The Future of Breast Cancer Research

Mitchell Gaynor: Well I think that both are very worthwhile goals, so it has been amazing what’s been done for cancer treatment over the last 20 years, truly amazing and not just for breast cancer, all cancers. Dr. Dennis Slayman the Head of Oncology at UCLA Medical Center, made truly one of the biggest discoveries in the history of cancer research when he developed the HER2/neu and protein and subsequently developed a therapy based upon treatment directed against HER2/neu called Herceptin, it’s revolutionized breast cancer treatment. There are a lot of women, even in my own practice who have been getting Herceptin with stage IV disease for a number of years and doing quite well. It has increased in newly diagnosed patients who are HER2 positive markedly increased third disease free survival. So, you know, and that’s not chemotherapy, so that’s what is more in the targeted therapy realm. There are a number of other targeted therapies on the horizon, so new drug research, vaccine research, really looking at the human genome, looking at what we call single nuclear type polymorphisms or SMPs, you know, just little tiny nuclear tide change in one gene can inactivate the gene. So BRCA1 and 2 those are tumor suppressor genes, one little abnormality in those, they don’t work so much and so you increase the risk of breast cancer and we’re looking at a lot of these now. So we know people with lower levels of detoxifying enzymes don’t detoxify a lot of these carcinogens as well and looking at insulin like growth factor. There are a lot of therapies that are being looked at in relation to insulin like growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, Avastin has been used, that targets angiogenesis again, a targeted therapy that’s not chemotherapy and there are a number of combinations of these type of compounds that are being used for a variety of different cancers and a variety of different stages. So clearly research money needs to be put into this because we’re living in a country that where one in three people develop cancer, we need better treatments and we need that to continue to evolve. On the other hand we also need to focus on something different than just the war on cancer, the war on cancer was first coined by President Nixon in the 1970s, so we need a major push to find a cure for cancer and since then a lot of great therapies that I’ve just mentioned and many more have come out of that war on cancer, so that’s important. But we also need a war on carcinogenesis, carcinogenesis refers to the causes of cancer. All the environmental toxins that are out there that are not just out there, they’re in our bodies okay. So we have polluted a lot of the planet and we’ve polluted our bodies and clearly I think that the fact that childhood brain tumors have increased dramatically since 1970, you know, some cancer incidence has actually gone down but many have gone up and childhood leukemia has gone up and I do believe that it’s really no coincidence that we’re seeing, you know, an epidemic of learning disabilities, an epidemic of, you know, development disabilities. We’re seeing the incidents of autism increase dramatically over the last 30 years and I don’t believe that any of these are occurring in a vacuum. So I believe there’s a link between a lot of the illnesses that we’re seeing and the environmental toxins that are ending up in our bodies, they’re not just out in the environment. So there’s no difference between the external environment and our internal environment. So we need a war on carcinogenesis as well as a war on cancer, a war on the causes of cancer as well as treating it once it’s already occurred and I believe that’s a war that really can help prevent cancer. I believe that by minimizing people’s exposures to a lot of carcinogens we can affect cancer incidence and I believe that through a lot of the nutritional modalities that I’ve just discussed, we can also improve not only cancer survival but lower incidence.


Gaynor discusses the tools for treatment.

  • Beethovan and Picasso are the perfect examples for mastering the creative process.
  • Behind each of their works are countless studies and sketches.
  • The lesson? Never erase anything, keep iterating, and find new paths to familiar destinations.

After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

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Lumina Foundation and Big Think have partnered to bring this entrepreneurial competition to life, and we hope you'll participate! We have narrowed down the competition to four finalists and will be announcing an audience's choice award and a judges' choice award in May.

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Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod

Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.

Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome

PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.

Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young

Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.

Finalist: Practera - Nikki James

Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.

Thank you to our judges!

Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.

Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.

Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.

Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.

Again, thank you to our incredible expert judges.