Meet the Editors-in-Chief of Veterinary Oncology

Veterinary Oncology is a new launch, open access journal which will cover all aspects of cancer research and clinical management in veterinary medicine.
Meet the Editors-in-Chief of Veterinary Oncology

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Our new Editors-in-Chief, Dr. Amy LeBlanc and Prof. David Killick, answer 5 questions on their research backgrounds, career highlights, and their plans for Veterinary Oncology.

Dr. Amy LeBlanc (AL) is Senior Scientist and Director of the CCR Comparative Oncology Program at the National Cancer Institute, NIH. Prof. David Killick (DK) is Professor of Small Animal Oncology at the University of Liverpool, UK and current Chair of the ECVIM Oncology Specialty Group. 

What is your research background?
 I’m a veterinary oncologist and translational researcher – which in simple terms means that I study cancers in pet dogs as naturally-occurring patient models for humans. This work helps us understand how cancers form, progress and respond to treatment through a comparative lens, and supports discoveries that lead to new treatments for both human and canine cancer patients. My lab at the NIH-National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a specific focus in the comparative biology of osteosarcoma, leveraging access to canine patients through the NCI’s Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC), a network of veterinary schools throughout the US and Canada that enrolls pet dogs with cancer into multicenter clinical trials. Our studies provide new insight into promising diagnostic and therapeutic concepts destined for use in humans, but also contribute to the collective knowledge and understanding of veterinary cancers.

DK: My PhD was investigating MAGE cancer testis antigens as possible targets for immunotherapy in canine cancer. I am still involved in some work looking at MAGE, but more recently I have become interested in use of big data for drug safety and understanding cancer care in first opinion practice (where >90% of it is treated).

What is your favorite thing about your work?
The freedom to explore new frontiers in comparative cancer biology – which involves asking lots of provocative questions about what canine and human cancers have in common, but also what facets are different. This knowledge will ultimately lead to improvement in outcomes for both species. Of late, we are experiencing an unprecedented expansion in the field, particularly as it pertains to availability of tools and datasets that help us relate genomic and molecular features of veterinary cancers to their human counterparts.

DK: I am an academic so life is never dull and its great to see (and hopefully support) others overcoming challenges I have experienced, but in different (usually better ways).

What has been your biggest challenge and your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Challenge: Comparative oncology is still in its relative infancy as a field – as we push the boundaries of knowledge across veterinary cancers, we realize the ongoing and urgent need to develop and share species-specific tools, reagents and datasets that support new avenues of research across the cancer research community.

 Achievement: My group recently published work showing that prognostic transcriptional profiles discovered in canine osteosarcomas also have value in human osteosarcoma. In short, more heavily immune-infiltrated tumors had a superior outcome compared to those without a significant immune cell representation. We are continuing to delve into the spatial relationships of structural and cellular components of the tumor microenvironment, which should help us understand why and how different outcomes are achieved in both patient populations and inform the next generation of immune-focused therapies.

DK: I applied to join a small grant awarding committee and found myself Chair of the committee in the second meeting. Many of the systems needed a refresh, I worked with a small group to improve things and it was great to leave knowing the committee was in much better shape than when we started. 

What are you excited to commission?  
 I am excited to see manuscripts that explore topics such as veterinary drug development, consensus statements on veterinary cancer imaging and molecular characterization, and the application of new molecular diagnostic tools to individual animals and/or groups of patients. There is much excitement and promise to be realized through the application of molecular diagnostics in veterinary oncology, particularly in how these data can be linked to use of targeted therapies, prognostication, and identification of meaningful patient subsets. 

DK: AI seems to be the topic of the moment and I am really interested to learn how the community sees AI influencing all aspects of clinical oncology. 

Why should authors submit to the journal?
Authors will experience highly skilled peer review and support through APC vouchers for the first 3 years, which makes Veterinary Oncology an ideal outlet for publication of case reports, resident research projects, and description of cancers affecting wildlife and non-traditional companion animals.

DK: It is great that the veterinary oncology literature is growing rapidly, but a side effect is that it is becoming increasingly dispersed. I would really like this new journal to bring things back together a bit and help researchers, clinicians, trainees and the public find the oncology research they feel is relevant to them in Veterinary Oncology.

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Life Sciences > Biological Sciences > Veterinary Science
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  • BMC Veterinary Oncology BMC Veterinary Oncology

    This journal will aim to cover all aspects of cancer research and clinical management in veterinary medicine. It will focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer in various animal species, including but not limited to dogs, cats, horses, food animals, wildlife and exotic/zoo animals.