Archive for February, 2011


Feb 25 2011

A Blur of Activity

by at 10:53 pm

My week has been a blur of activity. Since I posted my last blog I’ve done almost nothing except work on getting the non-competing progress report for our CCSG renewal out the door. I have not been alone in this endeavor. In fact, this monumental task would not have been accomplished without the focus and dedication of Peter Shields and Ellen McLaughlin, among others. Ellen has been remarkably effective in pulling together the necessary complex array of information from various groups in the cancer center.

Although this effort has had fewer moving parts than our competitive renewal did in 2009, I must admit that I had an anniversary reaction as we scrambled to get everything done. This iteration, however, feels like a better product and was achieved more expertly this time around. It pays to have experience!

Thanks to everyone who contributed their pieces of this lengthy report, which total more than 400 pages. I sure hope someone on the other end at the NCI reads it!

As a reminder, the components of this progress report will form the basis of our presentation to our new External Advisory Board (EAB) when it convenes in late spring. We will likely need to revise and update some sections prior to that meeting, but it has been an invaluable experience to make this particular process more than just a pro forma exercise. I know that this process has helped refine my thinking about how we should be organizing our science and presenting our strengths.

On Wednesday morning, we had a C.O.R.E. sector meeting with Howard Federoff and his administrative team, at which we discussed a financial plan for the next four years for the Medical Center. This plan appears to have realistic projections and assumptions, which is of course reassuring.

Interestingly, this plan foresees significant revenues from NHS’ online nursing degree program, which was recently approved and will be starting in collaboration with 2tor, a provider of online educational technology services. I hope this program exceeds all expectations that have been set for it. Congratulations to NHS Dean Julie DeLoia and her colleagues for getting this exciting initiative off the ground.

This Sunday I will fly out to San Diego for the Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP) meeting, which all U54 grant holders are encouraged to attend. I can only stay through Monday afternoon, so I’ll be spending basically as much time on an airplane as I will in San Diego. While I am sure it will be a very interesting meeting, I am only going at the urging of Bob Clarke. Bob promised to take me golfing at some undetermined date in the future as compensation for my making this odyssey. However, since Bob doesn’t play golf, I have to view his offer with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Bob, I hear the Ballybunion is a wonderful course. I’ll buy the Irish Whisky.

That’s all for now.

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Feb 21 2011

A Week of Positive Meetings and Momentum

by at 7:00 pm

Sorry to be late with this entry, but I spent all Friday at the Cancer Center Directors’ Retreat at NCI. Harold Varmus was a very engaged participant and it is clear that recognizes the importance of cancer centers to the national effort. It is also clear that he will hold us all to high standards of scientific achievement. That’s OK by me.

There was a lot to talk about last week, so I wanted to make the time to make a late blog entry.  On Tuesday evening we had a Georgetown Lombardi reception to celebrate Sandy Swain’s election as president-elect of ASCO beginning in 2012. It was a wonderful opportunity to honor Sandy and to celebrate with our colleagues from Georgetown University Hospital, Washington Hospital Center and MedStar.  This is an important accomplishment for Sandy, and we are proud of her.

Wednesday evening was the MedStar clinical meeting, at which we discussed ways to prioritize clinical investments. We’re making important progress in that the areas of clinical and basic research strength are certain to be high priorities for investment and expansion.

I was also pleased last week to meet with Yu Shyr, who—as I’ve previously announced—will be joining us July 1 as the new chair of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics (DBBB), director of Lombardi’s Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Shared Resource and as founding associate director for quantitative biology. Yu will be visiting regularly between now and his start date. Hopefully he’ll have an opportunity to meet many of you in the coming months. He is full of great ideas and energy, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be joining our team.  He is already involved in at least four projects with Georgetown investigators, and is looking for even more collaborations.

I hope you had had a restful holiday weekend!

