Archive for February, 2014


Feb 23 2014

Offie Soldin: A True Sabra

by at 9:07 am

Wikipedia: Sabra (Hebrew: צבר‎, pronounced “tzabar”) is the term for Jewish people born in Israel. The term began in 1930’s, and refers to a Jew who had been born in Mandatory Palestine. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, however, Israelis have used the word to refer to a Jew born anywhere in the historical region, which today comprises Israel and the Palestinian territories.[1][2]

The term also alludes to a tenacious, thorny desert plant, known in English as Prickly Pear, with a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior. The cactus is compared to Israeli Jews, who are supposedly tough on the outside but delicate and sweet on the inside.

Offie Soldin was a Sabra through and through. She was smart and tenacious, and was interested in science, medicine, art, and her work. Offie’s research interests were eclectic and spanned a startling range that included thyroid disease and tobacco control. So, how ironic it was that she faced a startling diagnosis of lung cancer, even though she did not smoke? Yet, how typical of this strong, tenacious battler that she confronted her disease forthrightly and courageously, with clear-eyed understanding of the battle she faced and without a shred of self-pity?

I will never forget how she rose to the challenge a few months ago when she received an award from Georgetown Women in Medicine, an organization of which she was a champion. Despite her illness and the accompanying fatigue, she literally held court in the Lombardi Atrium, accepting accolades, hugs, and well wishes from so many people who cared for her. I had the chance to visit with her last week in the hospital. Even though her body had weakened, her spirit was undiminished. We talked about her work and her lab, and her eyes lit up as she talked about a future she knew she would never see. What strength and grace!

Rest in peace, Offie, and know that we will not rest until we conquer this disease.

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Feb 17 2014

Greetings on a cold President’s Day

by at 8:48 am

Greetings on a cold President’s Day. We are babysitting for our granddaughter today, and I can’t wait until I get my next cold! We had a great weekend; we had all of our kids, their spouses and our grandchildren in our house at the same time. We almost never have this happen here in DC, but I hope it is the start of a new tradition!

Last week started with the successful doctoral dissertation defense of John Timmons, on whose thesis committee I sat. Having spent the vast majority of my career at a non-degree granting institution, I always am gratified to see students move forward and develop into scientists. It is a real thrill.
The week was obviously truncated by this seemingly endless winter, and even the GU Board of Directors meeting was abbreviated so the Board members could get out of town to beat the weather system sweeping up from the South. I did have an opportunity to present to the Committee on Medical Center Affairs to describe the CCSG outcome–the meeting was held at “Georgetown Downtown,” a really beautiful facility. I used the downtime created by the snowstorm to finish up my R21 grant, and began working on my next research project.
This week will be highlighted by a trip to Miami Beach to participate in John Carroll weekend, which is GU’s big, yearly alumni event. I leave on Thursday after clinic to participate on a panel discussing personalized medicine on Friday morning, with a Medical Center Reception scheduled later that day. Harriet is joining me, and we are seeing a few friends who have places in or near Miami on Friday and Saturday. Then, it’s back to winter next Sunday!
Let’s hope we can get in a full week of work without weather events.

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Feb 09 2014

A Quiet Week

by at 8:09 pm

This has been a fairly quiet week as far as newsworthy items go, though it was filled with many meetings, a busy clinic, and interviews of clinical research physician candidates—a junior faculty bioinformatics candidate and a tumor biology PhD program candidate. I was supposed to attend a meeting in New York on Wednesday, but the ice and snowstorm that hit the mid-Atlantic states converted that meeting into a highly interactive and useful webinar. Aside from the fact that the meeting was (virtually) terrific, I must say I was pleased to not have had to travel into the teeth of the storm, even with the relative comfort of Amtrak’s finest conveyances. I was especially pleased because I was saddled with another upper respiratory infection—my third of this dreary winter. It seems as if I get one every time we see our granddaughter. So, I think there are more colds in my future!

One highlight of the week was the Council of Chairs meeting on Friday. Jack DeGioia graciously spoke before an unusually full house and masterfully placed into perspective the importance of the medical center to the University. He spoke knowledgeably of the larger market forces that create challenges for GUMC, for the University, and for the entire biomedical academic research community. He didn’t say anything we did not already know, but it was clear that the Medical Center is a significant priority for the University.

Speaking of the University, the Georgetown University Board of Directors meets this coming week, and I have been asked to give a presentation regarding our recent CCSG site visit and evaluation. I will be giving a preview of my presentation at the Faculty Sector meeting on Monday at noon, and look forward to receiving comments and feedback from the faculty. I hope my voice holds up through both presentations!

Have a great week, and stay warm.

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Feb 02 2014

Another “weather event”

by at 7:39 pm

I can’t believe we are heading into another “weather event” on Monday morning. Harriet and I drove up to Philly to watch the Super Bowl with my father, but decided to not spend the night there as originally planned so we could avoid an impossible drive back to DC in the morning. So we left after the halftime show—and clearly did not miss much as the game was pretty much over by then.

Our niece organizes corporate outreach for the NFL, so she invited her mom (Harriet’s sister Pam) to join her at big NFL parties over the weekend. Pam got to hang out with the great Barry Sanders and the cast of Breaking Bad – she knew the latter but did not understand the significance of Sanders. As far as I can tell, she knows nothing about football. But she had a great time anyway. The party certainly was better than the game!

Our weekend started with a trip to Temple Micah in Northwest DC for a Friday evening service that featured a tribute to the late, great Pete Seeger. The usual sermon was replaced by a moving musical eulogy by Doug Mishkin, a congregant, local lawyer, and fixture on the folk music scene. Seeger was truly an American original—amazingly talented, possessed of a refined social consciousness and rare personal courage. He used music to create social change and left this world far better than he found it.

We are gearing up for a meeting to update the Lombardi Strategic Plan. And I am finalizing my pancreatic cancer R21 application, so I am pretty busy. Hopefully the snow will not be too disruptive to getting some work done!

Be careful out there.

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