On November 16-17, 120 attendees gathered in Monrovia, CA to attend the 12th Annual Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP) Meeting: Translating Research into Action to Reduce Breast Cancer. The meeting was hosted by the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope in the neighboring town of Duarte.
The BCERP Consortium, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute, seeks to support integrated scientific research to enhance our understanding of environmental and genetic factors underlying breast cancer risk throughout the lifespan, with particular focus on the influence of environmental exposures during certain windows of susceptibility. This meeting sought to explore the translation of this work into actionable items to reduce breast cancer by bringing scientists, community partners, breast cancer advocates, and community members. Each session included a series of presentations and was followed by thoughtful and inquisitive interactions between the speakers, community advocates, and scientists.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, gave informative insight into the history of the BCERP and how the program and its goals have progressed over time. The first session opened with the introduction of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause as windows of susceptibility for environmental exposures. The following session touched on the translation aspect of research and the role of the community involvement in research and an example of public policy relating the importance of communication of breast density information to patients.
During the lunch break, attendees were invited to attend a professional development session held by esteemed community advocates involved in breast cancer research. The session explored the how to build relationships with community partners and integrate them into your research. The day concluded with a session on endocrine disruptors (EDCs) that can mimic or interfere with hormone function in the body. These EDCs included chemicals used in flame retardants personal care products, and heat-resistant coating, and that mimic estrogen.
Poster presentations followed the session and included works in progress related to the mechanisms of breast cancer development, chemical environment in breast cancer, community outreach and dissemination, community science, windows of susceptibility, and breast density. Invited contributors presented their posters and initiated insightful conversation with meeting attendees. The events concluded with a community forum held on the City of Hope campus in Duarte, CA. A panel, led by Dr. Birnbaum, encouraged the community to come forward and engage in discussion with their questions and concerns about breast cancer and the environment. More about the forum can be found here: https://factor.niehs.nih.gov/2017/12/feature/feature-2-breast-cancer/index.htm
The next morning began with a session about the structure of the breast and breast density and their relationship with breast cancer. The morning continued with prevention and lifestyle risk factors on the factors that cause breast cancer, adipose inflammation, and risk assessment tools. The meeting concluded with invited authors of abstracts selected for oral presentations and explored topics in epigenetics, exposure effects on mammary gland and breast cancer development, and resources to report back results on environmental health to study participants.
We received a great amount of positive feedback from the meeting and comments included:
“This was the best annual meeting I have attended. Excellent program, excellent speakers.”
“Great mix of speakers and great mix of education and updates.”
“It was just fabulous to meet so many scientists dedicated to understanding breast cancer for prevention purposes and to translation of basic research. The cooperative, non-competitive atmosphere was truly remarkable.”
Save the date for the 2018 meeting: The 13th Annual BCERP Meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. on November 8-9, 2018.
An overall summary of the meeting and presentations can be found here: https://bcerp.org/annual-meeting/