Archive for December, 2015


Dec 21 2015

‘Tis the Season

by at 10:16 am

Greetings and Happy Holidays! As we head into Christmas and New Year’s, and the Georgetown University holiday, this past week saw many celebrations of the season. But the work of the cancer center, as always, came first.

We had a very rigorous and helpful External Advisory Committee meeting, which kicked off with a dinner at 1789 on Sunday night. In addition to the usual conviviality, a quartet from the Washington Men’s Chorus appeared twice to sing Christmas carols – making this a memorable EAC pre-meeting dinner for all of the attendees. We got down to work the next day, concentrating on critical issues facing Lombardi as we begin to move towards the competitive renewal of our CCSG in 2018. We sought the EAC’s advice on our collaborative science, our strategic planning and recruitment plans, our clinical research progress and our developing consortium with Hackensack. We received a good deal of useful feedback and look forward to receiving the EAC’s formal report in a few weeks.

We went right from the end of that meeting to a very well-attended retirement party for Phyllis Rand. It was a genuinely wonderful event, and many old friends attended, including former Lombardi directors Marc Lippman, Kevin Cullen and Tony Dritschilo. It reminded me that Lombardi is and has always been a family – and Phyllis is our matriarch. She sent us a card, which read,:

Dear Lombardi,

Thank you so much for the glorious retirement party. What a special send-off!

My years at Lombardi have taught me all about friendship, devotion and perseverance, and the power of what working together can produce – great things. It’s been quite a ride, and I am grateful to each and every one of you for your kindness and help all along the way.

Stay in touch and Happy Holidays.


We won’t get rid of her so easily, though; Phyllis was in the office the next morning, helping with the transition of Cheryl Dumsick to her new role.

Tuesday’s event was the annual Lombardi holiday party, held at the Leavey Center. Everyone – clinicians, nurses, research faculty and staff – was there. The room was incredibly and wonderfully crowded. It was another reminder of how many of us focus on the incredibly important task of understanding, preventing and curing cancer, and how we have the potential to evolve into a larger family.

Even though the year is winding down to its end, my calendar remains quite full. There is so much to do, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have a challenging set of responsibilities that invigorate me every day as we work to make a difference – both on a global level through our research, and one patient at a time.

This is my last blog for 2015. I wish each of you the happiest of holidays, and good health, peace, joy and continued great work in 2016. We will continue to make a difference. That thought will keep me warm through the coldest nights winter will have to offer.

P.S. Congratulations to the Washington football team on its victory on Sunday; it should have no difficulties in dispatching my woeful Philadelphia Eagles on its way to the NFC (L)East division title.

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Dec 14 2015

Under the Weather

by at 9:34 am

Nothing much matters without health. You’d think I know that already, given what I do for a living, but I certainly received a refresher course this week. I started with symptoms of a cold on Monday, but got through the day and attended the Georgetown University Executive Committee holiday dinner on Monday night. By the end of the evening I knew a variety of over-the-counter cold medicines was in my immediate future. I soldiered through a busy day on Tuesday, and left early on Wednesday morning for the annual Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics meeting in San Diego. I got there in the early afternoon, and thought I was holding my own, but by the end of the afternoon I felt genuinely awful. Knowing that I was scheduled to chair a session and give two talks the following morning, I called in a prescription for the antibiotic Zithromax to a local CVS pharmacy and added a few more OTC medications. I am pretty conservative about using antibiotics, since they are over-prescribed and frequently unnecessary, but I took the plunge anyway.I then crawled into bed, dreading the evening.

Antibiotics can be miraculous on occasion. By the middle of the night, my congestion had eased, and while I was still dragging a bit. I made it through my sessions and gave my talks without too much difficulty. However, instead of staying that night I elected to jump on a flight and get home sooner rather than later. I landed at Dulles at 9 pm and was home an hour later. I took it easy on Friday, though I came into work for 4 or 5 hours. I had to because I had a lot of work to do!

Our External Advisory Committee is meeting on Sunday evening and Monday, and many folks have been working hard to prepare for the meeting. I want to give a special shout out to Sharon Levy, who has handled the logistics with aplomb and has us on course for a successful meeting.

One last note – I had a special day today with our grandson Isaac. His parents came down to DC to visit with friends and while Harriet watched Aviva, Isaac and I had a great pizza together at 2 Amys and then drove to the Verizon Center to watch the Hoyas beat UNC Wilmington in an uncomfortably exciting game. Isaac was a great pal, and he loved attending his first ever basketball game. I will remember and cherish the day I spent with him far longer than I will the bad cold that thankfully only caused temporary misery.

I hope you got your flu shot! Have a great week, and enjoy the holiday season as it begins to ramp up to its crescendo.

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Dec 07 2015

A Thank You to the CRC

by at 9:42 am

I was sitting in the family room on Sunday afternoon, watching the early phases of what I assumed (along with the rest of the world) would be a beatdown of the Eagles by the Super Bowl champion, the New England Patriots. Reasoning that I had little to root for, I decided to write my blog. Go figure; the Eagles stunned the Patriots, proving that my blogging had the magical power to alter the outcome of a NFL football game. Now that we have dispensed with that fantasy (along with the one that the Eagles are actually good) I will now return to reality.

I want to start by noting that the performance of our clinical trials enterprise would not be possible without the exceptional efforts of so many people – our patients, doctors, nurses and clinic staff have truly embraced the idea of research-inspired clinical care. I really want to highlight the efforts of our clinical research staff – the nurses, coordinators, regulatory staff and data managers – who have progressively ramped up their activities while enhancing their professionalism – not an easy task. There is another group of people who have really taken on an enormous workload: our Cancer Research Committee (CRC), which as part of our Protocol Review and Monitoring System, reviews all new and continuing protocols for scientific merit and truly oversees our clinical research portfolio. Led by Claudine Isaacs, the CRC has been facing a progressively rising workload of studies of increasing complexity. Their regular meetings have become marathons because Lombardi is increasingly viewed as a premier destination for high-impact clinical trials. I am deeply grateful to the CRC for its work on behalf of our scientific mission, our patients and our investigators.

Speaking of our investigators, we are preparing for next week’s meeting of our External Advisory Committee meeting. I am working hard on my overview, which will set up a day where we will seek the EAC’s feedback on our three major areas of strategic emphasis: precision medicine, immunotherapy and cancer survivorship. We also will review our existing and planned multi-investigator initiatives. So, this week will be busy, even as we begin the holiday season’s many celebrations.

Have a great week.

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