109 episodes

American Cancer Society scientists and grantees discuss the most critical questions in cancer research -- in language that we can all understand.

TheoryLa‪b‬ American Cancer Society

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 19 Ratings

American Cancer Society scientists and grantees discuss the most critical questions in cancer research -- in language that we can all understand.

    New imaging technology to identify cancers that require aggressive therapy

    New imaging technology to identify cancers that require aggressive therapy

    A key challenge in treating some cancers is the ability to distinguish tumors that are likely to metastasize from indolent disease that can be managed with active surveillance.

    Dr. Peder Larson has developed a non-invasive imaging method based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the rate at which a tumor creates lactic acid and transports it out of cells.

    In this conversation he explains how the technology works and how he hopes to create imaging biomarkers to identify cancers that require aggressive therapy.

    3:13 – Peder Larson, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Residence and a Principal Investigator in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco.
    He’s also a core member of the joint UC Berkeley–UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering.

    4:13 – How oncologists use imaging data

    8:57 – How does MRI work?

    13:11 – How MRIs are used in treatment decisions…

    15:56 – …and some of their limitations

    17:44 – How we could use MRIs to understand cancer metabolism

    21:55 – On the special type of MRI focused on differences in metabolism, called Hyperpolarized carbon-13 magnetic resonance imaging, how it works, and why it’s so cool

    25:43 – How he’s improved this technology

    28:57 – The impact of ACS funding on cancer research

    31:25 – A message he’d like to share with cancer patients, survivors and caregivers

    • 32 min
    “The most preventable, least prevented cancer”

    “The most preventable, least prevented cancer”

    Screening can prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths (polyps), as well as detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually less intensive and more successful.

    People living in rural areas are much less likely to undergo screening due to a number of barriers, but some rural clinics have achieved high colorectal cancer screening rates despite such constraints.

    Dr. Jennifer Weiss of the University of Wisconsin-Madison joins the podcast to talk about how these clinics have been successful in “developing relevant, impactful, and sustainable approaches to increasing colorectal cancer screening in rural communities.”

    The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk starting at age 45: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html.

    4:45 – Jennifer Weiss, MD, MS is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s a two-time American Cancer Society grantee.

    5:21 – Why she has described colorectal cancer as the “most preventable, but least prevented cancer”

    8:15 – The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk starting at age 45

    13:19 – On why where you live can impact access to colorectal cancer screening

    16:23 – Some rural clinics are doing better than others in terms of colorectal cancer screening and outcomes…

    20:11 – …why is that? What are they doing right?

    22:58 – A great real-life example of a rural clinic boosting screening rates

    29:05 – Gaps that she hopes her research will fill

    30:23 – What she’s most excited about

    33:18 – A message she’d like to share with cancer patients, survivors and caregivers

    • 34 min
    Applying virus-based nanotechnologies to cancer and COVID-19

    Applying virus-based nanotechnologies to cancer and COVID-19

    Dr. Nicole Steinmetz is well on her way in her mission to “push new frontiers in medicine and bio-nanotechnology through the design, development and testing of materials and biologics derived from plant viruses.”

    Plant viruses? Plant viruses.

    They’re non-infectious to humans. When injected into a tumor the immune system is alerted to their presence; finding no threat from the plant virus the immune cells fight the tumor instead.

    Dr. Steinmetz talks us through the technology she’s developed, explains how it can advance immunotherapy, and gives us a glimpse of how she and her team are applying this platform toward COVID-19 vaccine development.

    1:52 – Nicole Steinmetz, PhD, Professor of NanoEngineering and Director of the Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego

    2:34 – What are nanoparticles? Why are they useful in medicine?

    7:11 – The Ballad of the Ferrari and the Geo Storm

    9:25 - How nanoparticles are useful in cancer diagnostic and therapeutic approaches

    14:36 – Using plant viruses as nanotechnology (“They’re also naturally expert at the delivery of cargo” such as cancer therapeutics.)

    20:40 – How her lab is using plant virus-based nanotechnologies to improve immunotherapy delivery

    27:08 – How plant viruses nicely synergize with checkpoint therapies

    31:04 – How nanotechnology has been applied to COVID-19 vaccine development

    33:04 – The role her lab has played in developing COVID-19 vaccine candidates using plant viruses “that we could ship at room temperature around the world to people’s homes…You don’t even need to see a doctor; you can apply it like a bandage to get the vaccine.”

    35:05 – On how this is a platform technology that could be used against the next strain, the next mutant, the next virus

    36:28 – How support from the American Cancer Society has impacted her research

    38:06 – Her message for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers

    Stick around until the end for a few bonus questions on Baldeneysee, surfing, whales, and her favorite teacher growing up

    • 43 min
    Changing dietary patterns to impact colorectal cancer risk across the globe

    Changing dietary patterns to impact colorectal cancer risk across the globe

    When it comes to how diet affects colorectal cancer risk, it’s not just a question of whether you eat your fruits and vegetables. Are you eating the right combinations of foods? How do your dietary patterns influence your metabolism? How does genetics play a role?

    Dr. Fred Tabung just received an American Cancer Society research grant to explore these questions. He talked about how his study will identify specific groups for which certain dietary patterns might play a significant role in increasing or decreasing colorectal cancer risk.

