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FALL 2019


Kerri Kaplan, President & CEO Dear Friend of the Lustgarten Foundation, I am especially pleased to share this issue of Progress & Promise with you because it is filled with stories that will touch your heart, renew your hope, and update you on the life-changing research that is taking place as we work toward a cure. We just released the third edition of Navigating Pancreatic Cancer: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers, the ultimate resource for anyone navigating through the complexities of this disease. Inside, you’ll read Lori Asserson’s truly inspiring story of surviving cancer three times. Today, Lori helps others on their cancer journeys—and she is quite a successful fundraiser for the Lustgarten Foundation, too. The future is here and now, as you will read in our scientific research article on page three. Drs. Sander and Barzilay are using artificial intelligence to illuminate pathways to detect pancreatic cancer before it spreads. I hope you know that your support enabled us to fund this important undertaking. And coming up in November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and World Pancreatic Cancer Day is on the 21st. Also taking place is our annual scientific meeting. You can learn more about how to be a part of all that is happening by visiting lustgarten.org. Without you, none of our many extraordinary accomplishments would have happened. So, as we approach the season of giving, I want you to know how much we value your support. We’re able to embark on a variety of truly innovative pancreatic cancer research initiatives because of you. I urge you to be generous once more. u With warm regards,

Kerri Kaplan President & CEO


Our New Book Offers Answers … and Hope The Lustgarten Foundation is proud to have developed and published Navigating Pancreatic Cancer: A Guide for Patients & Caregivers, the ultimate roadmap for plotting a course of action for anyone and everyone touched by this very complex disease. The guide is supported in part by an educational grant from Celgene and support from Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals. Part 1, “Navigating Pancreatic Cancer,” offers practical help for addressing immediate needs including a checklist for newly diagnosed patients, treatment options, clinical trial information, and resources on coping and support. Part 2, “Pancreatic Cancer Overview,” covers everything you need to know about the disease—its causes, signs and symptoms, and diagnosis. Visit lustgarten.org for a free, downloadable copy of Navigating Pancreatic Cancer: A Guide for Patients & Caregivers. Patients and caregivers can also request a free hard copy of this book via email at this address: contactus@lustgarten.org. Please provide your name, mailing address, and telephone number, and please include Book Request in the subject line. u

We hope this guide will empower patients and caregivers to ask bold questions, seek out cutting-edge treatments, and confront the unique challenges of pancreatic cancer head-on, armed with all of the knowledge needed to make informed decisions.



Beating the Odds … Three Times It’s hard to imagine anyone who understands what a diagnosis of cancer means better than Lori Asserson. She has heard the words—“You have cancer”—three times. Clearly, this brave woman is a survivor— someone who possesses incredible intuition and fierce determination. As a student, Lori had no way of knowing that her training as a pediatric oncology nurse would one day save her own life. Despite doctors insisting otherwise, Lori’s gut told her something was wrong. A biopsy revealed uterine cancer. At the time, Lori was in the prime of her life and busy raising her young twins with her husband. Then, nearly two years later, she was thrown another curve ball. This time Lori was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent treatment. Lori thought for sure she was in the clear. But 10 years later, the unthinkable happened. Routine scans showed that her

mild gastrointestinal symptoms were caused by Stage I pancreatic cancer. Early detection saved her life. Her surgeon performed a modified Whipple surgery and now, 15 years later, her scans continue to show no evidence of disease. Lori, who is now one of the top-selling BMW salespeople in the country, derives her strength from her family, friends, and colleagues. They consider her not just a survivor—to them, she’s a warrior, a relentless advocate, and a role model who never quits, no matter what obstacles she faces. “No one gets cancer three times and goes through what I did if it’s not for a reason,” said Lori. “My purpose is to do whatever I can to advance the research on early detection. I’m alive because of early detection, and that doesn’t happen often enough with pancreatic cancer.” Lori became involved with the Lustgarten Foundation six years ago because she was interested in supporting research being conducted to identify new therapies and methods for discovering the disease at an earlier, more treatable phase. The cause became even more personal when her daughter’s friend’s mom passed

“More needs to be done for pancreatic cancer because this disease doesn’t escape anyone. I encourage everyone to contribute now to the Lustgarten Foundation’s research efforts and not wait until the disease becomes personal.” — Lori Asserson, cancer survivor, advocate, and Lustgarten supporter

away from the disease; Lori doesn’t want other families to suffer a similar loss. She formed Team g-LORI-ous and raised $25,000 this year alone for pancreatic cancer research at the Foundation’s New York City Walk. “More needs to be done for pancreatic cancer because this disease doesn’t escape anyone,” Lori said. “I encourage everyone to contribute now to the Lustgarten Foundation’s research efforts and not wait until the disease becomes personal.” u

Monthly Donors Enable Groundbreaking Research If you want to put an end to pancreatic

Benefits include:

cancer, you are an ideal candidate to join

l An exclusive Lustgarten Foundation

the Lustgarten Foundation’s special giving circle—Partners in Progress. Monthly donations from Partners in Progress members help us fund a wide array of innovative scientific inquiries that were

But your greatest reward will be standing with us as we fund groundbreaking


advancements in our fight against this life-

l Subscription to a quarterly Partners in

threatening disease!

Progress e-newsletter.

For more information about becoming

l Access to a dedicated staff member to

a Partner in Progress, please contact

answer any questions.

Jerry Esposito at 516-737-1558 or jesposito@lustgarten.org. u

once unthinkable. Join and you’ll be helping on the frontlines of diagnostic- and cure-focused studies aimed at answering critical questions about pancreatic cancer that have eluded the scientific community for so long.



Shaping Scientific Exploration Through Artificial Intelligence The Lustgarten Foundation is investing in cutting-edge explorations that have the potential to create a paradigm shift in a critical understanding about pancreatic cancer: detection too often comes too late. Through the Pancreatic Cancer Collective (pancreaticcancercollective.org), a strategic partnership of the Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer, we’re funding two new grants focusing on artificial intelligence—scientific initiatives that may illuminate new pathways to diagnosis. One of these grants was awarded to Raul Rabadan, PhD, MSc, Columbia University, and Nuria Malats, MD, MPH, PhD, Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), and focuses on using computational approaches to identify high-risk pancreatic cancer populations. The other new grant supports research being conducted by world-renowned computational biologist Chris Sander, PhD, Director of the cBio Center in the Department of Data Sciences at DanaFarber Cancer Institute. Co-led by Regina Barzilay, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this study has the potential to dramatically change outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients. The goal here is to develop risk assessment models by using machine learning analysis of clinical records and images to identify high-risk individuals for pancreatic cancer in the general population. How will these models change outcomes? The answer is simple: By having concrete data on risk factors, individual patients and their doctors will be equipped to make informed decisions on enrolling in screening programs for disease prevention and early detection. The team of doctors and technicians led by Drs. Sander and Barzilay hopes to build on recent advances in machine learning technology and the availability of rich clinical records from large, diverse patient populations within three health systems: Henry Ford Health System, Partners HealthCare, and the Danish National Patient Registry.

“I am very excited to get this project underway,” said Dr. Sander. “Our team will combine expertise in machine learning and pancreatic cancer to devise new strategies for catching pancreatic cancer at its earliest stages, giving patients the best chance at fighting this devastating disease. Our scientific endeavor not only benefits from Dr. Barzilay’s vast expertise in artificial intelligence—we benefit from her experience as a cancer survivor.” “When I was 43, I went in for a routine mammogram, and all of a sudden I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was a big shock,” shared Dr. Barzilay. “My experience as a cancer patient totally changed my perspective. I want to use data to provide answers now.” Artificial intelligence could change the

“Our team will combine expertise in machine learning and pancreatic cancer to devise new strategies for catching pancreatic cancer at its earliest stages, giving patients the best chance at fighting this devastating disease.” — Dr. Chris Sander game for diseases like pancreatic cancer, which are currently diagnosed late, when they are largely uncurable. “With early detection, how many lives can be saved? That is the way that artificial intelligence can transform medicine,” stated Dr. Barzilay. “It will identify patterns far too subtle for humans to identify.” u

What will this Lustgarten Foundation-funded study mean for patients with pancreatic cancer? This investigation holds the promise that earlier detection of pancreatic tumors and improved numbers of accurate diagnoses are possible … so that lifesaving care can be initiated sooner.

Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team

LEADER: Chris Sander, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

CO-LEADER: Regina Barzilay, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Investigation: Computational Approaches To Identifying High-Risk Pancreatic Cancer Populations—Identifying Individuals at High Risk of Pancreatic Cancer through Machine Learning Analysis of Clinical Records and Images


Get Involved, Stay Involved, Make a Difference The Lustgarten Foundation invites you to picture yourself in the fight against pancreatic cancer by making a donation and then bringing your family, friends, and colleagues along. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and we’ve made it easier than ever to get involved. Whether you want to join an existing Lustgarten Foundation Walk in your local community, establish a walk in a new city, or even turn your photography hobby or your book club into a fundraiser—we have the tools and resources to help you be successful. From bake sales, music and art shows, and school fundraisers, to golf outings, marathons and galas, our Fundraise Your Way (lustgarten.org/fundraise-your-way) program enables you to raise money in whatever way best fits your interests and lifestyle. When you do, you’re joining our campaign to “Put the YOU in CURE.” Below we highlight just a few of our supporters who are “putting the you in cure” by organizing community events to raise funding for the world’s most pioneering pancreatic cancer research.

The Joe Lo Cicero Golf Tournament at the Chateau Elan Golf Club in Braselton, GA, raised $50,000 for pancreatic cancer research.

Check out our calendar of events at lustgarten.org/calendar for more information about our upcoming walks and community events. Also, show us how you “Put the YOU in CURE” by tagging the Foundation @lustgartenfdn on social media and using the hashtag #PutTheUinCURE. u The Tee’d Off at Cancer Golf Tournament took place on September 9th at the Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, NY. By chairing this event, the Wallack family has created an incredible tribute to the legacy of their close friend and our founder, Marc Lustgarten. The event raised nearly $180,000. The Alpha Zeta Omega Pharmaceutical Fraternity has raised more than $71,000 through multiple walks and other athletic events.

The 8th Annual Terry Rau Sr. BagACure.com Cornhole Tournament in special memory of Sharon Rau, was held on September 22nd at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church in St. Louis. The event raised nearly $2,700.

Legacy Gifts Propel Scientific Breakthroughs! Pictured here are (left to right): Richard Barakat, MD, Northwell Health Cancer Institute; Kerri Kaplan, Lustgarten Foundation; and Bruce Stillman, PhD, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Lustgarten Scientific Advisory Board Member

You are already helping us accomplish great things! And by making a provision for the Lustgarten Foundation in your will, you’ll help us bring about substantial gains in making pancreatic cancer a disease of the past. Consult with your financial advisor about establishing your personal legacy of hope. u

Join the conversation and follow us on social media! E D Q C 415 Crossways Park Drive • Suite D • Woodbury, NY 11797 • 866-789-1000 •

lustgarten.org 1019TAFN

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2019 Fall Newsletter  

2019 Fall Newsletter  

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