2022 SKCC Pancreatic Cancer Symposium – Breakthroughs in Pancreatic Cancer

Last month Pancreatic Cancer Cure Foundation (PCCF) attended the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Pancreatic Cancer Symposium at Jefferson Health. The Symposium brings together patients, survivors, caregivers, benefactors, students, clinicians, and researchers. It was a day of celebration and recognition – an opportunity to acknowledge the courage, resilience, and strength of those living with pancreatic cancer.

2022 Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center - Jefferson Health Pancreatic Cancer Symposium

As a benefactor, we don’t typically get to see the people whose lives may be affected by our donations—the survivors. Likewise, we don’t often get to meet the talented researchers and clinicians (doctors, nurses, surgeons, social workers, etc.) who are dedicating their lives to bettering the lives of those with pancreatic cancer. While we do the majority of our fundraising from a distance, the realness of the mission can sometimes get lost on us. As we watched each survivor enter the event wearing their purple ribbon, we were reminded of how critical research funding is for pancreatic cancer.

We listened, holding back tears, to the survivor testimonial from Donna Adelsberg.


We met and spoke with fearless pancreatic cancer survivors, many of whom received care at Jefferson. We heard from brilliant clinicians and researchers about the significant studies and discoveries being made at Jefferson. We listened, holding back tears, to the survivor testimonial from Donna Adelsberg.

It put into perspective the impact made by the funding received from our supporters.

We are humbled. We thank YOU, our supporters, for entrusting PCCF with your donations so that institutions like Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Hospital can improve the future outlook of pancreatic cancer.

We left with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and inspiration for carrying on with our mission.

Below is a quick summary of some of the research we learned about through the contributor presentations.


“For us, philanthropy has been incredibly important. It links our donors and our researchers. It gives them sort of an opportunity to interact. The people that have been helpful to us can come in and actually see hands-on what’s going on and see how their dollars have been used, see what projects they’ve helped to invest in.”
Charles J. Yeo, MD, FACS, Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chair of Surgery


The SKCC Research Programs can be broken down into four categories

  • Cancer Risk & Control
  • Molecular Oncology Regulation & Approaches
  • Translational Cellular Oncology
  • Immune Cell Regulation & Targeting

Presentation Highlights

Jefferson Pancreas Tumor Registry (JPTR)


The Jefferson Pancreas Tumor Registry gives patients and family members the opportunity to provide data on familial and environmental aspects of pancreatic cancer on a voluntary basis. JPTR was established to further study the frequency of pancreatic cancer in families with a history of the disease and to identify environmental and occupational risk factors to which patients may have been exposed. Jefferson Health physicians are also using the results of genetic testing obtained through the Registry to determine the most effective targeted therapies. (Source: Jefferson Health Website)

Risk Factors Associated with Pancreas & Related Cancers

  • Advancing age (>60 – 65 years)
  • Cigarette smoking (25 – 35%)
    Second-hand tobacco smoke exposure (in childhood)
  • Inherited gene mutations and family history of pancreatic cancer (10%)
  • Diabetes (longstanding and new-onset diabetes)
    Chronic pancreatitis
  • High fat/cholesterol diet
    Obesity (BMI > 30)
    Nitrosamines in food (preservatives)
  • Occupational & environmental exposure to carcinogens (12%)
  • Heavy alcohol use (>60 gms/day or ~ 6 drinks per day)
  • Unknown causes of pancreatic cancer (30%)


  • Rare opportunity to glimpse real-life experience of pancreatic, other cancers, and pre-cancerous tumor survivors
  • Overall, survivors report good-to-excellent quality of life
  • Very active – 85 patients walking and 19 other activities
  • Uncovered long-term complications
  • Lingering symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, and gastrointestinal problems are common and may be under-appreciated as persistent problems.

