Archive for November, 2013


Nov 25 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

by at 6:26 am

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Nov 17 2013

Another Week Goes By

by at 3:27 pm

The past week was highlighted by my first meeting as Chair of the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology. I have been on the Board for over a year, but transitioning to the role of Chair was a significant challenge at a time of shrinking resources to support research. The intramural programs face all the problems we do in the extramural community and the deliberations were complicated, thoughtful, and in some cases painful. However, the more I learn about the Intramural Program the more respect I have for the very important and impactful work being done, and I am honored to help preserve its mission and functionality.

Another highlight for me was on Wednesday, when we hosted Professor Larry Gostin from the O’Neill Institute and Law Center to discuss his perspectives on the global pandemic of non-infectious diseases. We have identified some exciting joint initiatives we can pursue in the area of tobacco control, among others. Stay tuned for more updates! Just prior to his meeting I gave a talk for the Tumor Biology students regarding work being done in my lab, and as always, I enjoyed it very much.

After a busy Thursday highlighted by my afternoon clinic, I took Harriet out for her birthday at a little Italian restaurant, Ristorante Piccolo, in Georgetown. It was a lovely and, for DC, quiet spot and we had a very nice meal as well. The next morning started with a taxi drive to the Brookings Institution, where I participated on a panel led by Mark McClelland, the former head of Medicare CMS and the FDA, discussing pharmacovigilance in the development of biological agents to treat human diseases. As perhaps the only person in the room who actually sees patients, I was able to provide some real-world perspectives on just how much information can be expected from providers to learn about the toxicities caused by drugs on the market. I had to scoot back to the campus for the Rennert Memorial Lecture, and then had a pretty busy afternoon.

On Saturday, Harriet and I had dinner with a very old friend we had not seen in a decade. He was in town for an AMA meeting from his home outside Boston. He and I were medical school classmates and our families had grown up together, but life got in the way and we had drifted apart. Well, within about two minutes it was if the ten years had melted away, leaving behind a frosting of white on our hair that covered many layers of mutual warm and shared memories. There is something special about having friends who know and remember your parents, siblings, children and the little but precious events in your life. At the end of it all, that is what we remember, and it really matters a lot.

We sure won’t wait another 10 years before seeing each other again. However, you can be sure you’ll have a chance to read my blog next week!


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Nov 10 2013

A Blur of a Week

by at 8:52 pm

This past week was a blur. Sunday was a full recovery day after our very successful and exciting annual Lombardi Gala. After a busy Monday morning I headed to Dulles Airport to board a plane for Vienna, Austria to visit the University Hospital there, which aims to create a US NCI-style Comprehensive Cancer Center. I was one of a handful of external experts advising them in their efforts. The flight was uneventful, but sleeping in tight quarters is never easy for me. I landed early Tuesday morning and made my way to the hotel, where I caught a few hours of sleep. After waking up I stumbled through Vienna to its major art museum, where I marveled at the Lucien Freud exhibit, which was juxtaposed with magnificent Caravaggios, Dürers and Breughels. I made it back to the hotel in time to recharge my cell phone battery, and then went to a local restaurant for some schnitzel, beer, and a strudel. Then it was time to go back to the hotel, check my emails and collapse in a heap.

The next day was devoted to reviewing the cancer center’s efforts. We take our CCSG infrastructure for granted, but this was an object lesson in the value of creating enabling functions that help our work. The folks in Vienna do great science and have a robust clinical and clinical research enterprise, but it will take years for them to support science the way we do it here at Lombardi.

I flew back the next day, and forced myself to stay awake to watch the Redskins play Minnesota on Thursday night football. After a full day of work on Friday, which included a morning make-up clinic, we had a quiet weekend that allowed me to recover from the effects of jet lag, highlighted by a visit to Baltimore to have dinner with Isaac on Saturday night.

I plan to start re-rehearsing my talk for the December 9 CCSG site visit, and look forward to chairing this Tuesday’s NCI Board of Scientific Counselor’s meeting. It is an important responsibility, and I am pleased and honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the national cancer effort through this activity.

Have a great week.


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Nov 03 2013

Fun with a Purpose at the 27th Annual Lombardi Gala

by at 8:39 pm

What a weekend! On Saturday night we held the 27th annual Lombardi Gala. It was a marvelous event. Our notable attendees included Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Richard Provencher. (more about him later). The Gala Co-Chairs, Paul Schweitzer, Jill Kilpatrick and Brian Katz did an unbelievable job in mobilizing our volunteers, organizing the most spectacular silent auction I have ever seen. The Georgetown team, led by the extraordinary Elena Jeannotte and the wonderful Patton Carrington, orchestrated the whole event with the help of a small army of volunteers. We had more than 1000 attendees, raised a whole bunch of money, and had a lot of fun.

We had a great program, highlighted by presentations from our Margaret Hodges awardee, Ellen Terry, Vince Lombardi II, and from the NFL Players Association Awardee, Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals. Larry could not be there due to a conflicting team obligation, but the award was accepted on his behalf by Cris Carter, a current ESPN analyst, NFL Hall of Famer, and an all time great receiver. He gave a wonderful speech, and was then followed by DeMaurice Smith, a fabulous speaker, who then introduced Doug WIlliams, who led the Redskins to a Super Bowl victory. Coach Lombardi would have been proud. And, he would have been proud of what our cancer center has accomplished, too!

Jack DeGoia, Howard Federoff and I also spoke during the Program. My remarks were about how important it is to give back if we are to eliminate cancer, and I used Richard Provencher as an example. You have been reading about Richard, my young patient with metastatic colon cancer, in this blog for quite some time now. I invited he and his wife, Meredith to be our guests at the Gala, and got his permission to share his story with the attendees. Having a chance to honor his courage and his service on behalf of the cause to eradicate colon cancer was very moving for me and for many others in attendance. So, while the Gala was a lot of fun, we never lost sight of the objective—to support transformative cancer research at Lombardi.

After a restful Sunday (it was nice to see all of the NFC teams that played win their games) I leave for a short work trip to Europe on Monday afternoon. I am advising a hospital in Vienna that wishes to establish an American style Comprehensive Cancer Center. I will be back in time for a short make up clinic on Friday morning.

Have a great week.

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