, you’ll really understand what was behind them.
Submit your abstract today. The abstract submission deadline is June 18, 2019.
Dr. Yu is senior vice president and physician in chief at Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute. He is chair of the Breakthrough Co-Host Committee and a past president of ASCO. Follow him on Twitter @YupOnc.