The SITC Sparkathon – Emerging Leaders, Igniting Innovation is an exciting opportunity for early career scientists seeking to advance their career and the cancer immunotherapy field.
Launched in 2017, the SITC Sparkathon program aims to bring together young investigators of various backgrounds, degrees and professional experiences to collaboratively solve hurdles facing the field of cancer immunotherapy over a one-year period.
The first SITC Sparkathon class, the 2017 Cohort, met in August 2017 during a two-day retreat in Chicago where they competed in teams for funding to implement their innovative projects designed to solve a hurdle facing the field. Two projects were selected, TimIOs and the METIOR Incubator. Both groups will present their findings during the 33rd Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs in November 2018.
SITC SPARKATHON 2017 COHORT
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A group of emerging leaders are selected following an application process to gather for a two-day retreat in a “Technology Hackathon” meets “Shark Tank” format to explore the hurdles and challenges facing the field of cancer immunotherapy with the goal of identifying projects that provide a solution to one or more of the identified hurdles.
The emerging leaders develop project proposals with guidance from renowned business experts during the retreat. A panel of judges award the most promising project(s) up to $175,000, which the participants use to implement the project(s) during the following 12-18 months, culminating in a presentation at the society’s next Annual Meeting.
Projects developed during the retreat must be collaborative by design throughout implementation. Sample projects may include high-risk (non-preliminary data) projects, methods exchange, whitepapers, business plans, educational and media tools. The participants emerge as a unique cohort, a dynamic network of young cancer immunotherapy professionals formed to further individual professional development and foster collaborations across institutions and work settings.
The 2017 SITC Sparkathon retreat was held August 28-29, 2017 in Chicago. Two projects emerged and the 2017 Cohort will implement these projects through 2018 and present them during the 33rd Annual Meeting and Pre-Conference Programs. The application cycle for the next SITC Sparkathon cohort has not yet been announced.
The following were the goals of the two-day retreat:
Following the retreat, the cohort will formulate a detailed execution plan including budgets and timelines. The group will be provided with resources of up to $175,000 for project(s) development and implementation. An online communication and project management platform will be provided to further the development of plans on an ongoing basis and foster continued relationship development among the group. The collaborative interface platform will bring like-minded people together in a secure community designed to enable relevant and purposeful interactions, ignite knowledge sharing, drive content creation and improve performance.
The cohort will have approximately 12-18 months to execute project plans. Project outcomes will be considered for publication in the Journal of ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) and for presentation at the society’s next Annual Meeting. The 2017 SITC Sparkathon projects will be presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting, to be held Nov. 9 – 11, 2018 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, District of Columbia.
The SITC Sparkathon is supported in part by an anonymous donor, Amgen, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Genentech and Incyte Corporation.
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