Learn More or Join the Jefferson Pancreas Tumor Registry

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Theresa Yeo

Angiotensin Blockade in Pancreatic Cancer: A Population Study

Harish Lavu, MD, FACS

  • Small studies have shown that common blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors and ARBs) may improve outcomes in lung cancer and gastric cancer
  • One small, single-center study even suggested that ACEi and ARBs may improve survival in pancreatic cancer
  • Findings of the Population Study of Emilia-Romagna, Italy
    • In the Population Study, after looking at almost 4 million patients, we found about 8,000 who had pancreatic cancer.
    • The average age was 74
    • 19% of patients also had diabetes
    • 20% had undergone pancreatic cancer resection
    • 40% had undergone chemotherapy
    • 31.5% 0f patients were taking ACE inhibitors
    • 18% of patients were taking ARBs
    • Patients who were taking ARBs had a 20% improvement in their long-term survival
    • Patients who were taking ARBs and had undergone resection had a 28% improvement
    • Patients who were taking ACEi had a 13% improvement in their long-term survival, but only during the first 3 years after which the effect appeared to wear off
  • Take Away: Some kind of relationship, or association, between taking ARBs or ACEi and a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • Phase 2 Clinical Trial

View the Research Study

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Harish Lavu

Stress Granules Answer a Pancreatic Cancer Mystery

Elda Grabocka, PhD

  • Why is pancreatic cancer so aggressive and resistant to therapy?
    • The first step in designing therapies that work
  • Why is the incidence of pancreatic cancer increasing?
    • Currently, there are about half a million individuals in the world that have pancreatic cancer and this number is predicted to double by 2040.
    • Not the case for most other cancers.
  • Theory: Cellular stress is a driving factor behind pancreatic cancer
    This has to do with a very unique property of pancreatic cancer. A combination of genetic mutations, the nature of the pancreas, and the nature of the cells that make up the tumor, this is a very stressed cancer–cellular stress. The tumor stress increases as the cancer progresses.
    • Obesity increases the risk and mortality of pancreatic cancer by 2-fold
    • Correlation between the continual rise in obesity and the increased incidence of pancreatic cancer

View the Research Study

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Elda Grabocka

Therapeutic Landscape in Management of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) – Medical Oncology Perspective

Babar Bashir, MD, MS, FACP

For Resectable Tumors

  • Newer FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy treatment compared to older BEMCITABINE chemotherapy
    • Median overall survival rate 53.5 months vs. 35.5 months
    • 5-year overall survival rate 43.2% vs. 31.4%
  • Clinical Trial of Cancer Vaccine after chemotherapy
    • Teaches the immune system to identify and suppress specific tumor protein

Borderline Resectable or Locally Advanced (Stage 2)

  • The tumor is touching the vein or encasing the artery and vein altogether, usually Stage 2B or 2 Cancer
  • The goal is to get the patient to surgery which is the only curative option
  • Emerging Modalities in Locally Advanced Disease
    • Ultrasound contrast agents to enhance the delivery of chemotherapies
    • Chemotherapy has more of a chance to see the tumor and work against it

Metastatic PDAC Management (Stage 4)

  • Genetic testing to determine the best treatment options

View the Research Study

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Babar Bashir

JMP PaC: Molecular Profiling of Pancreatic Cancer at SKCC and Beyond

Jennifer Johnson, MD, PhD
Christopher McNair, PhD
Hien Dang, PhD

In 2022, Pancreatic Cancer Cure Foundation was honored to allocate funding of $26,000 to Friends Against Pancreatic Cancer whose primary philanthropic priority is JMP PaC (molecular profiling)


  • Jefferson Molecular Profiling of Pancreatic Cancer, (“Jump Pack”)
  • Molecular testing can be performed in multiple clinical settings with various goals in mind
    • assessing risk for a disease
    • screening for a disease
    • diagnosing a disease
    • describing prognosis
    • planning treatment
    • determining response to treatment
    • monitoring for disease return
  • Data collection
  • Molecular profiling helps choose the best treatment for a patient

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Jennifer Johnson

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Christopher McNair

Watch the Presentation from Dr. Hien Dang

On JMP PaC, “What we feel strongly about, is insurance coverage shouldn’t dictate the very best care and testing for patients, not to mention this work will inform research now and into the future. ”
– Kelly Austin, Assistant VP of Development, Medicine/Surgery


If you didn’t get a chance to attend or would like to watch the replay, hit play below or view it on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/776663786

We’re already looking forward to next year’s event! Here are photos from 2022: