Boyce Kennedy, Natesan, Receive ASCO Conquer Cancer Merit Awards

On April 15, Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, announced the recipients of its 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting Merit Awards. 

These distinguished awards support oncology trainees who are first authors on abstracts selected for presentation at the ASCO Annual Meeting, to be held June 4 to June 8.

This year, Conquer Cancer is recognizing 164 recipients from across the country with Merit Awards "for their respective field and research advancements within the cancer care community."

Two from Duke Cancer Institute/Duke University School of Medicine were among those selected —  Lucy Boyce Kennedy, MD, and Divya Natesan, MD.

Kennedy Receives Conquer Cancer 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting Merit Award

Lucy Boyce Kennedy, MD, who completed a Hematology-Oncology fellowship at Duke this month, has been selected to receive a 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award for her abstract “An immunogenomic analysis of melanoma brain metastases (MBM) compared to extracranial metastases (ECM)." (Abstract authors: Lucy Boyce Kennedy, Amanda Van Swearingen, Zhecheng Sheng, Dadong Zhang, Xiaodi Qin, Eric Lipp, Swaminathan Kumar, Gao Zhang, Brent Hanks, Michael Davies, Kouros Owzar, Carey K. Anders, April K.S. Salama)

As a fellow, Kennedy spearheaded several research projects. In this particular study, the team investigated genomic and molecular drivers of melanoma brain metastases — utilizing published sequencing data from MD Anderson Cancer Center combined with new sequencing of Duke melanoma brain metastasis samples from the Brain Tumor Biorepository. The study’s principle investigators are April Salama, MD, and Carey Anders, MD. Salama is the main PI.

Kennedy will present a short pre-recorded talk along with her poster for that abstract at the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Kennedy studied chemistry and French as an undergraduate at Duke University before moving to Vanderbilt University for both medical school and an internal medicine residency. Kennedy returned to Duke as a fellow in 2018. She will be joining the melanoma group at the Cleveland Clinic in July.

Q & A

What was your happiest experience during your fellowship? Getting to know my continuity clinic patients at the VA (Durham VA Medical Center). Also looking back at the end of fellowship and realizing how much I have grown both from clinical and research perspectives. I am grateful for my excellent clinical and research mentors.
What was your toughest experience during your fellowship? One challenge during Covid was watching my patients who were admitted be separated from their families while they were in the hospital, especially early in the pandemic when visitor restrictions were tighter.
What will you miss most about Duke? My co-fellows!
Who taught you the most or inspired you most during fellowship? My patients, who inspired me to ask questions and keep reading so I could provide them with the best care.

(The above content on Dr. Kennedy was featured in the latest Duke Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis at DCI e-newsletter produced by Amanda Van Swearingen, PhD)

Natesan Receives Conquer Cancer 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting Merit Award

Resident Divya Natesan, MD, was selected to receive the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Conquer Cancer Eisai Inc. Endowed Merit Award. This merit award recognizes a female fellow who submitted a high-scoring abstract in the Merit Award category as determined by the Scientific Program Committee.

Natesan's presentation "Impact of Machine Learning-Directed On-Treatment Evaluations on Cost of Acute Care Visits: Economic Analysis of SHIELD-RT" will be featured in a discussant session on Friday, June 4, 2021 at 9 a.m. She will also present "Cancer Patient Satisfaction with Telehealth: Survey Results from a Large NCI-Designated Cancer Institute" in a poster session on June 4.

Natesan is also one of two
residents to be named Chief Resident (Radiation Oncology) at Duke University Hospital for the next academic year.

(The above content on Dr. Natesan was featured in the latest Department of Radiation Oncology e-newsletter produced by Sarah Brady)