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JCB-JEM Symposium: Tackling Cancer Plasticity and Heterogeneity

Meeting summary

On October 9, 2018 the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) and Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) presented a free, one-day symposium on the state of cancer research. The symposium brought together prominent and diverse researchers studying the complexity of tumor biology from molecular, cell biological, biomedical, and clinical perspectives, bridging innovative, foundational studies and patient care.

The symposium included talks by leading scientists and a poster session showcasing the latest research on

  • cancer immunology and immunotherapy
  • tumor metabolism
  • cancer epigenetics
  • cancer genetics
  • tumor microenvironment

The symposium was organized by


9:15 AM Introductory remarks - Ira Mellman
9:30–10:00 AM Lewis Cantley (Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College/Ronald P. Stanton Clinical Cancer Program at New York-Presbyterian, Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine)
"PI 3-Kinase and Cancer Metabolism"
10:00–10:30 AM Dafna Bar-Sagi (Senior Vice President and Vice Dean for Science, Chief Scientific Officer; Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Professor, Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine)
"Oncogenic Ras-dependent Determinants of Tumor Fitness"
Morning break Refreshments served
11:00–11:30 AM Golnaz Vahedi (Assistant Professor of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania)
"Exploiting Chromatin Biology To Understand Gene Regulation in T Cells"
11:30 AM –12:00 PM Ming Li (Member, Immunology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
"Immunity and Tolerance in Cancer"
12:00–1:30 PM On your own for lunch
1:30–2:00 PM Carol Prives (Da Costa Professor, Columbia University)
"Travels with p53 and Mdm2 – and Some Surprises Along the Way"
2:00–2:30 PM Christopher Vakoc (Principal Investigator, Associate Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
"Lineage Reprogramming in Cancer"
2:45–3:45 PM Poster session, refreshments served
3:45–4:15 PM Miriam Merad (Professor of Oncological Science, Medicine [Hem/Onc division], and Immunology; Member, Immunology Institute and The Tisch Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine)
"Mapping Myeloid Cell Contribution to Cancer Lesions"
4:15–4:45 PM Jedd Wolchok (Chief, Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service; Member and Attending Physician, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
"Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade: Dissecting Mechanisms and Next Steps"
4:45 PM Concluding remarks & poster prize selected by organizers - Emmanuelle Passegué

Special collection

Explore our special collection of  exciting JCB and JEM content about cancer plasticity and heterogeneity.


Portions of the symposium were live-streamed to registered viewers. Watch some of the talks below.

Ira Mellman, Introductory remarks
Dr. Mellman welcomes the audience and introduces the symposium’s themes.


Lewis Cantley, PI 3-Kinase and Cancer Metabolism
Dr. Cantley discusses how the pool of folate metabolites in triple-negative breast cancer cells responds to methotrexate treatment.


Ming Li, Immunity and Tolerance in Cancer
Dr. Li describes the various functions of innate lymphoid cells in the MMTV-PyMT mouse model of breast cancer.


Carol Prives, Travels with p53 and Mdm2 – and Some Surprises Along the Way
Dr. Prives focuses on the roles of wildtype and mutated p53 in the regulation of the mevalonate pathway, which controls the biosynthesis of sterols and other essential metabolites, in murine and human cancers.


Christopher Vakoc, Lineage Reprogramming in Cancer
Dr. Vakoc examines how epigenetic landscapes change as tumors progress and discusses some of the proteins that are needed to sustain particular epigenetic signatures.


Miriam Merad, Mapping Myeloid Cell Contribution to Cancer Lesions
Dr. Merad presents a comprehensive analysis of the immune cells associated with non-small cell lung cancer.


Jedd Wolchok, Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade: Dissecting Mechanisms and Next Steps
Dr. Wolchok provides an overview of immunologic checkpoint blockade therapy and presents evidence that adaptive immunity mobilizes innate cells to clear tumors but also promotes off-target side effects.


Emmanuelle Passegué, Concluding remarks & poster prize selected by organizers
Dr. Passequé concludes the symposium and awards the poster prize to Dr. María Casanova-Acebes,


The meeting took place at the Carson Family Auditorium, on the lower level of the Collaborative Research Center Building on The Rockefeller University campus.

The Rockefeller University campus is located at 1230 York Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The main entrance is at the corner of York Avenue and 66th Street. The campus is easily accessed by bus (M31 and M66) and subway (F and Q at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue/Second Avenue; N, R, W, 4, and 5 at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue; 6 at 68th Street/Lexington Avenue). The closest Citi Bike stations are at First Avenue/67th Street, First Avenue/62nd Street, York/60th Street, and York/72nd Street.

Poster session

The poster session featured 16 posters that presented timely, novel, and exciting work related to cancer in one of the following fields:

  • immunology
  • immunotherapy
  • tumor microenvironment
  • cell biology
  • metabolism
  • epigenetics and chromatin biology
  • genome integrity
  • signaling

Dr. María Casanova-Acebes, from Miriam Merad’s lab at the Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, was awarded an Apple iPad and a 12-month personal subscription to Journal of Cell Biology and Journal of Experimental Medicine, for her poster presentation titled “Lineage–tracing reveals a unique contribution of embryonic macrophages to NSCLC progression.”


The organizers are committed to creating a collegial and constructive atmosphere and to providing professional development opportunities to a diverse group of junior researchers. The organizers encourage trainees of all levels to ask questions throughout the symposium and to contact organizers, presenters, and/or attendees in advance of the meeting to network and discuss their work.

Because talks and posters will present unpublished data, audio/video equipment such as cameras and recording devices are prohibited from the auditorium and poster session. While we do not prohibit laptops, tablets, or cell phones, they must not be used for recording/filming/photographing any part of the symposium. Electronic devices should be operated in "silent" mode out of consideration for speakers and other attendees.

Whether talks are tweetable will be indicated to the attendees—please refrain from tweeting about talks and posters without the presenter’s permission.


Rockefeller University Press gratefully acknowledge that the JCB–JEM Symposium: Tackling Cancer Plasticity and Heterogeneity was supported by a grant from Genentech.

Connect with us:

Social media
Official meeting hashtag: #TacklingCancer2018

On Twitter
Follow and tag: @jcellbio and @jexpmed

On Facebook
Journal of Cell Biology and Journal of Experimental Medicine


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