Archive for October, 2010


Oct 29 2010

Announcing Lombardi’s New Organizational Structure

by at 1:32 pm

Dear Colleagues:

As you know by now, we have been engaged in a process to modify our program structures so that we can respond effectively to the CCSG critique that resulted from our competitive submission in May, 2009. This process has involved many of you, and I am grateful for the many helpful suggestions and comments that I received. The exact names of the programs might change over the next month or so, but this general organization will be retained.

I am especially grateful to all of the program leaders who have served Lombardi during the recent CCSG submission and review process. They represented us and our science with dedication and worked very hard to accurately portray the science we do together. However, the process of peer review is rigorous and at times unforgiving, and in the reorganization and prioritization of our collaborative research activities some changes in program leadership were necessary.

The program designations (remember, the actual titles are still tentative) and program leaders are described below. CET represents a trimmed down and refocused evolution of the former 3DT program, and MO encompasses elements of the former MTTR, GRC and 3DT programs.

Program Leader
Breast Cancer (BC) Bob Clarke, Claudine Isaacs
Clinical & Experimental Therapeutics (CET) John Marshall, TBN
Molecular Oncology (MO) Jeff Toretsky
Cancer Control (CC) Marc Schwartz
Carcinogenesis, Biomarkers & Epidemiology (CBE) Chris Loffredo

Over the next month the program leaders will work together and with program membership to identify the 2-4 major themes that define each of their programs, and will establish interest groups around those themes. Leaders of each interest group will be identified and will function thereafter as program co-leaders. I fully expect that while each interest group will have a specific “home program,” some interest group members may be primarily based in other programs. This will stimulate inter-programmatic collaborations. These interest groups will meet regularly and will become collaborative scientific entities that spawn the specific aims of our next CCSG submission. During this time, some Lombardi members will be invited to switch their primary program affiliations based on the new programmatic emphases that emerge from this process.

This is a real opportunity to develop an organizational structure that accurately reflects the science we do, and positions us to successfully compete for multi-investigator grants. I look forward to this process with excitement.

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Oct 22 2010

Feeling the Lombardi Momentum

by at 1:12 pm

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends this week. On top of very full days extending into various work-related evening activities, I’ve been keeping tab on the Phillies-Giants National League Championship Series. While work has been fine, the baseball hasn’t gone so well. As I write this blog, the Phillies are down, three games to two; one more loss and the baseball season is over for me. Well, if so, there’s always next year!

On Tuesday we hosted a delegation from Queens University, Belfast, to explore opportunities for collaboration in areas such as breast cancer and colorectal cancers. Some of you may remember that a few of us visited there last year, and as we have gotten to know each other better, several outstanding collaborative ideas have emerged that we are exploring. That evening I had a wonderful time with our major donors for the annual Lombardi Gala, which will be held on Saturday evening, November 6. I am pleased to report that we are tracking well ahead of last year’s numbers, and all signs point to a fabulously successful event. I am very grateful to Elena Jeannotte, Joe Teague and the rest of the “team,” as well as to our fabulous co-chairs —Paul Schweitzer, Barry Scher, Mark DeLuca and Brian Katz —for their unflagging efforts on our behalf. Plus, Tanya and Howard Adler have continued to be exceptional supporters. Thanks to everyone for their confidence in Lombardi and our mission!

On Wednesday morning Subha Madhavan, Hartmut Juhl and I spoke at a GU-sponsored symposium on biobanks (for the US-Norwegian Transatlantic Science Week) in the fabulous Lohrfink Auditorium of the Hariri Building on the Main Campus.  It was a very interesting symposium. And the building is really magnificent.

On Thursday morning I met with the Hematology/Oncology fellows to discuss clinical research. It is incredibly rewarding to speak with them. I try to meet with them monthly; if anybody wants to talk about their work at one of these meetings please let Phyllis Rand know. After seeing a few patients in the afternoon I had the privilege of participating in a reception to honor the Prince Charitable Trust for its $2.5 million endowment gift to Georgetown University Hospital for the purpose of supporting staff morale, with a focus on the activities of Lombardi’s terrific Arts and Humanities program and Palliative Care Program, headed by Nancy Morgan and Andrew Putnam, respectively. These programs make a huge difference in the lives of our patients, their families, our staff and our trainees, and this type of sustaining gift will provide a stable source of financial support for years to come.

