Archive for December, 2014


Dec 21 2014

That Time of Year

by at 9:17 pm

Well now, that wasn’t fun. The Eagles completed an epic collapse, losing to the awful football team from Washington, followed by the Cowboys’ demolition of Indianapolis on Sunday. So, good bye playoffs and hello to a long winter and nothing to look forward to as a Philly fan in basketball or baseball for at least the next two years. Fortunately, I rather like the Wizards and Nationals and can follow them with interest while I wait for my teams to become more relevant.

We were supposed to go the football game on Saturday, but had plans to take my father out to dinner for his 88th birthday in Philadelphia. But, as some of you may have noticed I caught the bug that has been going around on Tuesday and was increasingly miserable to the point where I could not speak at all. I was in no condition to travel, get outside, or even concentrate, and so spent an exceptionally quiet weekend at home. I am beginning to feel a bit better, and hope to get through the next couple of days in better shape.

So there’s not much to report, work-wise, from the past week. We had a well attended faculty sector meeting on Monday, and enjoyed a marvelous celebration on Monday evening of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Nina Hyde Breast Cancer Center. It seems as if the Lombardi Holiday party on Thursday evening was really nice – I was only able to stay for a short time to croak out some holiday greetings and get myself home. I wish I could have stayed longer, but the worsening symptoms, a long day and a full afternoon clinic got the better of me.

This will be my last blog of 2014. I look forward to returning to work in January, fully recovered and raring to go. We have a lot of important work to do!

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a restful holiday season. And stay healthy!

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Dec 07 2014

A typically busy week

by at 8:29 pm

Hoping you had a good week, I am sitting here at home on a Sunday afternoon, with the Washington football game on in the background, waiting for the Eagles-Seahawks game to start. Whatever you may think about RGIII, it does not seem as if Colt McCoy is the answer, either. I guess it is back to the drawing board for that team…

Last week was typically busy but highlighted by a few notable experiences. One of them was a very nice lecture on Friday by David Soto-Panjota, a NCI postdoc who is interested in CD47 as a cancer target. I was particularly interested in this talk because my lab has been interested in this target since Casey Shuptrine, one of my graduate students, identified CD47 as a gene whose knockdown selectively promotes the induction of adaptive anti-tumor immunity in mice bearing a syngeneic breast tumor infected with a whole murine genome-targeting shRNA library. CD47 has gained notoriety as a macrophage “don’t eat me” signal, but David’s talk described additional roles for CD47 in mitophagy, autophagy and sensitization to radiation and drugs.

This Friday lecture was preceded by a very busy morning clinic; so, I missed the first bit of the talk. My clinic had to be moved because of a very busy Thursday. On Thursday morning Georgetown Lombardi’s Arts and Humanities program, led by Julia Langley, hosted a fascinating program on “the Art of Perception,” presented by Amy Herman. I became aware of Amy’s work when I saw a poster advertising a workshop being hosted by her at MD Anderson when I visited that institution to give a lecture back in July. It turned out that Julia knew of her work, and this led to her visit to DC. Amy developed this program a few years ago to apply the techniques of examining art to improve professional performance by diverse groups, such as medical students, health care providers, homicide detectives, CIA, Navy Seals and the FBI. We started with a breakfast and presentation by Amy at the Newseum and the group then trooped across the street to the National Gallery, where we looked at masterpieces from a totally new perspective. Amy is a genuine force of nature; after our morning activity she then departed to present a modified version to a large group of medical students and caregivers at the hospital.

After grabbing a quick bite, I then walked from the Newseum to the Washington Court Hotel for the Association of Academic Health Centers’ annual meeting, participating in a panel discussion led by Howard Federoff that involved other Georgetown colleagues. We discussed the opportunities and challenges of implementing systems biology from clinical, research, education and faculty development perspectives.  I actually ran into a few old friends there, and found the experience to be quite interesting. After that, it was off to the Ruesch Center’s annual Symposium at the Leavey Center, which began on Thursday afternoon, continued through Friday and concluded with a very exciting and well attended patient symposium on Saturday. As always, John Marshall did a masterful job of assembling a stellar internal and external faculty and the symposium was simply superb. I had the privilege of giving a Keynote presentation on Saturday for the patient symposium and was, as always, energized and humbled by the intelligence, passion and resolve of these people, who face so many challenges yet give so much in return for our hard work.

The coming week should be interesting. I was supposed to go to San Diego for the annual antibody engineering meetings, but canceled those plans when I was asked last week to testify before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday morning regarding the importance of investing in cancer research by supporting the requested NCI budget. I very much look forward to taking my shot at convincing our legislators to support the important work we do. If you have any suggestions regarding what I should say please let me know!

Have a great week.

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