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Hokies for Good: Conquering Cancer through Research Collaboration

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Category: research Video duration: Hokies for Good: Conquering Cancer through Research Collaboration

Join us as we explore the groundbreaking partnership between the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and Children's National Hospital in Washington D.C.

Deemed a one-of-a-kind endeavor to transform pediatric research and health care, the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus in Washington, D.C., has been years in the making and Virginia Tech's unprecedented partnership has been key to bringing this unified vision to reality.

Our panel discussion with university and hospital leaders and researchers will highlight the innovative ecosystem where best-in-class research partners are advancing, discovering, and developing breakthroughs into new treatments and technologies to benefit children everywhere.

My mask this evening. Joining you from my home in Blacksburg as we are in this virtual event. I'm Jenny written, our Director of Alumni Chapter programs at Virginia Tech, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to our spring 2021 Hokie, for good event conquering cancer through collaboration. We're excited to introduce this program as our second event under the Hokie for good theme. For many Okies, prism is more than a mindset. It's a lifelong Collie. You'll find these experts and advocates tackling some of our world's greatest challenges with passion and perseverance. There are positive force for change, and that's why we're celebrating them. Focus for good is a series of conversations and events with those who have dedicated their careers to humanity is most pressing issues. Tonight's program is no exception and the perfect fit for our theme, we jumped at this opportunity to get a front row seat to learn more about the partnership between Virginia texts braille in Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Aurelian Children's National Hospital and the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. I'd like to introduce my Ray Lander, Executive Director of the Franklin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and Virginia Tech's Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology. Dr. Friedlander is also the Senior Dean for Research and a professor at the 3D tech really in School of Medicine. Among his honors and recognitions, Dr. Friedlander is an elected fellow of the world's largest scientific Society, the American Association for the advancement of science, a recipient of the William many are Award for distinguished contributions to mental health research and a distinguished scientist and the society for experimental biology and medicine. Doctor free lander is recruited some of the world's most creative biomedical scientists to Ronak, leading the city's storied transformation from train town, the brain town. He's also help lead the efforts to develop the university's COVID-19 testing capabilities. With that, I will turn things over to you, Dr. Friedlander, to get the conversation started. Great. Thank you very much, Jenny, I'm in my office alone, so I'll take my mask off and it'll easier to hear me. I hope it's a great pleasure to welcome everybody here this evening. It's always a matter of pride and excitement to be able to talk about Huggies doing good. There are lots of them doing a lot of good. Tonight's program will center on advances in cancer research and particularly related to collaborative efforts. I think as everybody probably knows, cancer isn't being one of the leading causes of disease and mortality in the United States in the world and numbers are increasing in many cases. There's a pressing need for new diagnostics, therapeutics to pre-cancer and in children and adults throughout the lifespan. We're extremely fortunate here at Virginia Tech and that we have a number of really outstanding cancer researchers from across the universe. And you not only here on the Health Sciences Campus and row note that of course on the main campus in Blacksburg. And we're also extremely fortunate that we have this wonderful new partnership with our colleagues at the Children's National Hospital in Washington DC, many of whom are involved indeed with cancer research in many cases focusing on pediatric cancer. So to really highlight the kind of collaborations that are going on between the different groups. Tonight, we've asked three people to join us and talk about their work. The first is Dr. Bullard from Children's National Hospital. But I'll introduce in a moment. And path is has an MD, a medical degree. The next is Dr. John Ross Maisel from the Blacksburg campus to Virginia Tech. And Dr. Ross mice, Elisabetta Marion has a BBM degree. And then the third is Dr. Jing Shang from here on Health Sciences Campus in Roanoke. And Dr. Shuang has a PhD degree. So as I've emphasized, we have people that come from different aspects of training. And one of the things we want to emphasize tonight is how, how this all comes together. To position us at Virginia Tech with the College of Veterinary Medicine, with the frame and Biomedical Research Institute and with our wonderful partners up at the Children's National Hospital to converge on some things. Bring to bear leg leading technologies and expertise across the spectrum in a way