Why I Attend: Ana M. Molina, MD

Why I Attend: Ana M. Molina, MD

Dr. Ana M. Molina
Ana M. Molina, MD, specializes in genitourinary medical oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital and is a long-time ASCO Annual Meeting attendee. In the following interview, Dr. Molina shares why she continues to attend the Meeting and her perspective about its future directions.

Q: Why is it important for medical oncologists to attend Annual Meeting?

Dr. Molina: Whether you are a medical oncologist in private practice or in academic medicine, attending the ASCO Annual Meeting is an excellent way to stay up to date with the latest advances in cancer research and practice-changing patient care.   

For example, the data from the LATITUDE study, first presented at the Plenary Session at the 2017 Meeting, of abiraterone acetate plus prednisone or placebo in newly diagnosed high-risk metastatic hormone-naive prostate cancer was practice-changing and has led to the use of abiraterone earlier on in the disease course.

Q: Apart from the science, what are some of the benefits of attending?

Dr. Molina: Attending the Annual Meeting provides the opportunity to meet with people of all disciplines whom you would normally not have a chance to meet. In addition, there are sessions provided by other ASCO committees such as the ASCO Professional Development Committee. Last year, I attended various discussions in the Women’s Networking Center that related to important issues that affect women in oncology such as leadership, promotion, and work-life balance. 

Q: What has changed about the ASCO Annual Meeting over the years you’ve attended?

Dr. Molina: There has been a shift globally toward cancer genomics and precision medicine, cancer immunotherapy, and biomarker discovery. These topics are at the forefront of the way we’re trying to develop new therapies and cures and are being addressed in both hematologic and oncologic malignancies.

Q: Have you made any connections at Annual Meeting that have lasted and/or improved your career?

Dr. Molina: I have certainly made connections that have positively impacted my career in academic medicine. I have maintained friendships and have reconnected with colleagues from training who have gone to other institutions or the pharmaceutical industry. These connections have led to collaborations on clinical trials and research projects.  In addition, the transfer of new ideas, wealth of knowledge, and advice gained has been invaluable.

Q: What do you think the Annual Meeting will be most focused on 10 years from now?

Dr. Molina: I believe it will expand the reach of precision medicine. The Meeting will continue to report cancer discoveries and treatment advances that will benefit millions of patients living with cancer today and in the future. I feel fortunate to work at an institution with a robust program in precision medicine, enabling me to incorporate this into my clinical research and practice. In 10 years, I feel this personalized, narrowly tailored approach to cancer care will impact a much wider group of patients. In addition, over the next decade, I am very optimistic that we will collectively answer the questions of how cancer develops and spreads and how best to treat each individual patient.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to actually attend the meeting in person as opposed to following the research virtually?

Dr. Molina: Although it is possible to follow research virtually through the Annual Meeting Videos & Slides, you do miss out on many of the benefits one gains by attending in person. The Meeting is a great opportunity to meet and network with oncologists and scientists nationally and internationally. These face-to-face interactions are important to establish multidisciplinary collaborations.

Q: What do you always make sure to pack when traveling to Chicago?

Dr. Molina: I always make sure to pack my running shoes when traveling to Chicago, although, I don’t always get to use them.