Thanks to the generosity of our co-host, Nancy Wiener Marcus, 100 attendees at the November 16 Leading the Conversation on Health event on the Old Parkland campus enjoyed hearing from UT Southwestern Medical Center's President, Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, Director of the NCI-designated Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Carlos Arteaga, and an expert panel on the hospital's differentiated and multidisciplinary cancer prevention and treatment programs.

The panel discussion with Dr. Theodora Ross, Director of the UT Southwestern Cancer Genetics Program, and Dr. Nisa Kubiliun, Medical Director of Endoscopy Services and gastroenterologist, centered around cancer genetics and how UT Southwestern is leveraging groundbreaking research in this field in its Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program and Cancer Genetics Program.

“The Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program at UT Southwestern Center has assembled a multidisciplinary team of experts from specialties including radiology, gastroenterology, surgical oncology, and cancer genetics with the goal of preventing pancreatic cancer by identifying and screening high risk individuals,” said Dr. Kubliun. “Until we develop effective treatment strategies for this deadly disease, our most powerful tool is preventing cancer before it develops. Our team combines unparalleled commitment, broad-based collaboration, and, most importantly, scientific and medical expertise to care for each patient."

With recommendation from a genetic counselor, patients can now take a simple and affordable blood test to be screened for gene mutations that point to an increased risk of developing the disease. This information informs the patient’s prevention strategy, including regular surveillance for abnormalities in the pancreas. However, Dr. Ross stressed that it’s important to remember that our knowledge about genes, especially in the context of cancer, continues to evolve.

“Our cancer genetics team at UTSW can help you get the courage to learn more about your family’s health history, participate in cancer research and get the testing you need,” said Dr. Ross. “Learning about your genetic inheritance of cancer predisposition is a multipronged activity from family history spelunking to gene sequencing. From the laboratory to the clinic, the new era of genetics is a fast evolution. What we said yesterday will certainly be refined, and possibly overturned tomorrow. Genetic analysis is, therefore, a process, not an event.”

Leading the Conversation on Health began in 2013 to share thought leadership and new information on the extraordinary strides being made in advancing medical education, biomedical research, and innovative patient care. We are truly grateful for the support that makes this series possible.

“Until we develop effective treatment strategies for this deadly disease, our most powerful tool is preventing cancer before it develops. Our team combines unparalleled commitment, broad-based collaboration, and, most importantly, scientific and medical expertise to care for each patient.”

Dr. Nisa Kubiliun, Medical Director of Endoscopy Services, UT Southwestern

“Nancy Wiener Marcus’ dedication in advocating for and supporting work that elevates the capabilities of programs like this at UT Southwestern is such an important gift to our community,” said Kathleen Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful for generous donors like Nancy, who support innovative and leading Programs focused on early detection, identifying risk factors, and finding a cure.”

If you’d like to learn more about how you can support events like this or medical research at UT Southwestern, please contact Alex Sizemore at Southwestern Medical Foundation at 214.351.6143.

Click here to see photos from the event.
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