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2024 LACNETS Conference Speakers

Understanding NET Diagnosis: The Work-Up & What You Need to Know About Your NETs

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Chandrikha Chandrasekharan, MBBS
Medical Oncologist, University of Iowa

Dr. Chandrikha Chandrasekharan is a Clinical Associate Professor at University of Iowa. She did her initial medical training in India at Kilpauk Medical College. She moved to the USA to complete her internal medicine residency at University of Florida College of Medicine at Jacksonville. 

Dr. Chandrasekharan is board certified in Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine.  After completing medical oncology fellowship at LSU Shreveport, she pursued an additional year of advanced oncology training in gastrointestinal malignancies at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Chandrasekharan's clinical practice and research interests include all gastrointestinal malignancies with a focus on neuroendocrine tumors.

Understanding NET Scans

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Nadine Mallak, MD

Radiologist & Nuclear Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University 

Nadine Mallak, M.D. is a double boarded Associate Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at OHSU, in the divisions of Body Imaging, and Molecular Imaging & Therapy. She received her M.D. degree from Saint Joseph University Medical School in Beirut, Lebanon, followed by a Diagnostic Radiology residency at Hotel Dieu de France, Beirut. Subsequently, she finished fellowships in Neuroradiology and Abdominal Imaging, and a residency in Nuclear Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Dr. Mallak is the clinical director of the PET/MRI program at OHSU. The scope of her clinical practice encompasses all aspects of molecular imaging and therapy, in addition to abdominal and pelvic imaging with modalities including ultrasound, CT, and MRI. Her research interests focus on molecular and hybrid imaging, particularly for prostate cancer, neuroendocrine tumors and pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma. In addition to her research projects, she’s passionate about education. She was voted by the radiology residents "outstanding teacher of the year" for the year 2019-2020, and by the graduating senior residents “outstanding board reviewer” for the year 2021-2022

In her free time, she enjoys painting, mostly with acrylic and watercolors, reading, hiking, and exploring the gorgeous nature in the Pacific Northwest.

Understanding Surgery for Liver NETs

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Callisia Clarke, MD

Surgical Oncologist, Medical College of Wisconsin

Dr. Clarke is Chief of Surgical Oncology and Associate Professor of Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin with a focus on tumors of the upper gastrointestinal tract, sarcomas, melanomas and regional therapies for advanced malignancies. She specializes in hepato-pancreatic-biliary malignancies, primary and metastatic neuroendocrine tumors, melanoma and sarcoma. Her research efforts focus on personalized cancer care and targeted approaches in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Clarke also serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for Academic Surgery and is the Chair of the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS) Mentoring and Early Career Development Committee.

Understanding Carcinoid Crisis 

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Julie Hallet, MD, MSc., FRCSC

Surgical Oncologist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center

Dr. Hallet is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and a Surgical Oncologist with a clinical practice devoted to hepato-biliary, pancreatic and upper gastrointestinal malignancies at the Odette Cancer Centre - Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Her practice further focuses on neuroendocrine tumors as part of the Susan Leslie Multidisciplinary Clinic for Neuroendocrine Tumors, as well as minimally invasive therapies for cancer treatment. She completed general surgery residency and MSc in clinical epidemiology at Université Laval in Québec City, followed by a Surgical Oncology and hepato-pancreatico-biliary clinical fellowship at the University of Toronto, and additional training in advanced minimally invasive surgery at the Institut de recherche contre les cancers de l’appareil digestif (IRCAD) in Strasbourg, France.

Dr. Hallet holds leadership roles in National and International societies. Among those roles, she

serves as the Vice-Chair of the Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Disease Site Group of the Society of

Surgical Oncology, the Chair of the Early Career Group the International Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Association, and a member of the Guidelines Committee of the North American Neuroendocrine Tumors Society, as well as on the executive committees of the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology and the Canadian Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association. She is a founding member of the Society of Surgical Ergonomics for which she also chairs the Research and Applied Ergonomics Committee. She also is Associate Section Editor for the Annals of Surgical Oncology, and is part of the Editorial Board of HPB, the World Journal of Surgery, and the British Journal of Surgery.

