December 10, 2018

“I CAN Sideline Pancreatic Cancer” Symposium/Forum – Friday, Apr. 5th at 7PM

The Griffith Family Foundation “I CAN Sideline Pancreatic Cancer” Symposium/Forum: “We Are” Fighting for Our Future. Friday, April 5th, 2019 at 7PM at the Penn State Altoona Devorris Downtown Center.

Penn State University and The Griffith Family Foundation’s “I CAN Sideline Pancreatic Cancer” Youth Initiative are teaming up in the big game to sideline and cure Pancreatic Cancer.

On Friday, April 5th, 2019, six years to the day from our first symposium/forum, Jack Andraka (currently at Stanford University), will return to Penn State Altoona’s Devorris Downtown Center along with Penn State’s 2018 “Inventor of the Year” Dr. James Adair, and Dr. A. James Moser, co-director of both the Pancreas and Liver Institute and Pancreatic Cancer Research Programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

Based on the efforts we’ve seen between our first and fourth forum, we are very hopeful and excited about the future of Pancreatic Cancer research. We are also encouraged by the recurring support from Dr. Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Penn State Altoona’s chancellor and dean, who played a vital role in helping us conduct our first symposium/forum and is also lending her time and energy for our fourth symposium/forum.

A special “Thank You” goes to the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence for hosting Jack Andraka in 2013 and giving area students the opportunity to collaborate and inspire one another to create our Griffith Family Foundation Youth Initiative I CAN Sideline Cancer!

Our first Pancreatic Cancer Symposium/Forum was on April 5th, 2013. At that symposium, Penn State Altoona and the Griffith Family Foundation hosted the 2012 Intel Science and Engineer Fair winner Jack Andraka. Jack, who was only 16 years old at the time, used that platform to encourage students to be active participants in transforming the outcome of Pancreatic Cancer.

Jack would later become an official Sideline Cancer Ambassador, and he and fellow future Ambassador, Kiera Chirdon, were the joint inspiration behind the creation of our Griffith Family Foundation “I CAN Sideline Pancreatic Cancer” Youth Initiative. This program was and still is the only youth initiative in the world that engages students to use their entrepreneurial and philanthropic ideas to raise awareness and be advocates for transformational change along with the global pancreatic cancer community.

Another important contributor to the effort to raise awareness has been Lisa Georgiana, SFU Center for Service & Learning Director. She was instrumental in taking the steps to create the first official Sideline Cancer Chapter in 2016. Her work done on behalf of the Griffith Family Foundation and Sideline Cancer provides a superb example of Sideline Cancer’s rallying phrase: “Where Wisdom Meets Energy.”

On March 1, 2018, the Sideline Cancer community entered yet another important phase by becoming an official student club at Penn State University. University Park students Sierra Cobler and Caitlyn Edgell along with Griffith Family Foundation Liaison Marissa Lombardi conducted all the necessary research, submitted all the appropriate paperwork, and made all the essential connections that allowed us to reach this new benchmark. One significant step made during that process was the selection of Dr. James Adair as club advisor.

Dr. Adair is professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at University Park. He is also the 2018 recipient of the Invent Penn State “Inventor of the Year” for his outstanding work and collaboration in Cancer research and use of nanotechnology. The key principle at the core of his research is “Kill the cancer. Do no harm to the patient.”

Similar to the goals of the first Sideline Cancer Chapter established at Saint Francis University, the goal of this newly established PSU Sideline Cancer Club is to raise awareness for Pancreatic Cancer research by participating in our trademarked Sideline Cancer t-shirt campaign and by hosting collaborative Pancreatic Cancer Symposiums such as the one scheduled for Friday, April 5th, 2019.

Below is a list of the key participants in our upcoming Pancreatic Cancer Symposium/Forum, which will be held on Friday April 5, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Penn State Altoona Devorris Downtown Center:

Jack Andraka is an American inventor, scientist, and cancer researcher. He is known for his award-winning work on a potential method for possibly detecting the early stages of pancreatic and other cancers. Since 2015, he has attended Stanford University as an undergraduate.

Maureen Shul is the Founder and CEO of Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research in Castle Rock, Colorado. Maureen is a former mayor of Castle Pines and experienced losing her brother and mother to pancreatic cancer, within months of each other, which led her to establish the foundation.

Dr. A James Moser is Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School; Co-Director of the Pancreas and Liver Institute; and Co-Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program, Surgical Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Moser leads Project Survival, which aims to discover and validate a bio-marker to detect and cure Pancreatic Cancer.

