5 Minutes With A/Prof Jennifer Wargo

5 Minutes With A/Prof Jennifer Wargo

11 August 2016

Associate Professor Jennifer Wargo is a melanoma surgical oncologist and translational scientist from Harvard and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research focus is to better understand response and resistance to molecularly targeted therapy and immunotherapy. She discusses the research she will be presenting as a keynote speaker at the 2016 Australasian Melanoma Conference.

You have an interesting title for your first presentation at the conference: "Understanding responses to therapy: the tissue is the issue, but the scoop is in the poop”. Can you tell us more about it?

The field of melanoma therapy has been revolutionized through the use of targeted therapy and immunotherapy, but responses are heterogeneous and are not always durable. We have gained key insights into therapeutic response and resistance through tissue-based analyses, and these will be discussed.

However there is emerging evidence regarding the role of the microbiome in responses to melanoma therapy, and it is quite feasible that we will employ modulation of the microbiome to enhance responses to therapy in the upcoming months and years. Aspects of the influence of the microbiome will be discussed herein, particularly as they relate to responses to cancer therapy.

You will also be presenting on the role of surgery in the age of improved systemic therapy.

That's right. We have made major advances in melanoma therapy, and the role of surgery in multidisciplinary melanoma treatment is clearly evolving. Surgeons play a critical role, both in therapeutic strategies as well as in facilitating and driving translational research to advance the field. Aspects of this will be discussed in my presentation, including an integrated approach with systemic therapy to enhance therapeutic responses. The role of surgeons in translational research will also be discussed.

Why is the Australasian Melanoma Conference so important?

This conference will provide critical insight into advances in melanoma – from melanoma biology to treatment.

I am looking forward to meeting with my global colleagues in melanoma therapy to understand recent advances and to work as a team to strategically plan next steps in advancing the field

Will you be doing any sight-seeing or travelling while you’re in Sydney?

I hope to do some sight-seeing but my time in Australia is limited so I need guidance on what would be best to visit!