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AETN, UAMS to host screening, panel discussion

Posted 04 Mar 2015

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) invite the public to a free preview of 'Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,' a series produced by Ken Burns, Monday, March 9, from 4-6 p.m. The screening will be held at the UAMS Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, 501 Jack Stephens Drive, Little Rock, in the Fred Smith Conference Center on the 12th floor.'Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies' tells the comprehensive story of cancer, from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to the gleaming laboratories of modern research institutions. At six hours, the film interweaves a sweeping historical narrative with intimate stories about contemporary patients, and an investigation into the latest scientific breakthroughs that may have brought lasting cures within sight.This free screening will include the first hour of the series, followed by a one hour panel discussion. Panelists include: Peter Emanuel, M.D., director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, who specializes in leukemia and lymphoma; Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., breast cancer surgeon and director of the UAMS Breast Cancer Program; Matthew Steliga, M.D., a UAMS cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in lung cancer, tumors of the chest and esophageal cancer; and Issam Makhoul, M.D., a UAMS medical oncologist specializing in breast and gastrointestinal cancers.Parking will be available in Parking 3 at the corner of West Capitol and Cedar Street. A small parking fee will apply to parking decks.'Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,' a three-part documentary series directed by Barak Goodman and executive produced by Burns, will air on AETN Monday, March 30, through Wednesday, April 1, at 8 each night. A collaboration of Florentine Films, Laura Ziskin Pictures and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Ark Media, the series is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer' (Simon & Schuster 2010) by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D.The film includes three episodes:'Magic Bullets,' premiering March 30. – The search for a 'cure' for cancer is the greatest epic in the history of science. It spans centuries and continents and is full of its share of heroes, villains and sudden vertiginous twists. This episode follows that centuries-long search but centers on the story of Sidney Farber, who, defying conventional wisdom in the late 1940s, introduces the modern era of chemotherapy, eventually galvanizing a full-scale national 'war on cancer.' Interwoven with Farber's narrative is the contemporary story of little Olivia Blair, who at 14 months old is diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which spreads to her brain and spinal column. The film follows her as she and her parents struggle with the many hardships and decisions foisted upon a cancer patient. She remains in full remission a year after her diagnosis but is still on her journey to finish her three-year treatment plan. 'The Blind Men and The Elephant,' premiering March 31. – This episode picks up the story in the wake of the declaration of a 'war on cancer' by Richard Nixon in 1971. Flush with optimism and awash with federal dollars, the cancer field plunges forward in search of a cure. In the lab, rapid progress is made in understanding the essential nature of the cancer cell, leading to the revolutionary discovery of the genetic basis of cancer. But, at the bedside where patients are treated, few new therapies become available, and a sense of disillusionment takes hold, leading some patients and doctors to take desperate measures. It is not until the late 1990s that the advances in research begin to translate into more precise targeted therapies with the breakthrough drugs Gleevec and Herceptin. Following the history during these fraught decades, the film intertwines the contemporary story of Dr. Lori Wilson, a surgical oncologist who is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in both breasts in 2013. Her emotional and physical struggles with the disease provide a bracing counterpoint to the historical narrative.'Finding an Achilles Heel,' premiering April 1. – This episode picks up the story at another moment of buoyant optimism in the cancer world: Scientists believe they have cracked the essential mystery of the malignant cell and the first targeted therapies have been developed, with the promise of many more to follow. But, very quickly cancer reveals new layers of complexity and a formidable array of unforeseen defenses. In the disappointment that follows, many call for a new focus on prevention and early detection as the most promising fronts in the war on cancer. Other scientists are undeterred, and by the second decade of the 2000s their work pays off. The bewildering complexity of the cancer cell, so recently considered unassailable, yields to a more ordered picture, revealing new vulnerabilities and avenues of attack. Perhaps most exciting of all is the prospect of harnessing the human immune system to defeat cancer. This episode includes patients Doug Rogers, a 60-year-old NASCAR mechanic with melanoma, and Emily Whitehead, a 6-year-old child afflicted with leukemia. Each is a pioneer in new immunotherapy treatments, which the documentary follows as their stories unfold. Both see their advanced cancers recede and are able to resume normal lives.In addition to the television broadcast premiere, WETA has launched, an expansive website with social and interactive media components created in conjunction with the documentary, including an innovative short film series executive produced by Burns and created by Redglass Pictures, featuring individual cancer patients and caregivers.The interactive website includes a mixture of produced and user-generated content exploring the three intermingled strands of the series: a riveting historical documentary, an engrossing and intimate vérité film that focuses on current patients, and a scientific report. The website is intended for the vast cancer community of patients and survivors, family members, caregivers, scientists, clinicians and other healthcare providers , as well as the public at large. Participants can share their stories now at, engage with the project on Twitter via @CancerFilm or #CancerFilm, and visit the project on Facebook at supporters include Genentech, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Siemens, David H. Koch, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Kovler Fund, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS.UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,890 students and 782 medical residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit or Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).