Anna Berkenblit, MD, MMSc

Anna Berkenblit, MD, MMSc

PanCAN’s new Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, Anna Berkenblit, MD, MMSc, has nearly 20 years of experience bringing new therapies to patients with cancer. She’s served in leadership roles in pharma and biotech companies where she led the clinical development of multiple cancer drugs, including most recently a therapy now approved by FDA for ovarian cancer.

The motivation behind all this work? A deep empathy for people faced with cancer and their families. The patients she met early in her career at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as a clinical oncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have always guided the path she’s taken.

“One of my values is I’ve always wanted to be of use, and I can’t imagine a more gratifying career than a career in oncology taking care of patients facing cancer and all the problems that come with it,” she said. “And while that was really gratifying, at the end of the day, I realized that I wanted to help patients more by developing novel therapies. That would be a way for me to touch thousands and thousands of patients’ lives instead of one at a time in the office. So that’s really what inspired me to work in clinical trials to develop cancer drugs.”

Register for our free May 30th webinar, “Spotlight on Clinical Trials: A PanCAN Conversation,” featuring Dr. Berkenblit as well as an expert physician-scientist, a PanCAN Patient Services manager and pancreatic cancer survivor.

At PanCAN, she’s looking forward to bringing that dual experience – as a clinician and biotech leader – to a team leading the way in pancreatic cancer research. Not only is she excited about the potential for a new era of cancer treatment based on emerging scientific insights, she’s optimistic that the strong community of researchers PanCAN has built over the past 25 years is poised to make breakthroughs for patients faced with pancreatic cancer.

“Other tumor types have really benefited from targeted therapies,” she said. “And I think we’re just beginning to see those benefits for patients with BRCA mutations and for other mutations in pancreatic cancer. But there’s more to be tapped into. I’m excited about the prospect of the new wave of targeted therapies and harnessing the immune system to treat pancreatic cancer.”

To continue to move forward, we need to share knowledge and bring people together ready to create change. Dr. Berkenblit appreciates PanCAN’s commitment to this work – it’s what motivated her to join the team and she’s excited to bring her skills and expertise to the organization.

“I love that Pam Acosta Marquardt, one of the founders of PanCAN, describes herself as a dot connector,” said Dr. Berkenblit. “I would love to be able to connect the dots amongst all the various efforts for pancreatic cancer. Let’s keep pulling them together and figuring out how we can synergize and accelerate progress.”

Because, at the end of the day, improving the lives of everyone impacted by pancreatic cancer drives all of PanCAN’s work. Dr. Berkenblit feels that same call to action.

“I think PanCAN has done a wonderful job over the last 25 years building the community for pancreatic cancer, building advocacy for funding of pancreatic cancer,” she said. “And now I’m really excited to join PanCAN at this inflection point, to bring PanCAN to the next phase of its growth to help pancreatic cancer patients.”

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