Dr. Adair James Adair is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. He is considered an expert on nanomaterials, especially for drug delivery. He is also the Invent Penn State 2018 “Inventor of the Year,” and the Penn State Sideline Pancreatic Cancer Club advisor.

Dr. Michael Lotze is a Professor of Surgery, Immunology and Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Lotze is Vice Chair of the research Department of Surgery, Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships.

Dr. Randall Brand is a Professor of Medicine and a physician-scientist with an extensive background in pancreatic diseases mainly focused on the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and cystic lesions of the pancreas. He also has research interests involving familial pancreatic cancer and other hereditary GI disorders. He is the leader of the University of Pittsburgh’s Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Gene-Environment Registry (PAGER). The biospecimen repository developed as part of the PAGER study is nationally recognized and serves as an excellent resource for multiple NIH/NCI funded projects along with national and international collaborations with outside researchers. He is a key contributor to the Early Detection Research Network, especially in research related to pancreatic cancer and cystic neoplasms and is currently funded in the network as a principal investigator to lead both a multi-center Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Validation Center and Biomarker Developmental Laboratory.

Dr. Shyam Thakkar is Director of Developmental Endoscopy at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA and Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Saint Francis University Center for Rural Cancer Survivorship, within the School of Health Sciences and Education, is a comprehensive Interdisciplinary center developed to provide outpatient services to all cancer patients and survivors. The centers’ directors are Dr. Stephen Baker (Psychology), Dr. Stephen LoRusso (Exercise Physiology), and Dr. Ivan Mulligan (Physical Therapy), who guide the educational (Master of Science in Cancer Care), the clinical exercise oncology program, and survivorship research studies.

Dr. Brian Boone is an Assistant Professor of Surgical Oncology at West Virginia University. He is also a faculty member at the WVU Cancer Institute, the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. His clinical focus is on minimally invasive robotic pancreatic surgery and his research lab studies the role of neutrophil extracellular traps in pancreatic cancer and cancer associated hypercoagulability.

Dr. Ralph McKibbin is a Gastroenterology Specialist in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Dr. McKibbin has been a leading voice for the cancer community on a local and national level.

Dr. Matt Moyer is a full time Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center staff physician who conducts research on interventional endoscopy, gastrointestinal cancer and precancerous states.

Cindy Callahan, RN is the Market Access Director for Immunovia, Inc, located in Marlborough, MA. The parent company, Immunovia AB was founded in 2007 by researchers from the Department of Immunotechnology at Lund University and CREATE Health (the Center for Translational Cancer Research) in Lund, Sweden.

Immunovia’s unique technology platform – IMMray® – combines an antibody-based multiplex with cutting-edge bioinformatics to find the most clinically relevant changes that appear in the blood, and then synthesizes this knowledge into a “disease fingerprint” – also called a biomarker signature.

The IMMray PanCan-d test, Immunovia’s first diagnostic test, is a unique blood test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. Retrospective studies show that the test is able to detect stage I and stage II pancreatic cancer with an accuracy of 96%. The company is currently performing clinical validation studies for the commercialization of IMMray PanCan-d.

Improving outcomes in pancreatic cancer is a personal passion for Cindy after losing her mother to pancreatic cancer in December 2014. Since her death Cindy has dedicated her personal and professional time to fundraising for research and creating awareness for early detection.

Erin Willett, is a singer/songwriter and an Influencer of Hope for The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. She will conclude our symposium/forum by singing her hit song “Hope’s Alive” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Each participant will be given five minutes to discuss the impact that their research has had on the Pancreatic Cancer community. Students and community members will then be given the opportunity to ask questions to our panel regarding a marketable early detection test for Pancreatic Cancer, and what the Marshall Plan of Action is for Pancreatic Cancer and how is it being coordinated through research, government, and pharma.

With the amount of talent and energy that will be joining together at this Symposium, it’s easy to see how collaborative events like these are significant in the global campaign to find a cure for Pancreatic Cancer.

If you would like to contribute to help with the organizing and hosting of this Symposium, we are offering several sponsorship opportunities.

Sponsor Levels Available:

  • $2500 Signature Sponsorship
  • $1000 Gold
  • $500 Silver
  • $250 Bronze
  • $150 Copper

To become a sponsor or for more information about becoming a sponsor, please call (814) 937-1082, or send an email to

Event Details

Location: Penn State Altoona Devorris Downtown Center: 1431 12th Ave, Altoona, PA 16601.
Date: Friday, April 5th, 2019
Time: 7:00 PM
Cost: Student Admission is Free; General Admission for non-students is $30