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11th Annual Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC 2020) Opens with Awards Ceremony at Genentech Hall, UCSF Mission Bay; Awards Given to Three Major Contributors to Advance of Precision Medicine—Philip Greenberg, Laura van’t Veer, & Brook Byers

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC 2020) opened its eleventh annual meeting ("How Do We Accelerate Precision Medicine and Deliver on Its Promises?”) centered in Silicon Valley on Tuesday evening, January 21, with an awards ceremony at Genentech Hall at UCSF Mission Bay in South San Francisco. (Editor’s Note: Including smaller regional meetings, the PMWC has organized 17 precision medicine meetings in total, since its inaugural Silicon Valley conference in 2009). UCSF was one of three co-hosts of this conference. The other hosts were Stanford Health and the Institute for Precision Medicine, a partnership of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Awards ceremony honored three distinguished contributors to the advance of precision medicine. The MC of the PMWC Awards ceremony was Keith Yamamoto, PhD, Chancellor for Research, Executive Vice Dean of the School of Medicine, and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF. PMWC Luminary Awards were presented to Philip Greenberg (photo here, see additional event photos at end), MD, Head, Program in Immunology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Professor of Medicine and Immunology, University of Washington; and Member, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology; and to Laura J. van’t Veer, PhD., Inventor, MammaPrint; Professor of Laboratory Medicine, and Director, Applied Genomics, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The PMWC Luminary Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to accelerate personalized medicine within the clinical setting. Dr. Greenberg received his Luminary Award for “discoveries that led to adoptive immunotherapy with genetically engineered T cells.” Dr. van’t Veer won her Luminary Award for being a “leader and visionary entrepreneur in precision genomic diagnostics.” The PMWC Pioneer Award was presented to Brook Byers, Founder and Partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, which has been centrally involved in the funding of numerous biotech start-ups. Mr. Byers received his Pioneer Award in recognition of his efforts that “enabled precision medicine through the venture backing of companies that entered the field early and through his mentorship of their founders.” Additional information on the PMWC 2020 awardees is below.

LUMINARY AWARD--PHILIP GREENBERG, PHD

Dr. Greenberg’s research has focused on elucidating fundamental principles of T-cell and tumor interactions; developing cellular and molecular approaches to manipulate T-cell immunity; and translating insights to the clinic enabling adoptive therapy with genetically engineered T cells.

Internationally recognized as a leader in the cancer immunology field, his laboratory performed some of the earliest studies focused on how immune T cells can recognize and eliminate malignant cells in the context of progressing tumors.

Dr. Greenberg’s lab has developed technologies to isolate and expand functional, antigen-specific T cells to numbers large enough to be effective when given to patients as “adoptive” immune-boosting therapy. More recently, these advances, along with efforts to identify and validate tumor antigen targets, led to the development of anti-cancer therapies using naturally isolated and expanded or genetically-engineered T cells.

Dr. Greenberg has authored more than 280 manuscripts and received many honors including the Cancer Research Institute’s William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology; the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s Team Science Award for Career Achievements; and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research and an Editor-in-Chief of Cancer Immunology Research.

Dr. Greenberg received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, an MD from State University of New York, a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Immunology from University of California, San Diego, and a Clinical and Research Fellowship in Oncology from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
In his acceptance remarks, Dr. Greenberg emphasized the importance of continually asking questions and seeking answers to those questions. Attempts to answer key questions of immunology have driven much of Dr. Greenberg’s seminal work in immunotherapy.

Dr. Greenberg was introduced by Theresa LaVallee, PhD, VP of Translational Medicine and Regulatory Affairs, Parker Institute of Cancer Immunotherapy.

In the regular meeting which started the next day, Dr. Greenberg participated in a fireside chat on Immunotherapy with Dr. LaVallee.

You may view a Q&A interview that the PMWC did with Dr. Greenberg at the following link (https://www.pmwcintl.com/philip-greenberg-2020sv-qa/).

LUMINARY AWARD--LAURA VAN’T VEER, PHD

Dr. van ‘t Veer is a world-renowned molecular biologist whose research focuses on precision medicine to advance patient management based on knowledge of the genetic makeup of the tumor and the patient. As inventor of MammaPrint, she has made a seminal impact on “rightsizing” the treatment of breast cancer and on molecular genomics. A recent publication (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1602253) in the New England Journal of Medicine on the MINDACT trial shows that 46% of breast cancer patients who are clinically high risk and considered for chemotherapy, can safely forgo this treatment based on a Low Risk MammaPrint result.

Prior to joining UCSF, Dr. van’t Veer served as the Head of Diagnostic Oncology at The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Dr. van ‘t Veer is currently the Biomarker Committee Chair for the Foundation of NIH- sponsored multicenter adaptive clinical trial I-SPY 2, overseeing the processes for FDA-IDE biomarker usage and qualifying biomarker companion diagnostic testing. She served in the years 2010-2014 as Board member of the American Association of Cancer Research.

Dr. van ‘t Veer has over 230 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is co-inventor of 6 patents. She received the 2007 European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) life-time achievement award for translational research in breast cancer and the prestigious European Union Women Innovator Award, 2nd prize in 2014.

