Inspiring Speakers

David Bowtell
PhD, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Professor Bowtell holds a Joint appointment as Group Leader and Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Garvan Institute and Head of the Cancer Genomics and Genetics Program at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. He was Director of Research at Peter Mac for a decade from 2000.

Professor Bowtell has an extensive background human cancer genomics. He is Principal Investigator for the Australian Ovarian Cancer Study (AOCS), one of the largest population-based cohort studies of ovarian cancer in the world, involving over 3000 women. His work is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium, an ambitious program to map the genomes of the 50 most common cancer types. Professor Bowtell’s research has focused on the classification of ovarian cancer, and mechanisms of primary and acquired drug resistance .
Robert Bristow
PhD, MD, FRCPC, University Health Network-Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
Dr. Bristow is currently a Clinician-Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre where he is treats genitourinary cancers and Professor within the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. His primary research interests are in tumour hypoxia, genome instability and prostate cancer genomics in the context of personalized cancer medicine.
Georgia Chenevix-Trench
PhD, QIMR Berghofer (Queensland Institute of Medical Research), Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Professor Chenevix-Trench is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Head of the Cancer Genetics Laboratory at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). She is also the conjoint Professor in the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Queensland. She holds a BA (Hons) from the Department of Genetics at Trinity College in Ireland, and was awarded a PhD in 1985 from the Department of Human Genetics at the Medical College of Virginia in USA. Her current research at the QIMR focussed mainly on the study of genes that predispose stomach, breast and ovarian cancers, and genes involved in response to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients. She has played a leading role in national efforts to establish resources for this kind of research, and is involved in many international consortia aimed at coordinating these gene finding efforts.
Francis Collins
MD, PhD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Francis S. Collins is the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In that role he oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH from 1993-2008. Before coming to the NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.
Fergus Couch
Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, MN, USA
Dr. Fergus Couch is a Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic. He has conducted many genetic, epidemiological, and molecular studies of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast and ovarian cancer predisposition genes. His recent work is focused on BRCA1 and BRCA2 unclassified variants and on identification of genetic modifiers of breast and ovarian cancer risk in BRCA1 carriers.
Ronny Drapkin
MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Ronny Drapkin, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and the Director of Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also on the Leadership Team of the Basser Center for BRCA as Director of Gynecological Research. His research activities focus on understanding the pathogenesis of gynecologic malignancies and integrating genomic and epigenetic findings into novel experimental model systems developed in his laboratory. The ultimate goal of his research is to translate important biological principles discovered in the laboratory into clinically useful diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
Douglas Easton
PhD, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Douglas Easton graduated in mathematics from the University of Cambridge and gained his PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. He returned to Cambridge in 1995, where he is currently Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Director of the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology, based at Strangeways Research Laboratory. His main research interests are in the genetic epidemiology of cancer and related statistical methods. His group carries out research into inherited predisposition to cancer, with a particular emphasis on hormone-related cancers. In 2007 he led the first genome-wide association study in breast cancer. He co-ordinates the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, a collaborative group that has collected data from over 200,000 individuals from over 70 studies and has identified approximately 100 genetic loci for breast cancer. His group has developed the BOADICEA model, widely used for genetic counselling.
Laurie Elit
MD, MSc, FRCS(C) McMaster University, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Laurie Elit, MD, MSc, FRCS(C), is a full professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University and division head of Gynecologic Oncology at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre in Hamilton, Canada. Her research interests have focused on health services delivery to women with gynecologic cancers and treatment decision making in ovarian cancer. She chairs the gynecologic disease site group for the Program in Evidence Based Medicine for Cancer Care Ontario and she co-chairs the hysterectomy Quality Based Procedure team for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. She has an interest in serving in low resource settings for example in the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program at Georgetown Public Hospital, Guyana through the Wondoor/Global Health program.
Gareth Evans
MB, BS, MD, FRCP, St. Mary's Hospital, Manchester, UK
Professor Evans has established a national and international reputation in clinical and research aspects of cancer genetics, particularly in neurofibromatosis and breast cancer. He has published 609 peer reviewed research publications; 228 as first or senior author, over 80 reviews and chapters and two books. He has an ISI web of knowledge H-index of 82 and google scholar of 111. In the last 7 years he has raised over £12 million in grants for multicentre and local studies –approximately £6 million to Manchester. He is Chief Investigator on a £1.59 million NIHR program grant PROCAS(2009-2014). He is lead clinician on the NICE familial breast cancer guideline group and is a trustee of BCN.
Blake Gilks
Professor, Dept of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Dr. Gilks is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of British Columbia. He completed fellowships in gynecological and molecular pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and an MD at Dalhousie University. His research interest is the pathology of gynecological cancers. He is focusing on attempting to refine current classification by addition of immunohistochemical markers through analysis of large retrospective series of cases, using tissue microarrays.
David Goldgar
PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
David Goldgar, PhD, is a research professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah and member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CCPS) Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Goldgar's research involves the genetic study of breast cancer and melanoma. He studies methods to clinically classify the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Before leaving the University of Utah to assume the position of chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Unit at the International Association of Cancer Research in Lyon, France, Goldgar was a member of the team that led to the localization, cloning, or characterization of the cancer predisposing BRCA1, BRCA2, and CDKN2A (p16) mutations. Goldgar joined the CCPS Program in 2008 upon his return to the University of Utah.