 

Dr. Hallet’s research focuses on health services research to examine processes of care and outcomes in oncology, with a focus on patient-centred and patient-reported outcomes. To support her research, she has received over $10 millions in operating grants, including from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research. Dr. Hallet has over 200 peer-reviewed publications, including high-impact papers in JAMA Surgery, JAMA Oncology, the Journal of the NCCN, and Annals of Surgery.

Understanding Liver-Directed Therapy

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Michael Soulen, MD FSIR FCIRSE 

Interventional Radiologist, University of Pennsylvania

Michael C. Soulen, MD FSIR FCIRSE is the Professor of Radiology and Director of Interventional Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center and Director of Clinical Research in the Division of Interventional Radiology.

His major clinical and research focus for the past 30 years has been image-guided cancer therapy (interventional oncology), with a specific focus on embolotherapy and ablative therapy of solid tumors in the liver and kidney. Animal research includes swine, rabbit, and rat models for liver-directed therapies, investigating novel embolic agents, novel ablation devices, and ultrasound-mediated drug delivery using novel drug-loaded microbubble contrast agents. Clinic trials focus on embolotherapies for primary liver cancers, liver metastases from colorectal and neuroendocrine tumors, and renal cell carcinomas.

Current clinical investigations focus on synergy between locoregional and systemic therapies, including 1) pharmacologic modulation of the metabolic stress response under conditions of embolic ischemia; 2) IR therapies as immunostimulants combined with immune checkpoint inhibition, 3) radioembolization with radiosensitizing drugs; 4) serial biopsy for tumor cell culture, rapid drug screening, sequencing and testing in PDX mice, with the goal of personalized precision medicine; and 5) the first international randomized trial comparing embolotherapy techniques for neuroendocrine tumor liver metastases.

Dr. Soulen received Research Mentor awards from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Radiology and the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society and the Gold Medal from the Society of Interventional Radiology.

Understanding PRRT

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Eric Mittra, MD, PhD

Nuclear Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University 

Dr. Mittra received his medical and graduate training through the MSTP (joint MD/PhD) program at Stony Brook University in New York in 2005. His master’s degree was in Anatomical Sciences, and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering. He subsequently completed a Nuclear Medicine residency and fellowship at Stanford University. He was faculty in Radiology at Stanford for 8 years, until moving to OHSU in 2018.

Dr. Mittra is interested in all aspects of Nuclear Medicine imaging, therapy, and research. This includes adult and pediatric general nuclear medicine imaging with gamma camera and SPECT, PET imaging for oncology, cardiac, and neurologic applications, as well as bone densitometry (DXA imaging). Targeted Radioisotope Therapies (TRT) are of particular interest; including various applications in oncology and he is a nationally-recognized expert in this area. His research interests are primarily focused on the clinical translation of novel radioisotopes for imaging and therapy. He very involved with the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS), and is the current Medical Director of the Healing NET Foundation (HNF).

Understanding the Latest in Systemic Treatments & Considerations for Treatment Sequencing

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Thorvardur Halfdanarson, MD

Medical Oncologist, Mayo Clinic 

Thor R. Halfdanarson, M.D., is a medical oncologist and Professor of Oncology at Mayo Clinic who specializes in the management of patients with neuroendocrine neoplasms, gastrointestinal malignancies and unknown primary malignancies.  His specific research interests include the epidemiology, risk factors and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors and neuroendocrine carcinoma and improving outcomes for pancreatic adenocarcinoma and rare types of pancreatic tumors. He is a principal investigator and co-investigator for multiple industry-sponsored and cooperative group clinical trials.

