Ruesch Symposium to Explore Molecular Profiling in Cancer Care

Posted in GUMC Stories

The potential of precision medicine based on an individual’s molecular makeup is vast, but the road to bring this into common practice still has many obstacles.

To explore these issues, the Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers, part of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, will hold its fourth annual symposium on Dec. 6-7, 2013. 

Day 1: Molecular Profiling to Improve Patient Outcomes

On Friday, Dec. 6, the entire afternoon will be devoted to the topic of molecular profiling to improve gastrointestinal cancer treatment and patient outcomes.

John L. Marshall, MD, director of the Ruesch Center, explains: “This year’s symposium has a focus on molecular profiling—this is cutting-edge therapy that holds the promise of truly personalized medicine.”

The use of molecular profiling holds great potential to change the field of cancer medicine by offering clinicians the tools to diagnose cancers earlier and more precisely based on a patient’s genetic makeup, and to identify individualized treatment options.  Yet issues of value and cost are still unresolved, according to Marshall.

“The role of molecular profiling to improve cancer patient outcomes and the associated cost is still being evaluated; therefore, the symposium will bring together multi-disciplinary panels to debate these issues,” explains Marshall.

Friday’s sessions are geared towards an audience of clinicians, researchers, patients, caregivers, policymakers, advocacy groups and medical students.  However it is open to anyone from the public.   

For those with a particular interest in liver cancer, participants also have the option of attending “Specialized Sessions” on the current science of liver cancer and the optimization of multidisciplinary care.  These sessions will be held Friday morning prior to the start of the symposium.

Day 2: Genetic Privacy and Other Essential Information for Patients

Saturday, Dec. 7 is focused on themes of interest to patients and their caregivers.  Marshall hopes that attendees “learn more about the rapidly evolving field of molecular diagnostics and profiling and associated 

evidence for the integration of these methods into patient care.”


“We also hope the attendees of the patient symposium will learn more regarding techniques for coping with cancer and about various topics in regard to care and personal life for patients and caregivers alike.”

What to Expect

Friday, December 6

“Specialized Sessions”: From 8 am-12 pm, Ruth He, MD, of the Ruesch Center, will lead a special forum on hepatocellular cancer for those researchers and clinicians with a specific interest in the topic.  Continuing Medical Education credits will be available.

“Molecular Profiling in Cancer: Research or Practice?”:  From1 – 5 pm, a variety of experts will discuss the use of molecular profiling of tumors to better diagnose gastrointestinal cancers and identify individualized treatment options for patients.  A multidisciplinary panel will debate the many medical, legal, economic and ethical issues.

Saturday, December 7


From 10 am-2:30 pm, the annual patient-oriented symposium will include disease-specific gastrointestinal breakout sessions, developed in partnership with patient advocacy organizations, followed by a second series of breakout sessions on a range of topics that patients and caregivers can apply in managing their disease and treatment.

A keynote address, continuing the molecular profiling theme from Friday, will focus on what patients need to understand about sharing their genetic information.


The symposium is free of charge to all Georgetown and MedStar employees.

To learn more, visit

By David Blanco and Lauren Wolkoff, GUMC Communications

(Published October 02, 2013)