Goldgar earned a bachelor's degree and PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Nicoline Hoogerbrugge
MD, PhD, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Prof Hoogerbrugge has the ambition of improving detection, diagnosis and treatment of hereditary cancer and preventing cancer in relatives. Her research in the past 5 years resulted in:
1) Detection of various new genetic risk factors for gastrointestinal cancer.
2) Improved recognition of hereditary cancer.
3) Knowledge concerning efficient and effective implementation of guidelines on hereditary cancer.
4) Knowledge on the psychosocial impact of hereditary cancer.
5) Development of vaccination against Lynch Syndrome.
Karen Hurley
PhD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA
Karen E. Hurley is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice specializing in hereditary cancer risk, with adjunct appointments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Teachers College-Columbia University. She has conducted research on cancer risk decision-making and provided psychological services to over 400 high-risk individuals, families, & couples. In 2014, she received a “Spirit of Empowerment” Award from FORCE for individual commitment to the hereditary breast/ovarian cancer community.
Lisa Madlensky
PhD, CGC, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
Dr. Madlensky has provided cancer genetic counseling services for over 20 years. She has practiced in the United States and Canada, and was a founding member of the Familial Cancer Risk group of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), establishing cancer genetic counseling as a sub-specialty.

Clinical research themes include clinical genetic testing and follow-up for families with familial cancer risk, the public health implications of cancer genetic testing, quality of life in those at increased risk of cancer, the integration of cancer risk assessment into family practice, and family-level cancer prevention. She also studies the impact of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and the relationship between germline and somatic mutations in cancer.
Wendy McKinnon
MS, CGC, University of Vermont Cancer Center, Burlington, VT, USA
Wendy McKinnon is a certified genetic counselor who specializes in genetic counseling and testing for familial cancer. She is the coordinator for the Familial Cancer Program at the University of Vermont Cancer Center, where she has worked since graduating from the University of Michigan’s genetic counseling program. She has been in the field of cancer genetic counseling since its inception and has been involved in publishing guidelines for practice, as well as involved in a number of research studies related to the field.
Steven Narod
MD, FRCPC, Women's College Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Dr. Narod is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer. He studies how to assess breast and ovarian cancer risk and reduce its mortality amongst carriers of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
Katherine Nathanson
MD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Katherine (Kate) L. Nathanson, MD is a Professor of Medicine, in the Division of Translational Medicine and Human Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She also is Associate Director for Population Sciences in Abramson Cancer Center, as well as co-Leader of the Cancer Control Program and Chief Oncogenomics Physician, as well as Director of Genetics for the Basser Center for BRCA Research. Dr. Nathanson is an internationally recognized cancer geneticist for both her clinical and research expertise. Her research focuses on both inherited susceptibility to cancer and somatic genetic characterization of tumors, with interests across multiple tumor types, including testicular germ cell tumors, breast and ovarian cancers, melanoma and neuroendocrine tumors.
Paul Pharoah
BM, BCh, PhD, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Dr. Pharoah studied clinical medicine at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and graduated in 1986. He is a specialist in public health medicine and was appointed Reader in Cancer Epidemiology by the University of Cambridge in 2009. His major research interests have been:
i) common genetic variation and breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility,
ii) methodological issues in investigating the polygenic basis of cancer susceptibility (gene-gene interaction), and
iii) the role of germ line genotype in determining the clinicopathological characteristics of breast and ovarian cancer.
Sharon E. Plon
MD, PhD, FACMG, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
Dr. Plon is a board-certified medical geneticist with a focus on cancer genetics. Her laboratory research has focused on the study of maintenance of genomic stability using the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and molecular studies of childhood cancer susceptibility syndromes. Dr. Plon's clinical research has focused on the implementation of genetic testing for cancer risk assessment including funding from the NHGRI for a study of physician interpretation of genetic test results. She is the past-chair of the BIC (BRCA1/2 mutation database) steering committee and has participated in an international effort to improve the utility of DNA-sequence based genetic test reports.
Jorge Reis-Filho
MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA
Dr. Reis-Filho is a surgical pathologist with experience in breast cancer gene expression profiling and genomics, and in combining traditional pathology information with data generated with high-throughput molecular techniques. He obtained his medical degree from University of Porto, Portugal, and Universidade Federal do Parana, Brazil, and completed his PhD on breast cancer molecular pathology at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK. He was Chair and Professor of Molecular Pathology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. A recipient of numerous awards, he is the youngest ever Fellow of The Royal College of Pathologists to have become a member by published works. He is the international editor of Advances in Anatomical Pathology, an associate editor of The Journal of Pathology and BMC Cancer, and a member of the scientific advisory board of Science Translational Medicine.