Dr. Halfdanarson holds several leadership positions within Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is chair of the Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Cancer Disease Group and co-chair of the Pancreatic/Neuroendocrine Tumor Board. He is associate medical director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office in Rochester, Minnesota, co-chair of the Feasibility Committee, and a member of the Clinical Research Leadership Committee. He also represents Mayo Clinic on the Neuroendocrine Tumors Guidelines Panel of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Dr. Halfdanarson currently serves as President for the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS).

NET Tumor Board Panel: Understanding NET Liver Metastases

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Jaydira Del Rivero, MD 

Endocrinologist & Medical Oncologist, National Institute of Health

Dr. Del Rivero earned her medical degree from the University of Veracruz in Veracruz, Mexico and completed her internal medicine residency at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center/NYU-Langone Medical Center. 

Dr. Del Rivero completed a fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at The Inter-Institute Endocrinology Training Program (IETP) at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) where she was part of a research team developing clinical trials for pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. She then joined as Assistant Professor at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care (MECCC) where she specialized in endocrine oncology involving thyroid cancer, parathyroid and adrenal tumors, and clinical research for gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

She subsequently completed a second fellowship in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) with a research focus on endocrine malignancies.  Dr. Del Rivero is board certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Medical Oncology.

Dr. Del Rivero is a Physician Scientist in the Developmental Therapeutics Branch. She is the Principal Investigator of the Natural History Study for Neuroendocrine Neoplasm and Adrenocortical Cancer to provide the basis of further development of therapeutic interventions, prevention/screening guidelines, endpoints for future clinical trials, and patient reported outcome measures. Dr. Del Rivero’s current efforts is the development of novel treatment approaches and targeted therapies for endocrine malignancies such as advanced gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, adrenocortical cancer and pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma.

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Eric Mittra, MD, PhD

Nuclear Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University 

Dr. Mittra received his medical and graduate training through the MSTP (joint MD/PhD) program at Stony Brook University in New York in 2005. His master’s degree was in Anatomical Sciences, and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering. He subsequently completed a Nuclear Medicine residency and fellowship at Stanford University. He was faculty in Radiology at Stanford for 8 years, until moving to OHSU in 2018.

Dr. Mittra is interested in all aspects of Nuclear Medicine imaging, therapy, and research. This includes adult and pediatric general nuclear medicine imaging with gamma camera and SPECT, PET imaging for oncology, cardiac, and neurologic applications, as well as bone densitometry (DXA imaging). Targeted Radioisotope Therapies (TRT) are of particular interest; including various applications in oncology and he is a nationally-recognized expert in this area. His research interests are primarily focused on the clinical translation of novel radioisotopes for imaging and therapy. He very involved with the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS), and is the current Medical Director of the Healing NET Foundation (HNF).

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Osman Ahmed, MD

Interventional Radiologist, University of Chicago

Osman Ahmed, MD, is an expert vascular and interventional radiologist who diagnoses and treats a wide range of conditions. Using image-guided technology and small, sophisticated instruments, Dr. Ahmed performs minimally invasive procedures for acute and chronic deep vein thrombosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, peripheral vascular disease, liver/bone/lung/kidney cancer, spinal fractures, uterine fibroids and more. He also implants inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which prevent a blood clot from traveling around the body or creating a blockage.

In addition to his clinical expertise, Dr. Ahmed researches novel treatment options that improve outcomes for patients. His research on liver cancer, IVC filters and venous diseases has been published in several high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Radiology, Chest, Journal of American College of Radiology, and Journal of Surgical Oncology.

 

Dr. Ahmed also believes in the importance of educating medical students, residents, fellowships and peers in order to enhance health care across the world. He has been invited to speak at a number of symposiums, practicums and national/international meetings about the newest advancements in interventional radiology.

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Gangandeep Singh, MD

Surgical Oncologist, City of Hope 

Dr. Singh is an internationally recognized liver and pancreas surgeon. He is the Chief of Surgical Oncology program, Head of the Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery Program and the Director of the Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center (Phoenix).

