Archive for September, 2010


Sep 24 2010

A Busy Start to Fall

by at 10:06 am

So now I can officially say that I hope everybody had a great summer. I spent the last day of summer at a golf tournament benefiting the Wellness Community of Washington. I was paired with John and Liza Marshall, and we enjoyed the beautiful weather and wonderful conditions of Musket Ridge Golf Course in Myerstown, Maryland. As always, golf won and I once again proved that my golf handicap is my swing, and cannot be measured by a number. More importantly, I was delighted to contribute to such a wonderful cause.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to contribute as a member of the Tufts Medical Center Cancer Center’s External Advisory board. Some of you may know that I trained in Medical Oncology and Hematology there sometime in the late 20th century. Tufts and Georgetown share some important characteristics in that the University and Medical Centers are distinct organizational and fiscal enterprises. However, Tufts is considerably more disengaged from the activities of its Medical Center, and I was struck by the wisdom of having Georgetown more actively engaged in the research mission of its cancer center.

This perspective was reinforced by the Georgetown University Board Meeting last week, which included a meeting of the Committee on Medical Center Affairs (COMCA). The COMCA meeting, which includes MedStar CEO Ken Samet, provided ongoing evidence of the increasingly shared vision held by Georgetown University and MedStar with respect to cancer services and cancer research. Needless to say, I am encouraged by these developments, and look forward to sharing more substantive details in the future.

Along those lines, Lombardi is now actively overseeing clinical activities at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, Maryland. This arrangement was spearheaded by John Marshall, and is being overseen energetically by John Deeken. There are a number of significant advantages to developing this relationship, which should advance Lombardi’s clinical and clinical research activities. Plus it gave me something tangible to talk about when I met Wednesday with Maryland-based Congressional aides at a Georgetown reception for members of Congress and Hill staffers who have connections to the University.

I was delighted to see so many people at Rakesh Kumar’s presentation titled, “PAK-Signaling Dependent Regulation of Mitosis in Cancer Cells” last Friday in the Research Building Auditorium. Rakesh’s work certainly connects to my interests and I am sure his presentation was of specific interest to many of the attendees. I look forward to opportunities to collaborate with him, and he seems open to them as well.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend.  I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming Sector Meeting, scheduled for Monday at noon in Warwick Evans, and Town Hall, scheduled for Tuesday at noon in the Research Building Auditorium.

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Sep 17 2010

Personal milestone, professional progress

by at 10:26 am

I hope everyone is enjoying this amazing fall-like weather!

This past week marked a personal milestone for me—I became a grandfather for the first time! My grandson, Isaac Solomon Fertig, was born on Saturday, September 11, weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces.  Isaac, our daughter Elana and her husband Ben are doing great. As is the right of any self-respecting new grandfather, I have attached a few pictures.

In other good news, we received the official notice this week that our Comprehensive Cancer Center status has been renewed through the next CCSG term. While this was not a surprise, it is an affirmative reminder of the caliber of the work we do here, and of the company we keep.  Sometimes those facts get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  There is much to be proud of at Lombardi.

We kicked off our response to the NCI’s CCSG critique this week with a vibrant planning meeting of our program directors. The objective was to have participants present their ideas on how we can improve upon our program structure to best organize our science. For the purposes of this discussion, basically nothing was off the table. We discussed ways we could combine or realign our existing programs in ways that specifically and strategically address the CCSG critiques, promote collaboration and showcase our unique strengths.  This meeting was highly productive and many excellent ideas were proposed and debated. I plan to select a candidate program structure by the end of the month, and will discuss it at the upcoming Town Hall on September 28 at noon. This structure will be fleshed out to include major themes and suggested allocations of program members and then presented to a group of by external advisors that includes our ESAC. Once we have agreed upon the changes that will be made we will present the modified structure to the NCI Cancer Center Program for review and comment.

Have a great weekend!

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Sep 10 2010

End-of-Summer Update: Looking ahead to challenges and opportunities that await

by at 10:17 am

I hope everybody had an enjoyable summer, and had the chance to recharge their batteries a bit. While I have been pretty busy over the past few months I took a bit of time off in August as well, so I am long overdue for a blog entry. My recent trip to South Korea was remarkable and fascinating, and I’ve posted a couple of photos here for your enjoyment. It was nice to find a Phillies fan at a baseball game in Seoul, and although the shirt was the wrong color, he apparently (and most probably, unknowingly) roots for the “right” football team, too! Although I was called back early from my trip due to a family emergency that fortunately resolved, I have returned to work feeling energized, focused and ready for a busy fall season.

As I’ve previously communicated, we were notified unofficially a few months ago that our CCSG funding would be reduced by 50% and that the grant would be renewed for three years rather than the five years we had requested. In what came as no surprise, this week we received the confirmatory official notification of grant award from the NCI. So, we remain funded and have retained our Comprehensive status. However, we must plan to submit a competitive renewal in about two years.

Moving forward, our biggest and most immediate challenge will be to develop a decisive plan of action to respond to our recent CCSG evaluation. I have already begun this process, soliciting the help and input of leadership from Lombardi, GUMC, our External Scientific Advisory Board and the University. Over the coming months, we will work to address the specific criticisms raised by the site review team. I will need everyone’s help as we pull together in a process of honest and unflinching self-evaluation to ensure that our science and our organizational structure are strong and meet the expectations of the next set of CCSG reviewers.

I look forward to sharing more details about this process at our upcoming Town Hall meeting on September 28 at noon. Look out for reminders about the Town Hall in your inbox.

In other news, we have two new members of the Lombardi team to welcome. Lauren Wolkoff, our new director of communications, replaced Allison Whitney as of August 18. Lauren comes to us from Georgetown’s Office of Advancement, where she worked on the Marketing and Communications team to produce and edit GUMC fundraising materials. Among other projects, Lauren was also editor of Georgetown Medicine magazine. While she is not new to Georgetown, she is new to Lombardi so I encourage you to welcome her and fill her in on your projects. She can be reached at ext. 72960 or at

We are also happy to welcome Bob Brier as director of grant services for Lombardi. Bob will be filling the role previously held by Maureen McMahon, directing the pre-award process for all grants and contracts submitted by Lombardi PIs. Bob moved to Washington from Boston, where he previously worked as department administrator for the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He also served as the administrative director for the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. Bob started September 8; please stop by to welcome him. He can be reached at ext. 77787 or by email at

As you can see, there’s a lot going on right now. I look forward to connecting with many of you at the Town Hall later this month. Until then, enjoy the sense of renewal and excitement that comes with fall (not to mention the cooler weather!).

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