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Feb 13 2011

A Week Full of University-Wide Activities

by at 12:53 am

The week started out on a high note with last Monday’s Town Hall meeting, which I hope those of you who attended found useful and informative. For those who missed it but are interested in what we discussed, you can find my slides on LombardiNet.

On Tuesday, I participated in the clinical chair session of the LCME site visit for the School of Medicine, even though I informed Dean Mitchell that I’m a basic science chair! Nonetheless, it was a good chance to see some of my fellow chairs with whom I wouldn’t normally interact. From what I gather, the site visit went well and we hope to receive a favorable report. Combined with the fact that Georgetown remains highly ranked according to the Carnegie Foundation, this is shaping up to be a good stretch of accreditation for all of us.

This week was also busy with several board of directors activities, including COMCA and a lovely reception on Wednesday, the general board meeting on Thursday morning and a dinner for the board and University leadership Thursday evening.  I am pleased to report that the board of directors approved our leasing of space at 1000 New Jersey Avenue SE to support the community activities of Lucile Adams-Campbell’s program. This should be an enormous boost to the great work of Lucile and her team in conducting community-based participatory research.

At the board meeting we had the unique opportunity to hear from Charlie Deacon, who has been the dean of undergraduate admissions since 1970. He described admissions trends across all campuses, including the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies. The overall picture is that Georgetown remains a highly desirable and competitive choice—at least if the exceptional qualifications of the more than 1000 students who have already received acceptance letters to our undergraduate schools are any indication.

Thursday evening’s dinner was highlighted by an interesting question and answer session with the Ambassador of India to the United States, Meera Shankar. This experience was enhanced by the fact that I sat next to Victor Cha, who directs Georgetown’s Asian Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service. Victor took leave from the University from 2004 to 2007 to work as a director for Asian Affairs at the White House and the National Security Council.

Not surprisingly, he has some remarkable stories about his visits to North and South Korea and China. I thought I knew something about this part of the world, but this guy is truly amazing. As I talked with him, I was reminded at how diverse Georgetown is, and that we work with some incredibly talented and brilliant people.

Right in the midst of the board of directors activities, on Wednesday immediately after COMCA, I helped welcome a team of federal auditors who came in to look at our space utilization in support of our applications for recovery of indirect cost rates. This may not sound as interesting as some other activities this week, but it is an essential benchmark in establishing that we are fulfilling our mission as a cancer center by using our research space wisely and appropriately. I’d like to thank everyone who came in contact with the auditors for their time and gracious attitudes.

I also had the chance this week to sit down with George Philips, who recently came on board at Georgetown Lombardi from the Vermont Cancer Center. George and I discussed a variety of clinical trial opportunities, and as he said in his comments at the Town Hall, he is looking forward to quickly engaging as a highly collaborate researcher here. So if you see George wander by in the halls, please welcome him. Also if you are looking for opportunities to collaborate on genitourinary malignancies, please let him know. His email is

Finally, on Friday I was unable to attend the Program Leaders meeting because I was hosting a delegation from Geisinger Health System, facilitated by our friend Andy Deubler, who used to work in the EVP’s office. This was a great meeting, as we determined we have a number of shared interests and some real opportunities for partnering. Geisinger has an enormous patient population, meticulously documented by its electronic health records, and a huge biorepository of samples that could be a great resource for population-based research.

As you can see, it was a busy week! On Sunday, Harriet and I will attend the Georgetown-Marquette basketball game, where we’ll support the Georgetown Lombardi/CBCC team for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The team will have a sign-up table, and there will be announcements made about our fundraising efforts–if you’re at the game stop by!

To close, I’d like to congratulate the Georgetown University Hospital Oncology Infusion Unit for a recent accomplishment. These nurses were recognized by the Oncology Nursing Certificate Corporation for clinical excellence in achieving an oncology certification rate of over 50% of eligible nurses. What a great reminder of the outstanding clinical care provided by GUH and MedStar Health – we should all take pride when our colleagues are honored.

That is all for this post. Enjoy your weekend, and happy Valentine’s Day!

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