Archive for August, 2011


Aug 26 2011

Guest Blogger: The Amazing Sum of Our Parts

by at 8:43 am

When Lou Weiner asked me to be the faculty coordinator of our next competitive CCSG application, I knew what I was getting into. In 2002, I worked with Drs. Cullen, Dickson and Pestell in this role.  This time around, I will be working in a team with Lou, Steve Byers and Ellen McLaughlin.

With our application date set for May 2013, we have jumped right into planning. Our first steps have been to meet individually with the leaders of each CCSG component: programs; cross-cutting initiatives; shared resources; clinical activities; and administration. We are reviewing the CCSG requirements and identifying areas that need attention. While cancer-focused, high-impact research and investigator-initiated clinical trials are high priorities, we are also tasked to demonstrate that Georgetown Lombardi is more than a sum of its individual components.

It reminds me of pointillist paintings like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat where individual dots of paint form an amazing picture. So how do we show our amazing picture to the reviewers? Joint publications and multi-investigator grants provide examples of how our investigators work together to tackle complex problems in cancer.

The support of the Cancer Center and the University in the form of shared resources and pilot funding to our individual research programs demonstrates how this environment helps everyone succeed. Georgetown Lombardi has recently asked the faculty to update their publications so we can document our research activities, show interactions among investigators, and demonstrate use of the shared resources.

I want to thank all of you who have provided this information to your program specialists.  For those who have not, please send those updates soon.  There is a lot of information that we need to collect and collate before May 2013 and we will be doing that throughout the following months with your help. It will take all of us to paint our picture.  I am looking forward to its unveiling in May 2013!

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Aug 12 2011

Tumor Targets and Baseball

by at 5:59 pm

I can’t believe how quickly the summer is passing. This has been another busy week, as I try to pull together a U01 grant on identifying new tumor targets.

I spent all day Wednesday and part of Thursday in Rockville at a NCI NExT oversight committee meeting, reviewing proposals for the development of new drugs using NCI resources. It was very interesting. On my way back from the meeting I received a call from Karen Mallet, who handles media for the medical center, asking if I was available for an interview by WUSA 9 on the 11 o’clock news to discuss a New England Journal of Medicine paper by David Porter, Carl June and colleagues at Penn regarding a new approach to the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. They transduced autologous T cells with an anti-CD19 antibody fragment and with a co-stimulatory molecule and observed remarkable anti-tumor responses in a patient with very advanced disease.

I know Carl pretty well, and was pleased to have a chance to put the work in perspective for the viewers. What made this interesting was that I had the choice of being interviewed in the studio live, or being taped at home. So, I chose the latter, since it was late and I didn’t want to be up all night with a big day planned for Thursday. So, at around 7 pm the crew showed up at our house. I tossed on a tie and jacket (no, I was not wearing a T-shirt and shorts), and they positioned me in front of our family room TV to provide a dark background for the interview. Now, that was different!

I am looking forward to this weekend. I have to continue working on that grant but Harriet and I will be in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon to watch the Phillies play the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park (if the game is not postponed by rain). The energy at the “Bank” is unbelievable; every game is a raucous sellout. More importantly, it will be the first baseball game I’ve watched live with my father since about 1964, when we went to a game in Philly’s old Connie Mack Stadium. Since then, we’ve watched countless games together on TV, but this will be special for me. It will be even more special because our oldest son Ken will be with us – a three-generation event!

Then, next Friday, I’ll be at Nationals Park to watch the same teams play in DC – with our younger son, David. Back in May, our daughter Elana, her husband Ben and our grandson Isaac treated Harriet and me to a Phillies-Nationals game at Nationals Park. It was Isaac’s first live baseball game (and first exposure to ice cream) and another three-generation event! The Phils won the game in May, and I am rooting for them to complete the trifecta over the next week or so. I do root for the Nationals when they play any other team, by the way.

Finally, after 20 years, the administrative suite is getting a bit of a facelift – paint, new carpets, and a general sprucing up. So, the offices will be closed for a few days to get the work done on Thursday, August 18, Friday, August 19 and Tuesday, August 23. Please keep that in mind if you need any signatures.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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Aug 07 2011

Making Progress on Various Fronts

by at 11:32 pm

I hope you had a good weekend, and were able to dance between the raindrops. Last week was surprisingly busy in this usually sleepy summer season. On Monday, I had a planning meeting for a U01 in new target identification that I am submitting with Subha Madhavan, Milt Brown and others.

I also met with Joy Drass to discuss our ongoing work with MedStar Health. The cancer network is taking shape nicely, and there are many encouraging developments around our collaboration. I hope to provide everyone with a more formal update at the end of the summer. These collaborations extend beyond clinical care and encompass clinical research, development, marketing and communications. It’s an exciting time. Continuing this theme, I had a very productive conference call on Tuesday morning with Linda Winger, Pete Monge (President of Montgomery General Hospital) and John Deeken about our growing efforts at that site.

After filming a video Tuesday afternoon for the Capital Breast Care Center’s upcoming “Gift of Life” fundraising breakfast, scheduled for October 13, I capped the day by going to dinner with a candidate for the position of Chief of Surgical Oncology. Lynt Johnson, who chairs the Department of Surgery, is leading that search. Remarkably, I learned at dinner that the candidate had trained at Temple University, and one of his children was a student at Cheltenham Elementary School (just outside of Philadelphia), where Harriet was his art teacher. Small world!

Wednesday was highlighted by that evening’s Lombardi Gala Committee reception at the home of Vic and Biani Seested. Other Lombardi representatives included Shawna Willey, Claudine Isaacs, John Marshall, Todd Waldman and Jeanne Mandelblatt. We had a wonderful time, and were of course very appreciative of the support we receive from the committee. Importantly, we not only saw old friends, but also met many new supporters who have joined the committee. However, two late nights in a row are never easy.

Thursday was a clinic day, and even though the day ended by 6 pm, I was ready for some down time. So, after a Friday morning breakfast meeting with a candidate for a major position at Childrens National Medical Center (he is an immunologist, and would be invited to join Lombardi), I joined Tod Greene for our yearly round of golf at Renditions, in Maryland. Tod is a much better golfer than I am, but although neither of us played well that day, I somehow beat him by one stroke when I sank a four-foot knee-knockeer on the final hole. While Tod denies it, I am convinced he let me beat him, because there is no other way that could happen in this particular space: time continuum. Thanks, Tod. But, don’t think that means I’ll root for the Redskins when they play the Eagles!

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