Archive for November, 2010


Nov 28 2010

A Great Year for the Lombardi Gala

by at 10:34 pm

I hope everyone has enjoyed a restful holiday weekend.  Last week was a short and quiet week, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you on the outcome of the 2010 Lombardi Gala.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this year’s Gala was a wonderful event – we had more than 1,000 guests come out to celebrate.  While donations are still trickling in, I am thrilled to report that we have raised more than $915,000 to date.

This represents a 22% increase over last year and I am very pleased to see that the fundraising environment seems to be improving as we hopefully emerge from the economic crisis. Our auction, which had so many terrific donated items, brought in $200,000.  I can say that my Eagles-Redskins tickets were well worth what I bid on them—despite the torrential rains.  I’d be lying if I said the decisive outcome of the game had nothing to do with my enjoyment.

The hottest attraction this year, however, was by far the Lexus raffle. We sold 725 tickets at $100 each, for a total of $72,500.  This was our best year ever for this raffle, and it’s heartening to see that so many people were able to participate.

Thank you again to Elena Jeannotte and her team in Advancement for their tireless work in making the Gala a success, and to all the volunteers who donated their time.

I hope everyone has a great week!

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Nov 20 2010

A triumph on the field, a great week for Lombardi

by at 12:47 am

The non-work related highlight of my week was last Monday night. Having successfully bid on two tickets at the Lombardi Gala for the Monday Night Football game between the Redskins and my beloved Eagles, I took one of my sons to the game. We left my house at 6:30 pm, got to Route 202 by about 7:15 pm, and then crawled for about 90 minutes, getting to the FedEx Field parking lot just in time for the kickoff at 8:40. It could have been a more frustrating experience, but I don’t see how.  By the time we made it into the stadium the Eagles were up by 14 points, and I was sure that they would be shut out the rest of the game. Little did I know what was in store for us. As luck would have it we were surrounded by Eagles fans, so it felt like a home game, but without the brawls. Plus, the seats were very good! The points just poured down, as did the rain. By halftime the score was 45-14, we were soaked through and through, and even though we were very happy with the outcome, we decided we’d had enough fun for one evening. We got back to the house in time to watch the fourth quarter. I should be dry any day now.

So, you might think that nothing at work could possibly compare with the chance to see this once-in-a-lifetime performance by my boys in green. However, we have a lot of good things going on in my lab, and I am so pleased that I had the good sense to continue doing the things I love—doing research and seeing patients—when I accepted the job as cancer center director. My days can be so incredibly interesting and rewarding. For example, yesterday started with a meeting that was led by Marc Schwartz and attended by the Hematology/Oncology fellows. This was followed by a meeting with one of my graduate students to review her research progress. I then met with Bob Clarke, where we talked about a few administrative things, but then had an actual discussion about collaboration that centered on new research directions. After that, I saw patients in clinic; this humbling experience always reminds me of the ultimate targets of everything we do.

I hurried from clinic to a late afternoon meeting regarding my expanding responsibilities over Lombardi’s clinical activities. Finally, Harriet and I drove to a restaurant for a dinner recognizing the remarkable contributions of the Fisher Foundation over the years to so many of our efforts. This Foundation has supported a research professorship for Anna Riegel, the Jess and Mildred Fisher Center for Familial Cancer Research and the Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program. Having reviewed the progress report we recently sent to the Foundation’s trustees, I can assure you that, not only have we abided by and exceeded the donors’ intent, but we have truly leveraged these gifts to promote many important Lombardi activities. We should all be grateful to Carol Pribulka of the Office of Advancement for her attentive and expert stewardship of the Foundation, and I certainly look forward to the continuation of all the great work that is supported by these gifts.

That’s all for now.  Have a great weekend. I hope that both the Eagles and ‘Skins win their games.

Our seats were better than this picture at the Eagles/Redskins game last week.

