Archive for June, 2013


Jun 30 2013

Striving for a Global Impact

by at 9:39 pm

Happy Sunday! I have had a mostly non-vehicular, DC-based weekend following a pretty intense week. Harriet was involved in organizing, hanging and participating in an art show at Brookside Gardens this weekend, so I was on my own for half of Saturday and most of Sunday. I filled the hours with work, but stole a couple of hours on Saturday to play 9 holes of golf (poorly) with Harriet and our son David at East Potomac golf course in DC. And, on Saturday night Harriet and I grabbed a quick sandwich at Taylor Gourmet in Bethesda (which serves excellent Philly-style hoagies and similar fare) and then saw Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing at Bethesda Row Cinemas. It was a lot of fun, though I think that Hero (the woman wrongly accused of being a hussy) was a dope to accept Claudio’s apologies after he publicly humiliated her on the altar. It is not a great moment for gender equality, in my opinion. Nonetheless, it is always remarkable to witness the timelessness of great art, even after it is modified and reinterpreted for new generations, centuries and millenia.

I spent last Sunday and Monday at the GU Executive Committee Retreat at a hotel in Charlottesville, but had to leave at noon to drive back to DC to participate in the annual Men’s Event to benefit Lombardi at the Capital Grille in Chevy Chase. Paul Schweitzer led the effort, assisted by an able Organizing Committee and by Daphne Baker of the National Cancer Prevention Fund and our own Elena Jeannotte. It was very well attended. DeMaurice Smith filled in at the last minute as Master of Ceremonies for Leon Harris, who was ill and could not make the event. Beppe Giaccone and Sean Collins joined me in the Cancer Update for many of the attendees, one of whom was Oliver North.

The other highlight of the week was my visit to the Law Center to meet with Lawrence Gostin, Oscar Cabrera, and Benn McGrady from the O’Neill Institute. Larry is one of the world’s leading legal authorities on global health, and is currently working to emphasize non-communicable diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes as evolving threats in the developing world. He, Oscar and Benn all focus on tobacco control, and there are numerous potential synergies between their work, which focuses on how laws can influence health, with Lombardi’s efforts, many of which are in collaboration with the American Legacy Foundation and focus on providing an evidence basis for policy determinations. Benn was kind enough to give me an example of how policy and legal efforts can influence health related behaviors. The attached photo shows Benn with four Australian cigarette boxes, each of which graphically portrays a downside of smoking. He was kind enough to give me one of the boxes, which is now in my office. I have invited Larry, Oscar and Benn to give presentations at our Seminar Series, and to meet with individuals who may have intersecting interests. This is an example of how Lombardi might benefit from Georgetown’s unique strengths to increase its global impact. Stay tuned for more updates!

Have a great week.


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Jun 23 2013

Another Busy Week

by at 8:13 am

Greetings from Charlottesville, where the GU Executive Committee is meeting for three days. I have to leave at noon tomorrow to drive back to DC for Lombardi’s Men’s Event, which is a very significant fundraiser, and then I turn around and drive back to Charlottesville early Tuesday morning for the rest of the retreat. At least it is a pretty drive! And, I always learn interesting things about the GU at these retreats.

Last week was unusually packed with meetings, fundraising activities and I seemed to get home no earlier than about 9 pm every night but Wednesday. For example, I went from a 6 pm talk at the CBCC Summer Celebration at the Arena Stage directly to a MedStar Georgetown Cancer Network dinner meeting in Georgetown on Tuesday night.

At least I got a bit of possible good news, when I learned that my R01 competitive renewal was scored in possible funding range that once would have been an absolute “slam dunk”. However, since we don’t know what the payline will be, I now get to submit a JIT, and then wait. This sure is a tough time for research. On balance, I am reassured to know that my work is still considered to be competitive.

This coming week may not be as jam packed, though I have to prepare for two separate study sections, and continue to work on my talks for the CCSG site visit. So, I will have plenty of work to do!

Have a great week.


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Jun 16 2013

See you next week!

by at 9:26 pm

Please return next week for a new blog post.

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Jun 09 2013

A New Era and Saying Goodbye

by at 9:27 pm

I hope you had a great weekend. Ours started with me in Pittsburgh, where I was a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s Head and Neck Cancer SPORE external advisory committee. It was really interesting, and gave me some interesting insights into how to put together multi-investigator proposals. While there we reminisced about Ron Herberman, the founding Director of their Cancer Center. Ron, a true giant in immunology who pioneered the study of natural killer cells. Ron, who stepped down as Cancer Center Director five years ago, died unexpectedly last week. He certainly will be missed by all of us who had the privilege of knowing him.

I was planning to fly home¬†on Friday¬†night so we could drive up to Philly to visit our kids. But, with bad weather looming, I switched to a Southwest flight to Baltimore, and met Harriet there. We spent the night at our daughter’s house, visiting with her, our son-in-law Ben and Isaac. We then all caravaned up to Ken and Sarah’s house, and had a family dinner there. Ella is doing very well, and so is Sarah, though I can’t figure out how she can juggle medical school with being a new mother. I get tired just thinking about it.

The preceding two weeks have been quite busy. The annual ASCO meetings were very busy, and exciting for those of us (here I refer primarily to Mike Atkins) who have devoted our careers to immunotherapy. Most notably, Jed Wolchok from Memorial Sloan Kettering presented astonishing results showing that combined therapy with antibodies inhibiting CTLA4 and PD-1 cause major anti-tumor clinical responses in patients with advanced melanoma. There is no doubt that we are firmly in a new era where manipulation of immune responses will be an essential component of effective anti-cancer therapy. And, we will not only be a part of it, but will be helping to lead the way. I know that Ron Herberman would have loved to be a part of this ongoing sea change, but his work helped to make this new world possible.

On the CCSG front, I am now working on my site visit presentations. They are not easy to do well, but I think I am making progress. More to follow on that as we draw closer to October 3.


Have a great week.


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