Focus: Pancreatic Cancer

Organized by Agi Hirshberg, the 13th Annual Agi Hirshberg Symposium on Pancreatic Cancer is set to take place Saturday February 25 with keynote speakers and attendees expected to bring valuable information to the discussion.

The educational and inspirational patient-centered program will cover topics including advances in chemotherapy and surgery, and nutrition. Two new experts will be joining the panel to discuss the challenges in treating pancreatic cancer and the hereditary factor: Anirban Maitra, MBBS from MD Anderson Cancer Center will answer the age-old question, “Why is pancreatic cancer so hard to treat and what can we do about it?” And Dr. Randall Brand, a genetic specialist from the University of Pittsburgh will discuss, “Is it all in the Genes?”

More than 200 clinicians, researchers, patients and survivors will come together to showcase and learn about the latest breakthroughs and treatments in pancreatic cancer research.


Sponsored by the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the symposium has advanced to become a prominent think tank for pancreatic cancer, according to event organizers.

“The Agi Hirshberg Symposium is a ‘day of hope’ for those affected by pancreatic cancer,” Founder of the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research Agi Hirshberg told Westside Today at last year’s event. “We are honored and fortunate to host this annual event that provides the most up-to-date information about pancreatic cancer from leading experts. The symposium is complimentary to the public and is a valuable resource made available to those who may not otherwise have access to the latest, multifaceted data and facts about pancreatic cancer.”

The following interview was held with Agi Hirshberg at the 12th Symposium.

What is the Agi Hirshberg Symposium on Pancreatic Cancer?

The Agi Hirshberg Symposium is a think tank for pancreatic cancer. It exclusively fuses medical experts and specialists, clinicians, researchers, survivors, caretakers, patients and their families in one setting to learn as much as possible and receive the latest updates about treatments and developments in pancreatic cancer research. The Agi Hirshberg Symposium is considered to be one of the most impressive collaborative symposiums in the country.

How did the Hirshberg Symposium begin? How has the Symposium evolved over the years?

The Symposium started in 2005 and was designed to showcase information between the various research and treatment areas for pancreatic cancer. Seed grant recipients from the Hirshberg Foundation presented final data and posters of their projects. While the Symposiums have been very informative, the science presented has, at times, been difficult for the lay-person to understand.  So, beginning in 2010, the Symposium was broken down into two parts: a full-day session for medical professionals and a shortened program-within-the -program for a non-medical audience.  Since 2013, the medical session has been incorporated into the annual APA meetings and the symposium has focused solely on patients and families.

What kind of insight and knowledge would attendees benefit from the Symposium?

The Symposium receives a diverse collection of attendees including, but not limited to patients, doctors and caretakers. Attendees will receive comprehensive information on Integrative Care provided by the UCLA Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases, Advances in Cancer Chemotherapy, Nutrition Management and will have a profound panel discussion with cancer survivors.

The Hirshberg Foundation has had a long relationship with UCLA, how did that develop?

The relationship between UCLA and the Hirshberg Foundation was established after my husband Ron died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54. The Foundation began by funding two projects at UCLA. The Ronald S. Hirshberg Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory and the Ronald S. Hirshberg Chair in Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research were funded with a commitment to support the research programs until the National Institutes of Health grant recognition became available. Over time, the relationship successfully cultivated to a partnership devoted to pancreatic cancer concentrating in research and clinical areas.

In addition to providing the best oncology, medical and nutritional information, you also feature a panel of cancers survivors. Explain what that entails.

Since the Symposium attendees heavily consist of patients, survivors, caregivers and families affected by pancreatic cancer, in 2014 we introduced a section of the program that features a panel discussion with patients who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This creates an honest and open discussion from a patient’s perspective. It’s “real talk” from “real patients” about cancer.

Recently, the UCLA Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases was unveiled; what is its function?

The Hirshberg Foundation (established in 1997) is the first-of-its-kind to focus exclusively on pancreatic cancer. Under the strong and determined direction of founder Agi Hirshberg and the generous $10 million in gifts to UCLA from Hirshberg, the UCLA Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases opened in 2015. The Center applies a multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and treatment of patients with pancreatic diseases. The Center combines the expertise of physicians from surgery, gastroenterology, radiology, medical oncology, and pathology who are specialized in pancreatic diseases.

How long will the Hirshberg Symposium continue?

The Symposium will continue to move forward until a cure for pancreatic cancer is found and new treatments and early detection methods have been created. It will continue to present and disseminate the best information available.


The 13th Annual Agi Hirshberg Symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is mandatory. For more information and to register, please visit or call 310.473.5121. Saturday, February 25, 8.30 a.m. – 3 p.m., UCLA Faculty Center, 480 Charles Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1617.


The Hirshberg Foundation

Founded in 1997, the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing pancreatic cancer research, and providing information, resources and support to pancreatic cancer patients and their families. Established by Agi Hirshberg, whose husband Ronald died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54, the foundation includes: the Ronald S. Hirshberg Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory; the Ronald S. Hirshberg Chair in Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research; and the Hirshberg Pancreatic Cancer Information Center.

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Agi Hirshberg - Center for Pancreatic Diseases - 150211
Agi Hirshberg – Center for Pancreatic Diseases – 150211


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