Mark Robson
MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA
Mark Robson is an Associate Attending Physician of the Clinical Genetics and Breast Cancer Medicine Services in the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He received his B.Sc. from Washington and Lee University and his M.D. from the University of Virginia. He performed residency and fellowship training at Walter Reed Army Medical center before coming to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 1996. He is currently the Clinic Director of the Clinical Genetics Service and the chair of the Cancer Genetics Subcommittee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Robson's research is directed toward the improving the integration of genetic information into the clinical management of women with breast cancer. He and his colleagues have conducted a number of studies examining outcomes in women with hereditary breast cancer to better define the risks and benefits of treatments such as breast conserving therapy and adjuvant chemotherapy in this group. He and his coworkers have also conducted a number of studies examining the effectiveness of screening interventions such as breast MRI or ovarian cancer screening in women at hereditary risk. He is currently conducting studies to evaluate the impact of intensive screening or surgical prevention upon women's quality of life, and to develop new screening tools, such as serum peptide profiling.
Matti Rookus
PhD, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
As an epidemiologist her main field of interest is the etiology of breast and ovarian cancer, with focus on modifiable lifestyle risk factors such as use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, physical activity, Body Mass Index, early lifestyle factors and shift work. She conducts a Dutch national prospective cohort study among families with a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer (HEBON Study) and coordinates the prospective International BRCA1/2 mutation Carrier Cohort Study (IBCCS) and the epidemiologic part of the Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2 (CIMBA).
Agnel Sfeir
PhD, NYU Medical Center, New York, NY, USA
Dr. Agnel Sfeir received her B.S and M.Sc. in Biology from the American University of Beirut. She then moved to the U.S. to pursue her PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After completing her post-doctoral training with Titia de Lange at the Rockefeller University, she joined the Skirball Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center as an assistant professor in January of 2012. Her research focuses on how mammalian cells ensure the stability of their genomes. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, Pew-Stewart Scholarship for Cancer research, and an award from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Thomas Slavin
MD, FACMG, DABMD, City of Hope, Duarte, CA, USA
Dr. Slavin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology, Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Slavin graduated with honors with both an undergraduate degree and medical doctorate at the University of South Florida. Following medical school, he completed both a pediatric and a medical genetics residency program at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital/University Hospitals, Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. In residency he completed a postdoctoral year in genetic epidemiology where he identified novel genetic epidemiologic associations for coronary artery disease and hypertension. Dr. Slavin is board certified in clinical genetics, molecular diagnostics and pediatrics, and is an accomplished and experienced clinician, clinical researcher and committed teacher. His particular research interests are in preventative and precision cancer genomics, and epidemiology. He has 19 peer-reviewed publications and has presented at numerous national meetings.
Jill Stopfer
MS, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Jill Stopfer, MS is a licensed genetic counselor and Associate Director of Genetic Counseling at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, working with individuals and families with hereditary risks to cancer, and on a number of research projects looking to optimize the way genetic counseling is offered considering new testing and practice standards. She was a founding member of the Cancer Genetics Programs at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 where she worked until this year. Jill is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with a Masters degree in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling. She was one of the first genetic counselors in the country to focus primarily in oncology.
Marc Tischkowitz
PhD, FRCP, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Dr. Tischkowitz is a University Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Consultant in the Department of Medical Genetics. He completed his medical degree in 1993 and trained Medical Oncology before completing his specialisation in Medical Genetics. From 1999-2002 he undertook a PhD researching the role of Fanconi anemia gene mutations in the development of sporadic acute myeloid leukaemia. He held a Consultant post at Great Ormond Street Hospital before moving to McGill University, Montreal in 2005 where he worked on Faculty for six years before coming to Cambridge. Much of his research has been on the Fanconi Anemia genes and hereditary breast cancer predisposition but his interests cover all areas of hereditary cancer and at present he is focussed on translating the recent advances in genomic technology into clinical practice.
Andrew Tutt
MB, ChB, PhD, MRCP, FRCR, Section of Research Oncology, Guys Hospital Campus, London, UK
Dr. Tutt trained at the Royal Marsden Hospital and in Professor Ashworth's laboratory at the Institute of Cancer Research. There he described the DNA repair functions of BRCA2. He now focuses on novel therapy approaches for cancers associated with functional deficiencies in BRCA1 and BRCA2. This work has identified PARP as a new target for therapy now extending into phase II clinical trials.
George Zogopoulos
MD, PhD, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada
Dr. Zogopoulos completed his clinical training at the University of Toronto, and his research training at McGill University and at the University of Toronto. He obtained his PhD in Experimental Medicine at McGill University, where he studied the regulatory mechanisms of a gene responsible for human growth. He pursued postdoctoral research training during his residency, enrolling in the surgeon-scientist program of the University of Toronto. His research fellowship was undertaken at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, where he studied the hereditary aspects of colon and pancreas cancer. His current research focuses on gastrointestinal cancer genetics, with an emphasis on pancreas cancer. A clinical research registry of patients with pancreas cancer is being developed, with the goals of providing patients with opportunities to participate in translational clinical research and early detection programs (www.cancerpancreas.ca). A resource of high quality clinical data, biospecimens, animal models, and self-renewing cells from patients with pancreas cancer is being established for hereditary, tumour characterization, and drug sensitivity studies.