Your quarterly update from the MCGI team
January — March 2020

Betty Walls — a happy cancer warrior 

Most of the patients in the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) maintain their anonymity. However, Betty Walls wanted to share her journey in order to show others the benefit of genomic tumor testing. Seventy-eight-year-old Betty has been a resident of Bar Harbor her whole life. She raised two children on Mount Desert Island with her husband, Hillard. During that time, Betty witnessed the impact of The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) on her community and when an appointment to examine a persistent wheezing turned into a positive diagnosis for lung cancer, she was receptive to receiving genomic testing through MCGI.

Betty learned about MCGI through her oncologist, Dr. Phillip Brooks of Mount Desert Island Hospital, an avid supporter of MCGI. Through the program, Brooks and other clinicians have access to advanced cancer diagnostic tools and additional support through Genomic Tumor Boards — specialized teams of oncologists, researchers and clinicians — to review patients’ test results and design personalized treatment plans. In Betty’s case, two mutations were identified using genomic testing. Her current treatment is working well at this time and has led to shrinkage in all of her tumors, five of which are no longer visible in scans. The mutations that were identified have the possible chance of offering targeted treatment that isn’t yet approved, which might be beneficial to her in the future.

Betty shares, “If you feel something’s wrong, go find out. If it’s bad news, at least you’ll catch it early, and you have some help there to do it. I believe God has blessed me again by giving me the best team possible.” 

To read more about Betty and to watch a short video on her story, click here.


Genomic Tumor Board (GTB) updates

During this period of social distancing due to COVID-19, the MCGI team will continue to run the GTB series remotely. We plan to keep the normal schedule of sessions on the 2020 calendar and for the time-being, the MCGI team will moderate and support all sessions remotely. Please see our website for specific dates. Clinicians and other attending staff will have the option to call in from a conference room or to call in individually. In addition, to meet the needs of the Maine oncology community, two sub-specialty GTB sessions have been added to the 2020 GTB series.

Gynecologic-Oncology GTB 
MCGI held the first gynecology-oncology GTB in January of this year. Sessions are hosted from the Maine Medical Partners Women's Health Division of Gynecologic Oncology and will review genomic test results for cancers originating from any region of the female reproductive system.


Pediatric Oncology GTB Ching lau, brain tumors, pediatric brain cancer, medulloblastoma
In March, MCGI began a series of pediatric oncology GTBs. Sessions will be co-hosted by Northern Light Pediatric Cancer Care and the Maine Children's Cancer Program. Our advisors include Dr. Alanna Church, molecular pathologist from Boston Children's Hospital and Dr. Steven Dubois, pediatric oncologist and director of the pediatric phase I trial program at DFCI. Dr.s Church and Dubois will provide expertise in the molecular diagnosis of pediatric tumors and possible treatment outcomes.



MCGI in the news 

Jens 2020 Speaking Engagement

Precision Oncology News published a story on MCGI's impact on the Maine oncology community and its patients. 

Jens Rueter, M.D. was invited to talk about MCGI and GTBs at the Precision Medicine World Conference in Santa Clara in January. He also had the opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges in GTB implementation in community practice.


MCGI Study and Event Information

At the time of this newsletter's publication we continue to enroll MCGI study participants and anticipate that we will continue to do so during COVID-19 containment and mitigation activities. Our testing lab has dedicated capacity for tests submitted as part of the MCGI study.

Please follow your local institution's policies and guidance around study enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with respect to social distancing and patient contact. However, we strongly encourage you to perform MCGI study activities including Informed Consent review remotely to reduce risk. We will be in contact with Site PIs and research staff to provide recommendations on how to conduct study activities safely during this time. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at or call 207-288-6316.

2020 MCGI Forum to be rescheduled 

2020 MCGI Forum Rescheduled

After careful consideration, we have decided to reschedule the 2020 MCGI Forum, which was previously slated for April 3 and 4. In response to the emerging and rapidly evolving circumstances associated with the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), we plan to host the meeting this fall. We are actively working to set a new date for the Forum and will share that information as soon as it is available. 

Thanks so much for your understanding and being a part of the MCGI community!