that really differentiates us from many other academic health centers. So the three speakers tonight, as I said, will be started by Dr. Taft baller. Dr. Bala got her medical degree at the University of Chicago and New Zealand. She also has studied immunology. She has gone on to have a number of positions are currently she is the Director of the Center for Cancer and immunology research, The Children's National Research Institute. And she directs their program for cell enhancement and technologies for immunotherapy. She also serves as a member of the Division of the blood marrow transplantation transplantation unit. And she's a professor of pediatrics and microbiology, immunology, and Tropical Medicine at the George Washington University, where she also serves as director for their Translational Research and Innovation Within the GW Cancer Center. Before coming to children's actual Dr. Bullard was at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. A place I know very well. The next speaker will be Dr. John Ross Maisel, a veterinarian from Virginia Tech's College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Ross Maisel is professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He also serves as the Associate Head of the Department of small animal clinical sciences in the vet school. And he is the doctor, Mrs. Dorothy tailor-made, and Professor Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Dr. Ross, myself, prior to this, was Associate Professor in the Department. He did his residency there, the veterinary school at Virginia Tech. And then prior to that, he was a research fellow at Auburn University in Tibet, spoke. In addition to that, we have Dr. Zhi Shang. Dr. Shane is here. The frame and Biomedical Research Institute where I'm located in Roanoke. Dr. Shuang as an assistant professor here and one over a very active cancer researchers. He did his post-doctoral training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and molecular cancer biology. And prior to that, he did his PhD in molecular and cell biology at State University of New York, downstate medical center. And prior to that, he did his undergraduate work. Master's degree in Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University. And Dr. Chang is also an entrepreneur whose spun off a company in cancer research as well. So each of these three individuals is really renown in their own respect for their cancer research. As I said, they all come at this a little bit differently, but I think you'll be able to see where some of these convergence point points happen and why this is such an exciting time for these collaborations. So we're going to have each speaker tell you a little bit about their work and then we're going to have time for a panel discussion and questions. If you have questions you'd like to have answered, please enter them in the Q&A or the chat. So without any more ado, Dr. Bullard, I will turn it over to you to give us the first presentation. Thinking Tree, match my cage and yea, you stole my dad. Again, I'm just going to use the language piece of Shanghai, China. Make the case. Where the accent is from. So, but I will put you out of your misery right at the start. So you're not guessing the entire talk. So Mike, who I've known as he said since my Baylor days, asked me to talk a bit about our center. And then especially the work we're doing in as cell therapy, which is, was considered breakthrough of the year in Science a few years ago and has really been on a wheel up upward trajectory for cancer treatment. I do have some disclosures. I have setup to companies in the cell therapy space and I will be talking about two of those products today. This is our structure, children's national and the research arm. And so as you can see, we are broken down into five different research centers, but all cancer research falls. And my package, which as you heard, is the center center for cancer immunology research. And I report up to Dr. bet sure. Who's the director of CNRI, who reports directly to our SEA and SEO. Currently Children's National is top six on US News and World Report for pediatric cancer. We currently have 50 faculty center with about half, just under half being a lab or research focus, with the rest being a clinician. Researchers of those who funded 74 percent have federal funding. And currently we bring in just under 9 million a year in funds, most of which are federal funding for the Cancer Center. It's very active, fair could be with a lot of publications, especially over the last three years. We also have a robust intellectual property profile. Second only to our shake SIADH Institute, which is very diverse driven. In oncology. We have three main areas, leukemia, lymphomas, solid tumors, and neuropsychology. And it is this neuro Oncology Group where we have Sarah, very strong collaborations between Virginia Tech and Children's National. We have on the clinical research side, a lot of research consortium studies as well as multi-site non consortium studies. And the so-called jewel in the crown investigator initiated studies, which is where these are studies that have come directly out of researchers at Children's National and a translated to the clinic currently have more than a 100 clinical trials open. As you can see here, in the last three years, we have been very robust activity in our clinical trial enrollment. And we're in that top 98th