Emory Urology a Strong Presence at AUA 2017

Emory Urology resident Usama Al-Qassab, MD, presenting his award winning abstract

Emory Urology resident Usama Al-Qassab, MD, presenting his award winning abstract.

May 2017

The 112th Annual American Urologic Association (AUA) Meeting was held in Boston, MA, May 12-16, 2017. Emory Urology once again had a major impact, with a total of eight podium presentations, 17 poster presentations, one video presentation, and four prime-time plenary presentations that involved faculty, trainees, and staff.

On Friday May 12th, the plenary session included presentation of the updated 2017 AUA guidelines on localized prostate cancer. Dr. Martin Sanda, Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology, is chair of the guidelines panel for localized prostate cancer and presented the new guidelines on localized intermediate prostate cancer.

Emory Urology's involvement in the prime-time plenary sessions continued on Sunday, May 14th. Dr. Andrew Kirsch, Clinical Professor of Urology and Chief of Pediatric Urology, participated in a Point-Counterpoint debate, discussing "Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Reflux" in pediatric urology. On Monday, May 15th, Dr. Jeff Carney, Assistant Professor of Urology and Chief of Urology at Grady Memory Hospital, debated in the Crossfire: Controversies in Urology session. The topic of discussion was whether or not Grade IV Renal Trauma should be managed conservatively.

Dr. Usama Al-Qassab, PGY-4 (Uro-3) resident, was honored to present his award winning best abstract, "Liquid Biopsy for Renal Cell Carcinoma," at the plenary session. The senior author of the study was Dr. John Petros, Professor of Urology. This prospective study enrolled patients with renal masses to determine if a biomarker can be used to detect kidney cancer.

"The scientific rationale is that cell free DNA can be sampled from the blood, and queried for DNA from the tumor itself, called circulating tumor DNA," says Dr. Al-Qassab. "Our objective was to develop whole-exome sequencing of circulating tumor DNA to interrogate it for commonly mutated genes in renal cell carcinoma. Our hypothesis was that in doing this, we could develop a circulating tumor DNA assay that could reliably serve as a biomarker for RCC, and could make a diagnosis with a single blood sample."

The study found that the majority of early stage kidney cancer patients have circulating tumor DNA detectable in the blood. Dr. Petros, Dr. Al-Qassab, and their team hope that with further refinement, this test can help clinicians detect and diagnose kidney cancer with a simple blood draw.

In addition to presenting research data from Emory at the meeting, faculty members served in leadership and teaching roles. Dr. John Pattaras, Associate Professor of Urology, and Dr. Chris Filson, Assistant Professor of Urology, served as moderators for poster sessions, while Dr. Sanda conducted a course on localized prostate cancer guidelines. Dr. Akanksha Mehta, Assistant Professor of Urology, gave a lecture entitled "Patient-Level Barriers to Access to Reproductive Care" at the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction sub-specialty meeting.

Emory Urology held its annual alumni event at Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall, providing opportunities for networking among colleagues, alumni, current residents, faculty, and research staff. The department is looking forward to next year's meeting in San Francisco, and plans to continue its high level of participation.

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