Dr. van ‘t Veer received undergraduate training in Biology and an MS in Molecular Oncology at the University of Amsterdam. She earned her PhD in Medicine at the University of Leiden in the Nethrlands, as well as two postdoctoral fellowships, first at the Cancer Center of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and then at the Division of Molecular Carcinogenesis at The Netherlands Cancer Institute.
Dr. van’t Veer was introduced by Mark Straley, CEO, Agendia, the company that markets the MammaPrint test and of which Dr. van’t Veer is a Co-Founder.

In the regular session of PMWC 2020, Dr. van’t spoke in the session on “Leveraging Real-World Evidence to Drive Decisions.” This session emphasized that patient-centric data – Real-World Evidence (RWE) and Real-World Data (RWD) - is becoming instrumental in the drug development process and for health care decisions in general.
This data is not only informing for the process from discovery to new indications, clinical trial design and drug development, it also can be of value to monitor post-marketing drug safety and for decision support in clinical practice.
As the data becomes a decision driver, science companies and medical organizations are increasingly focused on leveraging RWD and RWE data to better understand the patient populations using their drugs and the respective outcomes and to accelerate clinical decision support.

The session focused on the various aspects of integrating RWE and RWD to support drug development and clinical decision support.

PIONEER AWARD--BROOK BYERS, MBA

The PMWC 2020 Pioneer Award went to Brook Byers, MBA, who has helped enable the creation of precision medicine through the financial backing of companies that ventured into the field early and through his mentorship and coaching of their founders. A venture capitalist since 1972, Brook formed the first Life Sciences practice group in the profession in 1984 and then led his firm to become a premier venture capital firm in the medical, biotechnology, and healthcare sectors. His firm, Kleiner Perkins (KP) (https://www.kleinerperkins.com/) (formerly Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), invested in and helped build more than 125 life science companies, many of which served as the foundation of precision medicine through their use of advanced testing, targeted therapeutics, molecular biology, and genomics.

Precision medicine companies that Brook has enabled and supported-- including Genomic Health, Veracyte, Foundation Medicine, Pacific Biosciences, CareDx, Verana, Octave, Cell Design Labs and Arsenal, to name just a few--have developed precision medicine products and services to meet the underserved needs of millions of patients.

Brook was the founding President and then Chairman of a myriad of precision medicine and biotech companies which were incubated in KPCB’s offices and went on to become public companies. He is particularly proud of Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody therapy discovered at Idec, which he incubated at Kleiner Perkins, serving as the company’s first CEO. Over 4.4 million patients have been treated for cancer and autoimmune diseases with the drug.

Brook has served on the Board of Directors of many companies--among them Idec Pharmaceuticals (Chairman), Athena Neurosciences (Chairman), Signal Pharmaceuticals, Pharmacopeia, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Hybritech (Chairman), and Genprobe.

Brook co-founded and is active with the Coalition for 21st Century Medicine. Brook currently serves as a Lifetime Director of the UCSF Foundation, Director of the New Schools Foundation, Member of the Stanford Medical Advisory Council, and as Advisor to Stanford Medicine’s Precision Health and Integrated Diagnostics Center.

UCSF awarded Brook the UCSF Medal, its honorary degree equivalent and he received an honorary PhD, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Brook was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Venture Capital Association.
Brook graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech University and received an MBA from Stanford.

Brook was introduced by Robert Woodward, Senior Vice President for Research & Development, CareDx (https://www.caredx.com/), and also by Bonnie Anders, Founder, Chairman of the Board, and CEO of Veracyte (https://www.veracyte.com/).

CO-HOSTS OF PMWC 2020

Co-hosts of PMWC 2020 included the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), Stanford Health Care, and the Institute for Precision Medicine, a partnership of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. A regional and somewhat smaller PMWC 2020 conference will be held in Pittsburgh on June 4-5, 2020. The theme of the Pittsburgh conference will be “Empowering Health Care Systems Through Precision Medicine Research.” (https://www.pmwcintl.com/east/).

PMWC 2020 ORGANIZERS

This year’s meeting, which was organized by Tal Behar, Co-Founder & President, PMWC LLC, and her husband Gadi Behar, Co-Founder & Chairman, PMWC LLC, Silicon Ventures, counted more than 2,300 attendees (a new record), over 400 presentations from high-end speakers, and nearly 100 company exhibits.

PMWC 2020 PROGRAM CHAIRS

The PMWC 2020 Program Chairs were Tal Behal and Michael Pellini, MD, MBA, Managing Partner, Section 32 (a venture fund), and Former CEO, Foundation Medicine.

PMWC 2020 SPONSORS

Sponsors of PMWC 2020 included Illumina, Agendia, Bio-Rad, QIAGEN, RubAdaptive, Agilent, Caprion, GO, Google Cloud, Gritstone, Karius, Molecular Health, RubrYc, Oncocyte, Siemens Healthineers, Sophia, Thermo-Fisher Scientific, Quanterix, and Tabula Rasa HealthCare.

Top: Dr. Philip Greenberg & Dr. van't Veer. Bottom: Brook Byers & Dr. van't Veer (with flowers) with many of her UCSF group and colleagues who came to see her honored. Woman at far right is UCSF's world-famous breast cancer surgeon and oncologist Laura Esserman, MD.