Dr. Singh is a seasoned leader with more than 20 years of experience building and leading several surgical teams to world-wide recognition. Dr. Singh began his faculty academic career at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. From there, he was appointed as the Director of the Liver and Pancreas Center at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, Santa Monica, CA, where he also served as Chair of the Cancer Committee, and Vice President for Fellowship Education.  In 2010, City of Hope (Duarte) recruited Dr. Singh to spearhead the liver and pancreatic cancer program. He was appointed Professor of Clinical Surgery and as the new Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology (2011-2019) and hoisted their program to national recognition. He has an extensive referral base that reflects peer recognition of his clinical acumen and surgical expertise and is listed in “America’s Top Surgeons”, “Best Doctors of America”, “Super Doctors” and “Top Doctors of America.”

 

Prior to his tenure in the Unites States, he earned is his Medical Degree from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, India, and then trained at some of the finest cancer centers across the globe. These institutions include Tata Memorial Hospital and Cancer Center (Bombay, India), René Descartes University (Paris, France), and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital (Great Britain- England). In the USA, these institutes include the Marion Bessin Liver Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York), Maricopa Medical Center (Phoenix), and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (Iowa City). Dr. Singh is a board-certified surgeon, a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is a member of some of the top elite surgical societies and has served as invited speaker/chair at several national and international conferences. He was a panel member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) for Hepatobiliary Cancers for the last 10 years, that lays down the guidelines for the standard of care for these cancers; providing direction to both patients and physicians across the USA and the rest of the world.

 

Dr. Singh has a very thoughtful, effective, and yet forceful approach to beating cancer, in a systematic fashion working with an outstanding multi-disciplinary team. Dynamic and compassionate, he is a skilled and an accomplished surgeon. He has extensive experience in liver and pancreatic diseases and other gastrointestinal cancers. His work is very well published with numerous publications in prestigious journals. His publications encompass complex liver resections for liver metastases, management algorithms for neuroendocrine tumors, vascular reconstructions following difficult pancreatic surgery for pancreatic cancer, and advanced robotic surgery. His work in robotic surgery has been presented on the national podium at the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO), Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (AHPBA), Society of Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgeons (SLRS) and other national meetings.

 

An innovator at heart, Dr. Singh is in constant pursuit of enhancing the surgical experience and developing technical innovations in liver and pancreatic surgery. He has collaborative endeavors with engineers from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) & Harvey Mudd College. He has several invention disclosures and patents.

 

In addition to a large clinical practice, Dr. Singh is passionately advancing cutting-edge translational research. He collaborates with City of Hope’s molecular biologists, X-ray crystallographers, structural chemists, and super-resolution scientists. A leader who is passionate about empowering teams and individuals to achieve their full potential, Dr. Singh has been recognized with several awards and leadership positions.

Understanding NET Guidelines

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Jaydira Del Rivero, MD 

Endocronologist & Medical Oncologist, National Institute of Health

Dr. Del Rivero earned her medical degree from the University of Veracruz in Veracruz, Mexico and completed her internal medicine residency at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center/NYU-Langone Medical Center. 

Dr. Del Rivero completed a fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at The Inter-Institute Endocrinology Training Program (IETP) at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) where she was part of a research team developing clinical trials for pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. She then joined as Assistant Professor at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care (MECCC) where she specialized in endocrine oncology involving thyroid cancer, parathyroid and adrenal tumors, and clinical research for gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

She subsequently completed a second fellowship in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) with a research focus on endocrine malignancies.  Dr. Del Rivero is board certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Medical Oncology.

Dr. Del Rivero is a Physician Scientist in the Developmental Therapeutics Branch. She is the Principal Investigator of the Natural History Study for Neuroendocrine Neoplasm and Adrenocortical Cancer to provide the basis of further development of therapeutic interventions, prevention/screening guidelines, endpoints for future clinical trials, and patient reported outcome measures. Dr. Del Rivero’s current efforts is the development of novel treatment approaches and targeted therapies for endocrine malignancies such as advanced gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, adrenocortical cancer and pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma.