percentile, percentile for the Children's Oncology Group. And nationwide, only four centers and they're all much bigger centers have more enrollments than us. We also very active in education and training and have to NIH training grants, these so-called T3 to grants. We also have very robust mentorship committees, grant writer and editor support. And we provide a pilot funding for our junior and senior faculty to foster collaborations. And one of the highlights I want to show you of the pilot funding program is the one between children's national and Virginia Tech. This was a collaborative research initiative that began through an agreement through the frail and Biomedical Research Institute and children's nationals Office of Academic Affairs and research. My can I co-hosted a retreat last year to kick-start this collaboration between the researchers at both institutions. We then subsequently put an out, an RFA for two pilot awards. And as you can see here, to pilot awards went to investigators where one PI was from Virginia Tech and one PI was from Children's National. So in this case, Dr. Lee and Dr. Campbell were from Virginia Tech and Dr. pay and you were from Children's National. So then moving to our cell therapy program, which we've called City, which is not, if you Google city, you might find that it's for extra terrestrials, but it isn't. It's called cell enhancement and technologies for immunotherapy. I was recruited from Baylor and 2013 to build a cell therapy program. And by effectively when I came there really was nothing there. And by the beginning of 2014, we had recruited a critical mass of faculty and staff. But it's important to know there really was nothing when I arrived. And by, by May 2014, we did have seven faculty. We did have what we call a GMP facility, which is where we manufacture these cells to give to the patients. And we had initiated some clinical trials. Now we are very active. We not only have a cell therapy program at Children's National, but also at GW. We now have 20 faculty with over 70 faculty and staff bringing and over 6 million a year in NIH funding. We now have gone from 0 manufacturing suites to four. And we're working on extending that further. We have 16 active clinical trials where we have developed novel cell therapies for n and our program to treat patients with cancer and devastating viral infections. And with that, we've traded over a 170 patients since we started the program. This is our new GMP facility where you can see very clean facilities for manufacturing these cell therapies. So overall, as I said, we've treated over 170 patients with sexting protocols. So I just wanted to give you some highlights about watch as the power of cell therapies. And I first want to start about what we call NK cell therapies or natural killer cells and T cells. So T cells and NK cells are your immune cells that are in your peripheral blood and in your lymph nodes. And they are the cells that will protect you from getting cancer and protects you from viral infection. And what happens is as soon as a T cell has been trained and ready to kill a cancer cell or a virus infected cell. It will live life for long. So this is a video, hopefully it works. So here you have a big brain tumor cell. These are all the little T cells, as you can see that recognizing the brain tumor cell, they are puncturing holes and releasing chemicals that are killing the brain tumor cell. And unlike antibodies, these cells will, as I said, loved long-term. And once they've killed that cell, they are now armed and ready to go on and kill another cancer cell or another cancer cell until they have no after the targets to kill. So natural killer cells and T cells can do similar things at killing cancer cells. And we looked at firstly, in a preclinical model, this isn't a mirroring model of a devastating pediatric cancer code neuroblastoma. And we showed that our novel NK cell therapy allowed these mice to survive long-term, much better than our previous generation NK cell therapy or the old school types or no treatment at all. So we went from the bench to the mouse, to the clinic, and we started with T-cell therapies for very difficult to treat pediatric solid tumors. We started without brain cancers because we were concerned that these T cells may elicit side effects that would not be tolerable. And those patients, however, we did treat a substance several It was about 15 pediatric patients, many of whom had were on palliative care had exhausted all other therapeutic options for the treatment of this solid tumors. And these were the press releases that were associated with this, with the study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology a couple of years ago. But as you can see here, there are some children living. For very long periods of time in patients who really were not expected to have a life expectancy beyond about three to six months. Furthermore, we showed that the patients after getting the T-cell therapy were living much longer than after or did not have disease progression for a lot longer compared to their previous standard chemotherapy where they were relapse and pretty early. And I urge you to go to Matthew story. He is a little boy with Wilms tumor who was told he had no other therapeutic options. He received. And these T cells that we made for him, we basically took his blood in the laboratory, retrained his T-cells to kill has cancer and