Archive for November, 2009


Nov 30 2009

A Remarkable Trip

by at 3:35 pm

Well, I am back from trips to South Korea, and then after a brief interlude in DC, to Philadelphia to visit family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I know this will sound like I’m gloating, but I must say the Eagles’ victory over the Redskins on Sunday made for a fine ending to a holiday weekend.

No, I did not try turkey with kimchee dressing…

South Korea is really remarkable, with a culture that is at once familiar and exotic. Perhaps my most interesting non-work experience was a tour of the demilitarized zone, and a chance to walk through one of the clandestine tunnels dug by North Korea to support a potential surprise attack. The tunnels are 6 x 6 feet, go about 1000 feet below ground and are pretty long. Being tall, I had to crouch my way through a few hundred meters of the so-called third tunnel, and must say that if I was one of the “attackers” they would have needed to have a stretcher and traction available for me when I exited the tunnel!

I had a chance to visit and speak at both the National Cancer Center and at Seoul National University, both of which are extremely impressive, though I spent more time in Cheonan, at Dankook University. The President of Dankook University and I discussed ways to help Dankook establish a cancer center in Cheonan, which (depending upon traffic and location in the province surrounding Cheonan) is anywhere from one to four hours away from Seoul; currently, everybody in that area (which contains well over 500,000 people) must travel to Seoul for therapy if they get a diagnosis of cancer. Even in countries as advanced as South Korea, so much work on the health care infrastructure remains to be done.

I am looking forward to this week; in particular, I’ll be attending a luncheon on Tuesday to thank the Lombardi Gala volunteers for their fabulous efforts to make the event such a wonderful success. I know I had a terrific time!

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Nov 06 2009

A Busy Week Before Heading to Seoul

by at 6:40 pm

I’ll be at Dankook University in South Korea as of November 11, doing some teaching and exploring collaborative opportunities, and I will spend a day or two at Seoul National University as well, giving a talk and meeting additional cancer research experts there. Hopefully, they’ll let me on the plane; those of you who have heard me speak in the last few days must have been looking around for the frog that invaded my larynx.

I have not yet received any news about our CCSG evaluation, but we should be hearing fairly soon. Frankly, I’ve been too busy to worry much about it. This week was highlighted by a busy clinic on Wednesday. I gave Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on Thursday morning (though my voice rarely rose above a hoarse whisper). I then spent some time in Vienna, VA at the NCI Translational Meeting, and then returned to meet with Dr. Eyran Halpern, who is in charge of the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, and was here to explore collaborative opportunities. Since he also oversees that largest HMO in Israel (with over 3 million covered lives), there are interesting opportunities to consider, such as those in Health Services Research (are you reading this Arnie Potosky?). This morning I returned to the NCI meeting to co-chair a session on antibody-based cancer immunotherapy. I returned in time to hear Cheryl Lyn Walker’s very interesting Grand Rounds presentation, and had some time to catch up on calls and paperwork.

I am looking forward to Saturday night’s Lombardi Gala, which has already been quite successful, considering the challenging economic climate. This year’s theme is “Celebrate Lombardi”, and we will certainly do that!

If only I could have celebrated a Phillies victory in the World Series. I guess I’ll have to focus on the Eagles for now.

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Nov 02 2009

Obligation and Opportunity

by at 11:03 am

I’m glad that so many Lombardi faculty and staff were able to attend last week’s Town Hall meeting on Health Disparities in the Research Building Auditorium. The panel engaged in a lively discussion regarding the important issue of health disparities with a focus on the District of Columbia. Lucile Adams-Campbell really represented Lombardi in a thoughtful and persuasive manner. Another highlight of the session was the powerful presence of Tovoia Miner, who relayed her experience with breast cancer and the role the Capital Breast Care Center played in assuring timely diagnosis and therapy. I am proud of what Lombardi is doing in the area of Health Disparities and look forward to even more impact from these efforts with Lucile’s leadership. I’m also appreciative of the efforts of the Friends of Cancer Research in conceiving of and organizing this important event.

For those of you whose work infrequently crosses into the Cancer Center’s clinical activities, one area that I’ve been interested in strengthening is multidisciplinary patient care and research. This requires an expansion of Lombardi’s focus beyond medical hematology and oncology to more fully engage our colleagues in radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and other sub-specialties. Several weeks ago I met with a number of the clinical department leaders to describe what Lombardi is doing and to solicit ideas about how we can work together more effectively. It was a pleasure to meet with Bruce Luxon, the new Chair of Medicine, and to continue to work with Greg Gagnon in Radiation Medicine. I was pleased to see Lynt Johnson, who is Interim Chair of Surgery, and discuss ways to incorporate surgical oncology into Lombardi’s research portfolio. I was doubly pleased when Lynt revealed that he not only loves golf, but is as bad at it as I am. I look forward to sharing a few shanks with him in the future.

Finally, on Thursday and Friday I’ll be representing Lombardi at the NCI Translational Science Meeting, called TSM 2. Fortunately, the meeting doesn’t require substantial travel as it will be held in Tyson’s corner. Before I head out on Thursday, I will be giving the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds lecture in the Gorman Auditorium. I hope to see some of you there.

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