Although Côte d'Ivoire has plans to treat the most aggressive forms of breast cancer with immunotherapy, the country’s pathologists currently lack formal training in conducting diagnostic tests to determine which patients are eligible for immunotherapy treatment. To address this gap, PhenoPath trained Prof. Diomande on interpreting immunotherapy biomarkers, such as programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), to determine which patients could benefit the most from immunotherapy. Being able to correctly interpret PD-L1 biomarkers is particularly significant for improving patient outcomes in Côte d’Ivoire as immunotherapy offers a dramatic shift in the way cancer is treated. Immunotherapy drugs target the immune system to fight disease without harming healthy cells, a toxic side effect of untargeted chemotherapies and radiation. Prof. Diomande remarks, “Accurate interpretation of immunotherapy biomarkers by pathologists will be very important for our breast and colon cancer patients. I plan to teach my pathology students what I have learned so the knowledge can be passed on and we can save more lives.”
Featured left to right: Daniel Seymour (BVGH), Dr. Harry Hwang (PhenoPath), Dr. Homian (Ivorian fellow), Prof. Diomande (Ivorian fellow), Dr. Steve Kussick (PhenoPath), Sameera Pochiraju (BVGH)
"Friends of Cancer Patients congratulates BVGH for carrying out a successful fellowship program and wishes continued success to the Ivorian doctors who participated in the program." - Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of Friends of Cancer Patients Charity, UAE
Building on the breast pathology workshop led by BVGH in collaboration with ASCP in April 2019, Prof. Diomande visited ASCP’s headquarters in Chicago following his fellowship at PhenoPath. He met with Dr. Dan Milner, Chief Medical Officer of ASCP, to discuss opportunities for future partnership and visited the pathology departments at Northwestern University Hospital and the University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital to learn about their clinical services. On behalf of SIPath, Prof. Diomande values the ongoing collaboration with ASCP, which continues to provide technical and advisory support to Ivorian pathologists.
The Road Ahead
Even though there is much work ahead in diagnosing and treating cancer in Côte d'Ivoire, there have been striking advancements in the past few years, backed by strong government commitment. Today, the country has three IHC machines, a radiotherapy center, and perhaps one of the greatest assets of all - skilled and committed healthcare workers such as Prof. Diomande who are dedicated to improving patient lives. Prof. Diomande recently launched Sante Education Developpement Côte d'Ivoire, a non-governmental organization (NGO), to promote health, education, and sustainable development in rural areas of the country. Juggling between his roles as a pathologist, educator, and NGO President, Prof. Diomande believes Côte d'Ivoire’s future is bright -- "A healthy, well-educated, and literate person undeniably remains an effective agent of development for his community, his country, and the whole of humanity. Training programs such as the PhenoPath fellowship are important mechanisms to ensure my country is able to achieve its potential.”
Prof. Diomande at his desk at CHU Cocody in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Prof. Diomande and Dr. Homian express their heartfelt thanks to the entire PhenoPath team - Dr. Allen Gown, Dr. Steve Kussick, Dr. Harry Hwang, Dr. Cigdem Ussakli, Dr. David Hoak, Dr. Shawna Pyott, Dr. Ying Li, and Dr. Sandra Bohling.
BVGH is grateful to PhenoPath and Friends of Cancer Patients – for their efforts to make this fellowship a success – and our AAI program partners, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Johnson & Johnson, and Faber Daeufer & Itrato PC.