The Southern California Research Forum: Advancing GU Cancer Care - Monty Pal & Rana McKay

February 21, 2024

Rana McKay and Sumanta (Monty) Pal join Zach Klaassen in discussing the Southern California Genitourinary (GU) Cancer Research Forum, a program aimed at uniting healthcare professionals in Southern California to coordinate research and patient care in GU cancers. The program highlights include discussions on kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer, integrating patient advocates and showcasing ongoing trials in the region. The target audience includes local and community-based colleagues interested in GU cancers, aiming to provide a platform for meaningful clinical trial referrals. The program will be held on March 1st in Newport Beach, California, with registration information available through City of Hope's CME program. The organizers envision the program growing in the future to become a showcase event for clinical trials, community think tanks, and investigator-initiated research in GU cancers.


Sumanta Kumar Pal, MD, FASCO, Medical Oncologist, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA

Rana McKay, MD, Medical Oncologist, Associate Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine, San Deigo, CA

Zachary Klaassen, MD, MSc, Urologic Oncologist, Assistant Professor Surgery/Urology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Well Star MCG, Georgia Cancer Center, Augusta, GA

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Read the UroToday Conference Coverage from the Meeting: Inaugural Southern California Genitourinary Cancer Research Forum 2024

Read the Full Video Transcript

Zach Klaassen: Hi, I'm Dr. Zach Klaassen, the urologic oncologist at the Georgia Cancer Center in Augusta, Georgia. And I'm pleased to be joined today for this UroToday discussion with two great friends of the website, Dr. Monty Pal from the City of Hope Cancer Center, a clinical professor, medical oncologist. As well as Dr. Rana McKay, medical oncologist and associate professor from UCSD. Thank you both for joining us today.

Sumanta Kumar Pal: Thank you.

Rana McKay: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having us.

Zach Klaassen: So we're talking today about an exciting program coming up very quickly. It's called the Southern California GU Cancer Research Forum. So Monty, why don't you tell us what the genesis was, how this came to be about to get this program started?

Sumanta Kumar Pal: Yeah, Zach. So just a bit on my background, I am LA born and raised. I've never left. I went to college, med school, residency, fellowship here, and I've been on faculty now at City of Hope. Gosh, for 15 years. And over that span of time, everybody in SoCal... Rana over at UC San Diego, Sia Daneshmand at USC, Brian Shuch UCLA. These guys all become my best friends and we actually do occasionally refer patients back and forth. But I don't really have a lens into what precisely is happening in their research programs. So this is really born out of an effort to bring us all together. I really think that LA should be, and the greater Southern California area should be a destination for cancer care.

Zach Klaassen: Yep. And I think too, when we were talking a little bit offline, there's such a dense population in Southern California and just powerhouse institutions. It's easy to fly kind of ship sailing in the night and really be able to coordinate what everybody's doing. If Sia's got a trial that we should be sending patients too, et cetera. Then that's the model for how these big dense urban areas should be working together, right?

Sumanta Kumar Pal: I couldn't agree with you more. The key is that we're, in medical oncology, just as goes the trials that we have in our portfolio. And if Rana has a trial that better serves a patient that I'm seeing in clinic, I'd love to refer the patient down to her for that treatment.

Zach Klaassen: Yep. Rana, tell us about some of the highlights of the program. What can we look forward to? How's it going to look?

Rana McKay: This is going to be just a fantastic lineup. I think what's really unique about this program is that it integrates our patient advocates. One, it sets the stage for why we even do trials to begin with. What's the need? And so we're actually having several advocacy organizations come and really level set at the beginning of the meeting. KidneyCAN, CureIt, PCF and others. So really excited about that 'cause I think our goal with this program and really, with being able to showcase the clinical trials that are available for patients and also the IITs that are available for patients, is ultimately we want to provide the patients of tomorrow, today, for our patients here in Southern California. We want to be an international hub across the world for people to come and receive future treatments, future diagnostics, future assays imaging. And that's really the goal to help showcase that push the field forward.

