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Astronomy meets pathology: An interdisciplinary effort to discover predictive biomarker signatures for immuno-oncology

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Astronomy meets pathology: An interdisciplinary effort to discover predictive biomarker signatures for immuno-oncology

02 December 2020

12:00 p.m. ET

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Speakers

Dramatic success has been demonstrated in treating certain advanced metastatic cancers using immunotherapy. Yet, patients who respond represent a minority of cases. The discovery of new predictive biomarkers is critical to improving our ability to (1) predict whether a patient is likely to respond to available drugs and (2) guide treatment decisions. Platforms that can elucidate the spatial relationship between immune system cells and the tumor are critical to this endeavor. Recent advances in multiplex immunofluorescence (mIF) have made it possible to map the tumor microenvironment across an entire tissue section mounted on a microscope slide with single-cell resolution. An innovative approach has been developed to analyze large mIF datasets using celestial object–mapping algorithms to rapidly identify optimized predictive phenotypic signatures. This interdisciplinary platform, called AstroPath, makes use of immunology, pathology, computer science, and astronomy to lay the foundation for rapid, efficient biomarker discovery.

During the webinar, the speakers will:

  • Describe how the AstroPath technology was conceived and developed
  • Share examples of successes applying AstroPath to answering questions about interactions
  • between the tumor microenvironment and the immune system
  • Provide preliminary results of comparisons across different institutions to assess mIF assay performance
  • Answer your questions live during the broadcast.

This webinar will last for approximately 60 minutes.

Speaker bios

Janis Taube, M.D., M.Sc.

Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD

Dr. Taube is the director of the Dermatopathology Division and Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research interests center on immune evasion by solid tumors—specifically studying the PD-L1/PD-1 axis—and the identification of potential biomarkers of response to novel immunotherapies. This inquiry requires a focus on immunohistochemical and molecular methods for identifying cell-surface antigens and signaling pathways in paraffin-embedded tissue. Dr. Taube’s laboratory described PD-L1–mediated adaptive immune resistance by melanoma, a finding that has now been extended to other tumor types. She also developed a robust immunohistochemistry assay and interpretation methods for studying PD-L1 as it relates to therapeutic response. Versions of this assay are now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical use. Her ongoing research efforts are aimed at further characterizing the local tumor microenvironment, with the goal of developing rational treatment combinations and improving patient selection algorithms.

Alexander S. Szalay, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Dr. Szalay is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy and of Computer Science at the Johns Hopkins University. He is a cosmologist, working on the statistical measures of the spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy formation. He was born and educated in Hungary. After graduating with a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Eötvös University in Hungary, he spent postdoctoral periods at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago before accepting a faculty position at Johns Hopkins. He is the architect for the Science Archive of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and was project director of the National Science Foundation–funded National Virtual Observatory. He has written over 500 papers, covering areas ranging from theoretical cosmology to observational astronomy, spatial statistics, and computer science. He is a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the Alexander Von Humboldt Award in Physical Sciences in 2004 and the Microsoft Jim Gray eScience Award in 2007. In 2008, he became doctor honoris causa of Eötvös University and in 2015, received the IEEE Computer Society Sidney Fernbach Award for his contributions to data-intensive computing. Most recently, he was awarded the Viktor Ambartsumian International Science Prize (2020) for his contributions to physical cosmology.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Science/AAAS
Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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