So, I’ve been pretty busy this week, and there will be a lot to do next week, too.

On Monday afternoon, Lombardi is hosting a seminar, “Protecting Your Research Data: A Seminar on Information Security,” from 2-3:30 pm in the New Research Building Auditorium.  We’ll be unveiling our newly revamped Policy on Protection of Research Data, which incorporates UIS policies but is specific to the work in which all of us are engaged.  This is a timely activity because October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month.

This seminar is a unique opportunity to get a clear understanding of university and Lombardi information security policies and procedures, as well as best practices to ensure the security and integrity of your data.  Speakers include: Tod Greene, director of Lombardi Information Services; Subha Madhavan, Ph.D., chair of the Lombardi Data Security Group and director of Clinical Research Informatics at Lombardi; Heidi L. Wachs, director of Georgetown IT/ privacy officer; and Judith F. House, associate university information security officer.

The responsibility of protecting our data falls to all of us, so I hope you’ll make attending this seminar a priority.

On Tuesday we’ll continue the discussion on information technology with the long-awaited public launch of the Georgetown Database of Cancer, or G-DOC. The event is Tuesday afternoon, from 2-4:30, in the New Research Building Auditorium. Subha Madhavan, Lombardi’s director of clinical informatics, and her team have done a tremendous job of convening leaders from throughout Lombardi, GUMC and the university to demonstrate this tool’s practical applications for the study and management of cancer—and eventually other diseases.

I can’t express enough how critical I see G-DOC as being to our center’s mission. It will enable us to convert information into knowledge, and knowledge into power.  With the G-DOC site live, this is a proud moment for Georgetown – I hope you’ll be a part of it Tuesday afternoon.

Finally, please consider supporting or joining a Lombardi team for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, October 30 on the National Mall. Lombardi is a flagship sponsor this year, meaning we’ll have greater visibility and opportunity to get the Lombardi name in front of thousands of walkers. More importantly, this is a wonderful fundraising event to combat breast cancer. There are eight Lombardi teams that I know will make us proud. One in particular, GoPink DC led by Jane Crawford, is currently in third place out of more than 100 teams for fundraising in the entire DC region (at least as I write this). It’s not too late for others to catch up!

For more information on how to support or join a team, contact Lauren Wolkoff at  Or you can visit the Making Strides DC webpage and search for Lombardi teams.

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Oct 15 2010

A short week, but a busy one

by at 6:14 pm

I hope everyone has enjoyed their somewhat truncated work week. I must confess to having mixed work with pleasure on Monday when I participated in the Swing Fore the Cure golf tournament at Westfields Golf course in Clifton, Virginia. I was the guest of Mark Decker, one of our Lombardi Gala stalwarts. As always, golf won. However, I had a great time and a significant portion of the proceeds are directed to support Lombardi research.

On Wednesday, I spent much of the day at a planning meeting at NCI for next summer’s NCI translational science meeting. Harold Varmus has given John Griffin (Dana Farber) and Jennifer Grandis (Pitt) free license to come up with a new meeting structure to replace the old NCI SPORE meeting format. The new meeting looks like it will be quite innovative and interesting and I look forward to participating in the evolution of the meeting program. I was sorry to have to miss Mary Beth Martin’s research seminar on Wednesday.

Thursday was dominated by a very busy clinic, followed by a dinner held as part of the Bob Dickson lectureship series. I do hope you were able to attend John Hanover’s excellent presentation Friday in the Research Auditorium. It was a pleasure to see Bob Dickson’s wife Jane and their daughter. I continue to be amazed by the enduring impact Bob has had on Lombardi and the many people here who loved him.

Friday afternoon, I unveiled our new NCI core grant program designations at a meeting with many of our program leaders and associate directors. Our five programs will be: Breast Cancer; Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics; Cancer Biology; Cancer Control; and Carcinogenesis, Biomarkers and Epidemiology. I expect that the precise names may be tweaked and virtually all cancer center members will either stay in their current program or migrate to the obvious new program (i.e., Cancer Biology, Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics, etc).