    Fred Tabung, PhD, MSPH, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University and the Division of Medical Oncology at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    5:30 – Why the nutritional epidemiology of cancer is important

    7:05 – On some current trends in colorectal cancer diagnosis and mortality

    8:48 – Why he thinks the impact of our habitual dietary patterns on our metabolism and gut microbiome could impact colorectal cancer risk

    11:53 – Why insulin could be important in the development of colorectal cancer

    14:40 – Why it's important to look at food combinations

    18:02 – On his new ACS-funded study that includes more than 700,00 men and women across four continents…

    20:00 – …and how it could lead to exciting new opportunities to impact risk for colorectal cancer through changes to dietary patterns

    24:07 – Some helpful advice about specific healthy food combinations

    25:45 – A message he’d like to share with the donors who made his ACS research grant a reality

    • 27 min
    Female Founders: Incubating women-led technology start-ups at Georgia Tech

    Female Founders: Incubating women-led technology start-ups at Georgia Tech

    While working as program directors at Georgia Institute of Technology’s VentureLab—Georgia Tech’s incubator for technology startups—Melissa Heffner and Sara Henderson saw an opportunity to create a program for female entrepreneurs.

    Female Founders is “a four-week virtual cohort experience where participants gain a foundational knowledge of lean startup methodology and customer discovery while tackling topics associated with the specific journey of female-led startups:" https://www.icorpssouth.com/female-founders-initiative.

    Ms. Heffner joined the TheoryLab podcast along with three participants in the program to share advice for evidence-based entrepreneurship and talk about the exciting technology that is behind their respective start-ups.

    Melissa Heffner is a program director with Georgia Institute of Technology’s VentureLab and the co-creator of Female Founders.

    Ana Luz Quiroga Campano, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Biological Systems Engineering Laboratory at Emory University and Georgia Tech. She’s also the CEO of SANICKA.

    Allyson Jennings McKinney is a PhD candidate in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Kacie Kaile is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University.

    5:03 – On the purpose and goals of the Female Founders program

    5:49 – Why they saw a clear need for a program specifically for female entrepreneurs

    9:54 – Some of the ways they’re helping to set female entrepreneurs up for success

    11:08 – Allyson Jennings McKinney on what attracted her to Female Founders

    12:44 – On Solopulse—an exciting new technology she’s developed that utilizes a single pulse of a wave to create images of the surrounding environment—and its potential clinical impact

    16:10 – Dr. Ana Luz Quiroga Campano on how the Female Founders program has met her needs as a postdoctoral fellow

    18:21 – On the precision chemo-immunotherapy software tool developed by her company, SANICKA

    21:45 – Kacie Kaile on how Female Founders has changed her entrepreneurial approach

    23:37 – On a product she’s developed that provides a diagnostic assessment of tissue oxygenation using a smartphone with an add-on tool

    28:43 – Dr. Quiroga on why scientists shouldn’t feel hesitant about becoming an entrepreneur when they have an idea

    30:04 – Ms. McKinney with good advice on getting started as an entrepreneur

    31:41 – Ms. Kaile on the benefits of starting a company with support from an academic institution

    33:37 – Ms. Heffner with advice for cancer researchers thinking of starting a company in the oncology space

    • 35 min
    Investigating the rise of early-onset colorectal cancer

    Investigating the rise of early-onset colorectal cancer

    The troubling increase of early-onset colorectal cancer incidence and mortality has led to a shift in the age at which the American Cancer Society recommends beginning colorectal cancer screening, from age 50 to age 45.

    What are some of the biological and environmental factors that might be behind this rise in early-onset colorectal cancer? How can we prevent it?

    And what is behind the troubling racial and ethnic disparities we see in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality?

    Joining us to take us through these issues is one of the leading researchers in this space. Peter Campbell, PhD, is Scientific Director, Epidemiology Research, in the Population Science Department of the American Cancer Society.

    4:05 – The main areas of focus in his research program

    7:26 – The differing incidence and mortality rates for colorectal cancer in younger and older Americans

    10:57 – On racial/ethnic colorectal cancer disparities

    13:26 – Digging into the “why” behind some of these trends

    19:36 – How the American Cancer Society is trying to reduce disparities and reverse the rise of early-onset colorectal cancer

    23:04 – On the Colorectal Cancer Pooling Project

    26:18 – Where his team hopes this work could lead in 5 years

    28:37 – Thoughts on tumor heterogeneity
    (One of the challenges of colorectal cancer is that not only are tumors different from patient to patient, but they differ within individual patients as time progresses. Could these molecular differences in tumors could be associated with lifestyle? How could we find out?)

    31:58 – On what it might mean for colorectal cancer survival if there are associations between how we live and colorectal cancer heterogeneity

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
19 Ratings

19 Ratings

AmyM SD ,

ACS funds the best science

I’m so proud to work for the American Cancer Society! As non scientific staff, I enjoy learning about cancer research through TheoryLab.

umich cheme ,

Diverse topics, scientifically a bit shallow

Interesting podcast that covers a wide range of topics in cancer research. Only criticism is the scientific discussion is tailored to a very broad audience. A bit more Scientific rigor and detail would make it 5 stars in my book. Please keep it up!

Homergee ,


How many hope lodge patients had to stop treatment as you escorted them home ?

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