So the program is really focused around that. We're going to go through highlights in kidney cancer, highlights in bladder cancer. The field has completely been revolutionized of how to treat bladder cancer. A lot of the trials that directed what to do, second line, third line are really irrelevant now. There's a huge need actually to understand new therapies in the context of the changing frontline landscape. So we're going to go through that. Also, focusing not just on advanced disease, but non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, muscle invasive bladder cancer. And then prostate cancer really across the spectrum from localized, salvage, mHSPC, mCRPC. So the way the meeting is structured is that there'll be kind of a level setting talk about key updates in that field. And then there'll be a case-based discussion, integrating trials to highlight and showcase the trials that are available in the area. So we're super excited. And the other highlight of the day is actually during the lunch breakout session, we're going to be having a networking session and mentoring session for trainees and really want to integrate our residents, fellows and other students into the program as well.

Zach Klaassen: That's great. It's a great summary. I think it's cool 'cause we go to ASCO, we go to AUA, EAU, et cetera. We get eye level state-of-the-art talks, but this is going to be a table setting talk and then followed by what the trials are incorporating into those disease spaces from the institutions in SoCal. Correct?

Rana McKay: Absolutely. I mean, that's going to be the beauty about this program is that it's going to integrate the trials that are currently accruing patients here in our area.

Zach Klaassen: Awesome. So Monty, tell us what the target audience of the program should be. Sounds like there'll be some trainees as well focusing on SoCal, hoping to broaden it out a little bit. What's your guys' plan for target audience?

Sumanta Kumar Pal: Certainly, we're going to have, I think, all of the preeminent urologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists who are GU leaning in the LA area there. But I think beyond that, we were also hoping to engage a lot of our community-based colleagues who are interested in GU cancers and who frequently refer to us for clinical trials. I think that this is going to be a great opportunity for them to say, "Hey, maybe for this particular patient I should be reaching out to Rana. But for another, reaching out to Monty." I think it gives them a really granular sense of how to direct their referrals in a very meaningful way for clinical trials.

Zach Klaassen: That's great. Rana, when is the program happening and where is it going to be held?

Rana McKay: Absolutely. So the program is happening on March 1st, it's going to be held in Newport Beach. Super excited about that. The program is actually free for all those that register. There'll be breakfast, there'll be lunch, and so it's really going to be an exciting event. Monty can highlight our... The exact hotel is at Costa Mesa, right? I think. Monty, you let us know.

Sumanta Kumar Pal: That's right. It's at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel, which is for those of you who haven't been to that area, right across the street from Fashion Island, which is one of the best shopping districts in Southern California.

Rana McKay: The best-looking GU, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, neurologist at the US has to offer. There you go.

Sumanta Kumar Pal: There you go. There you go.

Zach Klaassen: I want to close with one more question, but before we do that, where can we find information for how to register hotel information? What's the easiest way to find it?

Sumanta Kumar Pal: I think the easiest way is just to Google City of Hope, which is the sponsoring organization, CME. And if you do that, this particular event pops up right away. And certainly, Zach, I'll be sending you links and so forth that we'd love to have our followers here on UroToday check out.

Zach Klaassen: Outstanding. So to kind of wrap things up, this is obviously going to come up in the next couple of weeks, exciting program. How do you guys see this in three to five years? Is it something we can, somebody in say the Tri-state area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, could kind of replicate lots of big-time institutions in one dense area, perhaps the Houston area, Chicago, et cetera? How do you guys see this over the next three to five years? I'll let Rana go first and then have Monty answer.

Rana McKay: Absolutely. Our vision is that this grows and becomes a showcase event, not just for showcasing clinical trials that are currently active to enhance accrual, but maybe even integrating community think tanks where we can learn for our patients about strategies to enhance diversity in clinical trials. Maybe it could also be a platform to discuss investigator-initiated research and gaps in the portfolio. I could absolutely see this program kind of really blossoming over the next several years. I think we've got a very enthusiastic GU community in Southern California, and it's been fantastic working with Monty as he's spearheaded this. And really, it's just been amazing to get the group together.

Zach Klaassen: Monty, final comments?

Sumanta Kumar Pal: Yeah. No, I think Rana said it all, frankly. I'm just super excited to get everyone together under one roof and really, bring this close network of friends together in a very meaningful way.

Zach Klaassen: That's great. So again, this is the Southern California GU Cancer Research Forum, City of Hope, CME top of the search engine happening March 1st in Newport Beach, California. So thank you both for joining us and for spearheading this. We're excited for the program and to provide some coverage on UroToday simultaneously with the program too. So thank you both.

Rana McKay: Thank you.

Sumanta Kumar Pal: Thanks a lot.

Zach Klaassen: Thanks.