Archive for November, 2011


Nov 23 2011

Fighting a Smarter War Against Cancer Symposium

by at 6:55 pm

So, this was a short week, and as I write this Wednesday many of us are scattering to the four winds to spend time with family to celebrate Thanksgiving. I do want to wish everybody a happy holiday weekend. Enjoy your post-prandial tryptophan induced comas, and be safe if you are traveling.

Also, I encourage you to attend at least part of the Ruesch Center’s three-day symposium, “Fighting a Smarter War Against Cancer: Linking Policy to the Patient.” December 1-3. John Marshall has put together a stellar roster of speakers and you won’t want to miss the discussion on health care reform and defining the value of cancer medicines.

Thursday will be held here at the Business School and Friday will be at the Law Center. On Saturday morning there will be a patient symposium with many of our Lombardi colleagues presenting. This is the type of event we should all be proud of and I commend John for pulling this together.

Enjoy the weekend.

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Nov 19 2011

A Welcome Return to Routine

by at 8:53 am

I hope everyone had a good and productive week. This week’s blog will relatively brief. I finally had a week without off-site meetings and dinners. It was nice to have a predictable schedule! This reprieve was made possible because I decided to cancel a planned trip to San Francisco to attend the EORTC-AACR Molecular Targets meeting from Sunday through Tuesday. I regret missing the meeting, but I made the right decision. As I am a member of the AACR Finance Committee, and the meeting was held in San Francisco for most of Monday, I spent much of that day on the phone, linked into the meeting. However, I was able to pull away and see a patient who needed urgent attention and admission to the hospital. And, being home made it possible for me to take Harriet out to dinner for her birthday.

The rest of the week was dominated by a series of meetings. However, on Wednesday I gave a brief talk to the Tumor Biology students about my lab’s work, and really enjoyed the chance to interact with them. I also interviewed two candidates for the position of Chief of Surgical Oncology; they were here for second visits through a search process organized by Lynt Johnson, the chairman of Surgical Oncology. Both candidates are both terrific and either would do a great job.

Thursday consisted of a series of morning meetings, including my lab meeting, followed by a very busy afternoon clinic; unfortunately, because the clinic ran late I was unable to attend the Sarah Stewart lecture given by Craig Jordan Thursday afternoon.

Friday I had the pleasure of meeting Hartmut (Hucky) Land, the noon seminar speaker, and then attended his interesting seminar.

For all Georgetown Lombardi faculty, don’t forget about Monday’s faculty meeting in Warwick Evans at noon this coming Monday, Nov. 21. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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Nov 11 2011

Reflections on Paterno: “What’s Right is Right”

by at 3:01 pm

As I write this blog, I am saddened by the ongoing debacle involving Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program. I grew up watching Penn State football; my father graduated from there, and we spent countless autumn Saturday afternoons during my childhood watching games on TV. Even today, we are always on the phone or texting each other about the games. And during all of this, Joe Paterno has been part of the conversation; he is only a couple of weeks older than my father, who has reveled in Joe’s seeming indestructibility. Five years ago, my brother and I helped my father celebrate his birthday with a trip to Happy Valley to watch a Penn State game and stay at an inn partially owned by Paterno. My dad showed us the sights, including the hotel where he and our mother spent their wedding night. JoePa has been an unofficial member of the family forever.

He always has seemed to represent a fading ideal of honor and accountability, possessed of a magical ability to mix academic pursuits with the seemingly dirty business of big time college sports without degrading the University, its students, and its ideals. Obviously, all of these perspectives have been turned upside-down. While many details remain to be determined regarding the rapidly evolving story of an assistant coach’s alleged sexual predation and apparent cover-up by Paterno and other university leaders, Paterno is, at the very least, responsible for astonishingly poor judgment.

So, why write about this “current event”  in this week’s blog? I do so because bad things can happen to good universities. No institution can assure that one of its employees or students will not commit a heinous offense, but it can take steps to minimize the risks and effectively respond when confronted with evidence, no matter how painful or embarrassing the outcomes may be. I am proud to work at a University where a cover-up is frankly unthinkable, as a culture of accountability permeates Georgetown and its senior leadership. Moreover, cover ups never work, and always seem to snowball — think Watergate, Anthony Weiner, and virtually every other political scandal of the past fifty years.

I am fortunate that during my tenure as Lombardi’s Director our culture has been strong enough to minimize serious ethical violations of academic integrity. However, the Penn State tragedy reinforces the essential truth that we all have moral obligations to ourselves, to the University and to the broader society to forthrightly address improprieties if we find them, without consideration of the downstream consequences. We have a number of resources available to support our faculty and staff should the need arise. But most of all, we all must remember a simple truth that I learned from my mother (who never watched a single minute of football in her whole life) – what’s right is right.

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Nov 06 2011

A Silver Celebration

by at 10:07 pm

I hope everybody has enjoyed this crisp autumn weekend. I am writing this blog on Sunday, the day after the 25th Lombardi Gala– our silver anniversary! It was a wonderful evening, with about 950 attendees. Harriet and I had the pleasure of sitting with Vince and Janet Papale. Vince, a colon cancer survivor, was the subject of the 2006 film, “Invincible”; he was the oldest rookie in NFL history when he made the Philadelphia Eagles following an open tryout. Though the movie has massive factual inaccuracies – Vince calls it the difference between “real” and “reel” – his true story is nonetheless inspiring.

Vince was the recipient of a Courage Award at a previous Lombardi Gala (before I got here, so the Philly connection precedes me), and accepted our invitation for this year’s event, where he and his wife sat next to another Vince– Vince Lombardi, Jr., grandson of the coach and his wife, Sally Sue. We had a great time with all of them.

The Gala appears to have been a great success, though we still await the final tally. Funds from the Gala support many of our initiatives, so it is great to see that it remains so vibrant. Kudos to Elena Jeanotte and her team in Advancement for doing such a masterful job in organizing the event.

Last week my week was dominated by a site visit of a NCI intramural program. It is quite clear that the budgetary pain suffered by the extramural community is being shared within the intramural program.

Friday we had a Lombardi Town Hall meeting, where we had a packed schedule of administrative and scientific updates. For those who missed it, the slides from the meeting can be found on the Lombardi Intranet. I was a bit disappointed by the low turnout, however. We go to great lengths to make Town Halls informative and useful. Perhaps the lesson here is that Friday afternoons are not optimal for these activities. If there are other reasons, please let us know.

Have a great week.

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