PER Acquires, Expands Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium

The Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium, one of the largest oncology/hematology-focused conferences in the United States, was acquired last week by Physicians' Education Resource (PER) Events, LLC.

Phil Talamo

The Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium, one of the largest oncology/hematology-focused conferences in the United States, was acquired last week by Physicians’ Education Resource (PER) Events, LLC, an affiliate of the accredited medical education provider PER.

The late Ezra Greenspan, MD, a pioneer and trailblazer in medical oncology, founded the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium in 1972. The conference, which is attended by nearly 2000 healthcare professionals, will continue to be co-chaired by Edward Ambinder, MD, and Franco Muggia, MD. Prior to the acquisitions, PER’s largest event was the Miami Breast Cancer Conference, which is attended by over 1000 medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists.

For insight into how this acquisition could impact the agenda and focus of the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium and other PER conferences, OncLive interviewed Phil Talamo, PER’s vice president of Independent Medical Education & Operations.

OncLive: What will be the focus of the 2015 Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium?

Talamo: This year’s symposium, to be held November 4 to 6 in New York City, will retain its educational focus on new developments in cancer therapeutics and state-of-the-art care. In fact, the full name itself is Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium: Innovative Cancer Therapy for Tomorrow.

This year’s meeting will continue to provide oncology professionals with the opportunity to learn about new compounds, novel approaches to diagnosis and treatment with currently available agents, ongoing clinical trials, and emerging developments that define current progress aimed at the goal of control and cure of cancer.

What are some of the anticipated hot topics at this year's meeting?

When chemotherapy was invented in the 1940s and 1950s, this was the pinnacle of innovative therapy. The first chemotherapy was actually derived from mustard gas. And it was a game-changer for patients with cancer. It is with this spirit of “innovative cancer therapy for tomorrow” that is the cornerstone of the annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium.

These days there are so many therapeutic options available, and many more in late-stage clinical trials. Some of them are unbelievably innovative, like immunotherapies, which actually stimulate the patients’ immune system to fight cancer. This type of “innovative cancer therapy for tomorrow” is what we will discuss at this year’s chemotherapy foundation symposium, and of course how we can best use these innovations to provide patients with state-of-the-art care.

More specifically, this year we will see expanded information on novel immuno-oncology strategies for the treatment of solid tumors and a look at the “next generation” of anti-cancer agents that address resistance mechanisms. There will be a number of sessions focused on state-of-the-art care for hematologic malignancies. The conference will provide updates on almost every type of cancer, including ovarian cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, colorectal cancer, and more.

Outside of specific cancer types, there will be sessions on predictive and prognostic markers, the potential of next-generation sequencing in the clinic, oncology informatics, EHRs [electronic health records], shared decision-making, patient access to trials, epigenetic mutations, and much more. The goal is to provide a comprehensive agenda that expands nearly all corners of ‘modern’ oncology.

What major changes or additions were made to the agenda with the acquisition?

We will retain the original format of the agenda—concise rapid-fire trial updates and interpretation that oncologists and hematologists can use in their practice immediately. This will include the treatment and management of disease across virtually every tumor type and subtype.

There will be some shifts in the agenda that reflect the “state of new data,” meaning that areas of vast data will be given more time than in previous years. This holds true to examples such as lung cancer, where we might see a historic ASCO with all the new lung data emerging. And then in multi-tumor components like immunotherapies, which will be a theme throughout the agenda as they are being studied in many different solid and liquid tumors.

What type of things do you plan to keep and continue?

We will certainly keep the spirit of the meeting and how it addresses the latest emerging developments in a comprehensive multi-tumor format. There really has never been a more exciting or more challenging time to practice oncology than there is today. We know that cancer is no longer one disease, but numerous different diseases each that can be identified with various molecular markers and other predictive and prognostic indicators. The diverse content at this year’s chemo foundation meeting will speak about the best way to personalize care for all of these different areas by using the latest information on novel and emerging therapies.

We also know these days in oncology there is unprecedented excitement regarding the use and potential use of novel targeted therapies and immuno-oncology agents. We will touch on all of this game-changing data across all tumors, and that is what makes this meeting so unique and exciting.

How do you plan to incorporate any late-breaking news out of the ASCO or ESMO annual meetings?

As we develop the agenda, the focus will be to include the most impactful data that will impact clinician practice. We are going to work with the chairs and steering committee to ensure that we cover and address all of the latest-breaking data from ASCO and ESMO, just like we do with all of our PER legacy national meetings.

This has now become the biggest PER meeting; will this impact other PER conferences, like the Miami Breast Cancer Conference?

This meeting will positively impact all of our PER meetings, including Miami Breast. The Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium: Innovative Cancer Therapy for Tomorrow meeting is one of the largest gatherings of oncologists for CME in the country, spread over virtually every tumor type.

As loyal attendees join us for this meeting and experience what it is like to attend a first-class PER CME conference, it will literally wet their appetite to make them also want to attend the more extensive and intensive tumor-focused meetings that we offer throughout the year, including Miami Breast and our other conferences. I see positive growth for all of our meetings, and this acquisition positively aligns with our educational strategy to be the “go-to” source of oncology continuing medical education.

What will happen with the New York Lung Cancer Symposium, which PER generally conducts the day after the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium?

As with all of our PER meetings, I see the Annual New York Lung Cancer Symposium to continue to grow due to the acquisition of the Chemo Foundation Symposium. The NY Lung meeting is unique in that it has always been specifically scheduled at the conclusion of the Chemo Foundation meeting to draw cross-attendance. It is a good example of how a physician can learn at a super high level about the most pressing emerging data at the Chemo Foundation Meeting in the multi-tumor setting, and then stay an extra day to attend NY Lung to learn the about in-depth interpretation and practical application of the content through engaging expert discussion and sample cases.

Now that both meetings of these are PER meetings, we see deeper efficiencies for increased attendance, more local cases, and further in-depth discussion for both the Chemo Foundation Symposium and Annual New York Lung Cancer Symposium. It will truly be an exciting time for cancer education.