This year’s Light The Night Executive Challenge ended with a bittersweet roundup of results. The winner, Stacey Weathers, former long-time executive director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) New Jersey chapter, was tragically killed this past October when a tree fell on her car during a storm. Even though she isn’t here to celebrate with her LLS colleagues and family, her worthy achievement will be recognized as her legacy lives on.
A Powerful Force
The Light The Night Executive Challenge is a national fundraising competition for corporate executives across the nation to personally raise funds for LLS. Executives take part in raising funds by collecting donations to help support LLS to find cures for blood cancers.
Challengers who individually raise $5,000 or more are included in the “Executive Challenge Class of 2015” and have an LLS research grant named in their honor.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recently brought together a world-renowned panel of thought leaders to discuss the latest advances and insights into blood cancer research and treatment, drug costs and patient access, and patient advocacy and policy.
“There’s never a good time to get cancer but this is a phenomenal time to be fighting it,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, president and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Benjamin Ebert is researching what genetic mutations cause myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a group of disorders in which the bone marrow fails to produce sufficient blood cells, and how that information can be used to determine prognosis and therapy. MDS frequently progresses to an acute leukemia. A Career Development Program scholar funded by LLS, Ebert is an associate physician in hematology, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; and leader of the Leukemia Program for the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
In the simplest of terms, which is your project about?
Our goal is to understand what mutations occur in MDS, how these mutations predict disease outcome, how these mutations cause MDS, and how these mutations might be targeted therapeutically. By looking at large numbers of patient samples, and identifying the mutations in each sample, we are able to see what mutations predict good or bad outcomes, response to therapy, or specific aspects of disease behavior. We then want to understand in the laboratory exactly how the mutations cause MDS to understand the disease better. Finally, we attempt to use this new biological understanding of the disease to develop improved therapies.