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Nov 12 2010

Connecting Lombardi with the Community

by at 9:51 am

I hope everyone is enjoying the perfect fall weather this week.  I’ve been pretty busy, starting with last Saturday. In the morning, I participated in a really interesting and useful symposium for GI cancer patients and their families sponsored by the Ruesch Center.  I tried to put some of the research I do into a context that makes sense for the lay public. On a related note, I drove up to Philadelphia last Monday afternoon; I was invited to speak at the high school our sons attended to discuss my research interests and career in oncology. I really enjoy doing these types of talks, and feel physicians and scientists should spend more time engaging the public.  After all, when all is said and done, our patients and the taxpayers are our major constituencies. We really should be making common cause with them.

The Lombardi Gala was on Saturday evening, and I think it was a terrific success. There were more than 1,000 attendees, and while we are still awaiting the final tally, I know that we raised a lot of money, too. This year marked the return of some Redskins greats, and their participation really enlivened the event. We had to the opportunity to honor John Potter to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Lombardi’s founding, and I hope it was as special for him as it was for all of us. I sat with Vince Lombardi, Jr. (the coach’s grandson), and asked him for his interpretation of the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Vince, Jr. is not sure his grandfather ever actually said that (the message does not stand up to linguistic analysis very well) but agrees that it was adopted by Coach Lombardi and interpreted to mean that winning is a byproduct of maximum effort and commitment. I think we can all relate to that concept. At any rate, in my brief remarks I did my own interpretation: “Beating cancer is our only thing.”

The Silent Auction was huge this year, and I successfully bid on two tickets for this Monday night’s football game between the Redskins and some team from Philadelphia. I ended up overpaying for the tickets because a certain former Lombardi Interim Director (in this case TD does not stand for Touchdown!) wanted to be sure Lombardi got as much money as possible from the auction, and bid against me to drive up the winning price. I am plotting my revenge, though. I am deeply grateful to Elena Jeannotte and all of the members of Lombardi’s Development team who were simply magnificent. They reflect well on all of us, and the funds they help raise are critically important to supporting our research mission.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Clinton Finch, database manager for the Cancer Control Program, for being awarded this year’s Information Security Recognition Award by the University Information Security Office (UISO).  This award was established in 2008 to recognize faculty and staff from across Georgetown who go above and beyond the call of duty to foster cybersecurity. We’re proud that this year’s awardee was one of our own!

Have a nice weekend.

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Nov 05 2010

Lombardi Making Strides

by at 11:51 am

The last two weeks have been very interesting. The formal rollout of the G-DOC last week represented a real milestone for me, and for everyone associated with this wonderful endeavor. I first began thinking about an integrated clinical and molecular database about a decade ago, but was never able to get traction for the idea until I came to Georgetown. I have learned so much, and have been lucky to work with so many wonderful people who have made this project come to life. I am especially grateful to Subha Madhavan for her tireless efforts that have created a truly unique resource. I can’t wait to see how the G-DOC evolves over the next few years, and look forward to using it for several interesting projects myself.

I spent much of Thursday afternoon at the Ruesch Center Symposium. John Marshall assembled a very interesting mix of speakers, all of whom focused in one way or another on the promise and challenges of personalized medicine. One of the Ruesch Center’s unique perspectives relates to policy and ethics. Louis Jacques offered the Medicare/CMS perspective, while Andrew von Eschenbach, who headed both the NCI and the FDA in the previous administration, discussed how the changing political landscape will affect cancer care and drug development. After his keynote presentation I had a chance to chat with him for a while, and he clearly feels that we all will need to rethink how we do research in order to accommodate to the ever-changing economic and political landscapes. It was a most stimulating afternoon, and it is evident that the Ruesch Center, under John’s visionary guidance, is evolving into the multi-dimensional force that was envisioned when Jeanne Ruesch helped John establish the center last year. Congratulations, John, and thank you, Jeanne for all you do.

Saturday night is our annual Gala, where we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Lombardi’s establishment and honor John Potter, whose founding vision sustains us to this day. We will have more than 1,000 attendees, and are on pace to far exceed the amount of money that was raised last year. I can’t believe that this is my fourth Gala; I attended the 2007 Gala after I had accepted the job as Director, but before I actually started. Even though it should be old hat for me by now, the Gala is still a very exciting event and I very much look forward to it.

Have a great weekend, and remember to turn your clocks back one hour on Saturday night!

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