3 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 • 23 Ratings

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

    Improving treatment of inflammatory breast cancer

    Improving treatment of inflammatory breast cancer

    Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is rare and accounts for only 1% to 5% of all breast cancers, but it is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows quickly and is more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. It causes symptoms of breast inflammation like swelling and redness, which is caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin causing the breast to look "inflamed."

    Gayathri R. Devi, PhD, is a two-time American Cancer Society grantee who recently received a Mission Boost Grant to “boost” her inflammatory breast cancer research and move it closer to patients.

    Dr. Devi joined the podcast to talk about risk factors for IBC, how it’s different from other breast cancer types, and recent advances in her lab with promising clinical implications.

    Dr. Devi is Program Director for the Duke Consortium for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Associate Professor of Surgery and Pathology at Duke School of Medicine, and the Director of the Duke North Carolina Central University bridge office as part of the Duke School of Medicine Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

    3:18 – The symptoms and signs of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)

    6:34 – How inflammatory breast cancer differs from other, more common breast cancers

    9:36 – Risk factors for inflammatory breast cancer

    14:22 –Instead of a single tumor mass, IBC patients have small groups of tumor cells called emboli found in the breast, skin and lymph nodes around the breast tissue. What are emboli? How do they form?

    16:00 – Why do emboli form in this way?

    18:51 – What makes these emboli resistant to treatment and able to spread?

    21:43 – On her ACS-funded research, which focuses on the environment in which the IBC emboli form, in the breast. Why is the breast environment so important?

    28:35 – Adaptive stress response

    31:15 – “I’ll give you an example here and talk a little about our research findings that are clinically relevant.”

    38:25 – How do we target inflammatory breast cancer therapeutically?

    40:47 – The 3M approach: Models, Mechanisms, and Measures

    45:30 – If she could wave a magic anti-IBC wand, where would we be in 5 years?

    48:27 – The impact that ACS funding has had on this area of research

    49:54 – “Another very important distinction about ACS…”

    51:47 – How inflammatory breast cancer recently affected her family

    • 57 min
    Journal Club: Recent findings in cancer immunotherapy

    Journal Club: Recent findings in cancer immunotherapy

    The first few minutes of this conversation is for a lay audience, as Elham Azizi, PhD, and Charly Good, PhD, explained how they’re investigating what causes cancer to grow and spread and how to improve immunotherapy.

    Then the discussion moved toward a scientific audience, as Drs. Azizi and Good shared recent findings and asked probing questions about future directions and opportunities in cancer research.

    Elham Azizi, PhD, is a former American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow who is now an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. She joined the podcast to share findings from her recent publication, “Mapping the evolution of T cell states during response and resistance to adoptive cellular therapy” (https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(21)01471-6#secsectitle0020).

    Charly Good, PhD, is an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Shelley Berger, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania. She recently published research in Cell on “An NK-like CAR T cell transition in CAR T cell dysfunction” (https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)01331-3).


    1:25 – Dr. Azizi explains how her lab uses machine learning techniques and other cutting-edge technologies to understand what’s happening in the tumor microenvironment

    2:47 – Dr. Good describes the focus of her research—using the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer


    4:19 – Dr. Good describes takeaways from her recent publication on “An NK-like CAR T cell transition in CAR T cell dysfunction” (https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)01331-3)

    7:25 – Dr. Azizi reacts to the paper…

    8:51 – …and asks why some patients didn’t see an increase in NK receptor expression

    12:22 – Dr. Azizi shares findings from her paper, “Mapping the evolution of T cell states during response and resistance to adoptive cellular therapy” (https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(21)01471-6#secsectitle0020)

    17:40 – Dr. Good asks: “Was it at all surprising to you when you first realized that the exhausted population was specific to the responders pre-infusion?”

    22:10 – What’s next in machine learning?

    26:03 – On the impact of ACS funding on their research

    30:26– Why it’s an exciting time for cancer research

    • 33 min
    The rise of mental health distress during the COVID-19 pandemic

    The rise of mental health distress during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Corinne Leach, PhD, MPH, MS, who leads cancer survivorship research at the American Cancer Society, joined the podcast to discuss her recent publication on the rise of mental health distress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Using data from the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) cohort, Dr. Leach and collaborators “identified factors associated with increased depression and anxiety during the pandemic, including sociodemographic characteristics, stressors, and comorbid conditions associated with increased risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes.”* They also presented findings related to financial stressors and looked at long-term implications.

    For resources and information to help you cope during and after cancer treatment, please visit: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment.html

    Dr. Leach is Senior Principal Scientist of Behavioral Research in the Population Sciences group at the American Cancer Society. She serves as the Principal Investigator of the American Cancer Society (ACS) survivorship cohorts, including the Studies of Cancer Survivors and the Cancer Survivor Transition Study.

    3:13 –Pandemic-related stressors that have been associated with greater levels of anxiety and depression

    8:09 – Her recent study on how our mental and physical health prior to the pandemic factored into our ability to deal with the psychological stress of the pandemic

    10:57 – On long-term implications for mental health

    12:45 – A snapshot of what cancer survivorship looks like in the United States

    15:09 – On similarities between cancer survivors and participants her your study whose stressors were associated with anxiety and depression

    17:25 – On post-treatment programs for cancer survivors

    21:51 – Helpful ways to deal with significant life stressors

    * http://pressroom.cancer.org/StressorsPandemicPredictors

    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
23 Ratings

23 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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