Dr. Jonathon Cohen, co-director of Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute’s lymphoma program, recently embarked, along with three dedicated colleagues, on an important medical research mission to Israel. Their timely focus was designed to build clinical and research collaborations between the hematology program at Winship Cancer Institute and three Israeli hematology teams.
The team’s plan also includes an ongoing relationship with annual meetings alternating between Israel and Atlanta to leverage the expertise of both sites to improve outcomes for patients with hematologic cancers. The Winship doctors are extremely hopeful that this meaningful trip to Israel will make a difference in the lives of blood cancer patients.
Cohen stated, “In regard to the importance of this program, Winship’s mission is to improve outcomes for patients with cancer. The technology and expertise developed in Israel, coupled with our shared expertise in blood cancers, will lead to innovations in cancer care in both sites and hopefully beyond. Israel’s contributions to medical science are well-known and have led to critical developments in the management of blood cancers. This is also a great opportunity to strengthen the scientific relationship between Israel and Atlanta.”
Regarding the mission, Dr. David Frank, director of the division of hematology, Winship Cancer Institute and Emory University School of Medicine, said, “Both the Winship Cancer Institute and the Davidoff Center share an international reputation for excellence in the treatment of blood cancers. In addition to providing the best care to patients every day, we are continually looking to develop new cutting-edge therapies for these diseases. This symposium is a wonderful opportunity for us to exchange knowledge and research ideas in this area. The ultimate goal will be to provide even more outstanding care for our patients with hematologic malignancies and to develop new research approaches that will benefit our patients now and in the future.”
The team of Winship colleagues who accompanied Cohen include Dr. Jonathan Kaufman, David Bankes Glass professor of multiple myeloma. Dr. William Blum, director of leukemia program, and Dr. Jean Koff, director of cellular therapy clinical trials. These leading experts in related hematology fields are devoted to advancing the complicated understanding of blood cancers and how they can be better understood and treated.
This first meeting was designed to allow the teams to meet each other, identify areas of common ground, and hopefully identify research projects that can be initiated and strategically worked together on. The Winship physicians met with two hematology teams in Tel Aviv and also spent a day in Afula, located near the Yokneam-Megiddo region, Atlanta’s partnership region. They are inviting the participants they met with in this meeting back to Atlanta next year and may potentially have a larger contingent visit Israel in 2025. Eventually, their goal is to develop a program where trainees can spend time at each site and where they can potentially expand this collaboration beyond hematology, which is critical to the advancement of better understanding the future of cancer.
Cohen supports the relevance of this mission; and what makes it important to Winship is the groundbreaking technology developed in Israel that has significantly impacted lives and improved outcomes for patients. He added, “A particular, ground-breaking example is the recently developed immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, that were initially developed in Israel. This research has now revolutionized the treatment of lymphomas and other blood disorders. Israel also has a robust clinical database which will allow us to collaborate with them to answer key questions regarding management and outcomes of patients with blood cancers.”
Regarding what’s related to being Jewish in terms of cancer, according to Cohen, “While not necessarily connected to this specific project, I think with Atlanta’s growing Jewish population and the re-establishment of a direct flight between Atlanta and Tel Aviv, this is a fantastic opportunity to increase Atlanta’s profile as a global leader and collaborator for work being done in Israel. Additionally, these relationships will foster future work in other cancers where there is a Jewish predisposition.”
Cohen also shared, “My personal connection with Israel has also been strengthened this year when my family had the opportunity to host a participant in the Schoenbaum Shinshinim program in the fall. In discussions with our guest and in getting to know her family, I learned more about the potential opportunities that an Israel collaboration would bring to Emory and to Atlanta.”
To Winship and this mission’s credit, it’s clear that sharing research like this could impact the future of cancer and blood disorders. This meaningful alliance of experts is confident that collaboration is the key to ongoing innovation in the management of blood cancers and all cancers.
Cohen praises Israeli researchers, who he agrees, “are at the forefront of technological advances, and their researchers will be able to provide clinical expertise that will complement their work discovering important advancements in the treatment of cancer.”