We have a lot of work to do as we prepare for our next competitive CCSG submission period. I will announce our program leaders next week, and the program leaders will be charged with identifying the handful of high-priority scientific themes that will define their programs as we move forward. Program membership assignments will likely be completed within the next four to six weeks. You’ll be hearing much more about this process as we move forward.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Oct 08 2010

Taking Time for Family

by at 3:25 pm

Sadly, I don’t have much work-related news to report this week. Last Friday, Harriet and I were called to her mother’s bedside in the Philadelphia suburbs as she was finally losing a lengthy and harshly debilitating battle with Parkinson’s disease. She died peacefully on Sunday evening, with the family at her bedside. It was terribly sad, of course, and leaves everyone who loved her with a painful sense of loss mixed with a sense of relief that her suffering has ended. She was a terrific person, and she will be missed.

I had been planning to travel to Chicago last Sunday afternoon for the American Association of Cancer Institutes (AACI) meeting from Sunday through Tuesday. I was especially interested in attending the meeting because I was just elected to the AACI’s Board of Directors, and was looking forward to contributing to its efforts. However, there will be other meetings in the future, and I am glad that I canceled my trip to be with Harriet, her mother and the rest of our family.

I also had been looking forward to the Capital Breast Care Center’s (CBCC’s) annual Gift of Life Breakfast on Thursday morning. This event broke all of its prior fundraising records; these proceeds will go a long way towards supporting the CBCC’s important efforts in the DC community. Congratulations to Beth Beck (CBCC executive director), Susannah Fox (CBCC development director, who coordinated the event) and Peter Shields, and thanks to the Michelle Cross Fenty, president of CBCC’s Advisory Council for her unstinting efforts on behalf of the CBCC, and for facilitating what I understand to have been a wonderful reception for major donors at the British Embassy last Monday evening. 

Please also join me in congratulating Jeff Toretsky for receiving a substantial NCI Award using the RC4 ARRA funding mechanism. He received one of only two RC4 grants awarded by the NCI, and will use this support to accelerate the clinical development of an EWS-FLI1 inhibitor to treat Ewing’s sarcoma. Well done, Jeff!

As I write this message I am looking forward to the American Cancer Society Symposium on Friday, October 8 featuring young Lombardi investigators. I hope everyone has a good weekend and enjoys Columbus Day on Monday.

No responses yet | Categories: Events,Outreach,Uncategorized

Oct 01 2010

Some news to make us feel proud

by at 8:41 pm

This past week, the fifth floor of the Research Building got a bit brighter. If you haven’t been up in the past few days, you should come see the cheerful display of paintings outside Suite E501 done by Nevin Bossart, one of the Arts and Humanities Program’s most prominent art teachers. His vibrant depictions of flowers make the space feel more like home for me—and with good reason!  Harriet and I actually have one of Nevin’s works hanging in our home. It is a painting of a specific castle in Ireland. I decided I had to own this particular piece because I saw it hanging in the Lombardi lobby just about four days after I returned from a trip to Ireland, where I had visited the very same castle! Some things are just meant to be.

On Tuesday, the National Research Council released the Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs. Lombardi’s Tumor Biology Ph.D. program rated very highly — more to come on that. Congratulations to all who are involved for having your work recognized so prominently.
I appreciate the excellent turnout and lively interchange at last week’s Sector Meeting and Town Hall. We had quite a bit of important business to discuss, as you can see, and I look forward to keeping you updated through regular correspondence and conversation. I am sorry to have missed Craig Jordan’s first Research Seminar on Wednesday, but was representing Lombardi at the Georgetown University Executive Committee meeting all day.

Stay tuned for announcements regarding the official G-DOC launch this month. After all you have been hearing about this tremendous tool, you’ll have the opportunity to see it in action—and find out how it is relevant to your work—at our launch symposium on October 26, from 2-4 pm, in the New Research Building Auditorium.

I’m looking forward to welcoming October this weekend—always a beautiful month here. I hope you have a nice weekend as well!

No responses yet | Categories: Administration,Events,Outreach,Research