Understanding the Latest NET Clinical Trials 

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Pamela Kunz, MD

Medical Oncologist, Yale Medicine 

Dr. Pamela Kunz is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Oncology at Yale School of Medicine where she also serves as the Director of the Center for GI Cancers and Division Chief of GI Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. She received her medical degree from the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine. Her postgraduate training included a medical residency, chief residency, and oncology fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine. 

Dr. Kunz is an international leader in the treatment and clinical research of patients with GI malignancies and neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). She holds several key leadership positions in the field including President Emeritus of the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society, recent past Chair of the Neuroendocrine Tumor Taskforce of the NCI and standing member of FDA’s Oncology Drug Advisory Committee. She was recently appointed Editor-in-Chief of JCO Oncology Advances. In addition to her focus on NETs, she is a leading voice for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in medicine. She served as the Vice Chief of DEI for the Section of Medical Oncology at Yale School of Medicine and in 2021, she was awarded ‘Woman Oncologist of the Year’ by Women Leaders in Oncology for her work in promoting gender equity.

MODERATORS

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ANDREW HENDIFAR, MD 

Medical Oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

The current research focus of Andrew Hendifar, MD, is on developing new therapies for pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. Dr. Hendifar has helped form multidisciplinary teams that specialize in the treatments of pancreatic cancer, and carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors. Dr. Hendifar is the primary investigator for several groundbreaking therapies, including radioimmunotherapy for neuroendocrine tumors, anti-inflammatory therapy for pancreatic cancer and novel approaches to cancer cachexia. His national roles include SWOG GI Committee Member and a member of NIH Neuroendocrine Tumor Task Force. He also serves as the steering committee member for the Precision Promise Consortium and chairs the associated Supportive Care Committee. At Cedars-Sinai, he leads the Gastrointestinal Disease Research Group and is the founding Director of the Hematology and Oncology Fellowship Program.

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DANENG LI, MD

Medical Oncologist, City of Hope

Daneng Li, M.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, specializing in treating gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Li currently leads the liver tumors program and is also the co-director of the Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at City of Hope. Dr. Li embraces a multidisciplinary approach to treatment of patients with neuroendocrine tumors. He leads several clinical trials focused on improving outcomes for patients with NETs and works closely with scientists in the development of the next generation of novel therapeutics.

Nationally, he has served on several NET committees including the NANETS Research Committee, NANETS Continuing Medical Education Committee, and the Patient-Physician Communication Task Force for the Healing NET Foundation, allowing him to work closely to support NET patient advocacy programs. For all his efforts, he was honored as a recipient of the inaugural 40 Under 40 in Cancer Award during the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in 2018.

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MARY DONLEVY

LACNETS Board member and NET Patient Advocate

Mary Donlevy joined the LACNETS Board in 2020. She brings the patient perspective as she has been thriving despite living with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor since 2005. She has been close friends with LACNETS Founder Giovanna Joyce since 2010 and involved with LACNETS since then.  

Mary has served as a NET CONNECT mentor and Advisory Committee member. She has been actively involved in the monthly meetings and virtual NET support groups. 

Mary received her Bachelor's Degree in Communications from University of San Diego and has over 10 years of medical and sales training. Her passion is to help those dealing with this difficult diagnosis and still enjoy a very full and active life. She is the mother of four children, two of which are identical twins, born after her cancer diagnosis. Mary enjoys ocean swimming, yoga and traveling with her husband and children in her free time.

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Beth DeBlase

NET Patient

Beth was diagnosed in 2016 with metastatic, midgut NET. In that time, she has made aesthetic oncology and integrative therapies her passion. Her mission is to help enhance the quality of life for fellow cancer patients and caregivers, including herself, her four children, and husband.

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