Archive for December, 2016


Dec 19 2016

Changing Seasons

by at 11:24 am

The seasons change, but transitions are rarely seamless. Consider the first tentative jab of winter we experienced over the past few days. After shivering through the end of last week, Harriet and I headed up to Philly on Saturday, through the freezing rain and light snow, to attend my father’s 90th birthday party. He has been through a lot over the past year, but is doing very well and looked as good as I have seen him in five years. About 60 family members and friends had a simply marvelous time. Only my brother and I gave gifts, each of them related to the events of his life time – items related to his childhood (a book about the Philadelphia Athletics), his service in the military (a book about the Pacific theater in World War II), his college years at Penn State (a book, and also photographs), his work (a book about patent litigations involving Edwin Land, as well as a mosfet and a circuit breaker – he wrote patents for both of these inventions, among others), and, in tribute to my mother, a native of Belgium, a Mannequin Pis liquor dispenser! It was great fun. He gave a brief, extemporaneous speech after a champagne toast. After thanking everybody for attending, he said that he could not believe he had lived so long, because he had done nothing to deserve it. “I drink, I smoke cigars, I don’t exercise enough, I lie (for I am a lawyer). I recommend you do the same!” In truth, he does not live an immoderate life, but he sure has been fortunate to have a seamless transition into his 10th decade of life. Hopefully we do not follow his advice in the hopes our genetic lottery tickets also have lucky numbers printed on them. Happy birthday, Dad. May you enjoy many more warm days even as winter approaches.

The past week was filled with lots of work, starting with the visit of our superb External Advisory Committee on Sunday evening and Monday. We provided the EAC with a robust overview of our research programs, clinical research activities, administration and shared resources. We received positive feedback and many useful suggestions. I was incredibly proud of what we have and are accomplishing, and the high quality of the presentations by Lombardi members was noted by our EAC members on a number of occasions. I headed from the meeting to a dinner meeting with DeMaurice (De) Smith and Donald Dunn to thank De for his steadfast leadership of our annual Gala and for the help from the NFL Players Association to support the Gala. We ate at Medium Rare on Connecticut Avenue. The restaurant offers a handful of appetizers and one main course – steak, gravy, french fries – replete with apparently unlimited refills – followed by a handful of desserts. It’s a dangerous place if you are trying to watch your weight!

Thursday was highlighted by my participation on a small panel at the Library of Congress to discuss the Cancer Moonshot. The panel was moderated by Ellen Sigal from Friends of Cancer Research, and we were joined by Douglas Lowy, director of the NCI and Dinah Singer, a NCI deputy director. It was a genuine honor to participate in this panel. Unfortunately the panel met in a conference room and I didn’t have an opportunity to take a tour of the Library. Harriet steadfastly maintains it is the great under-appreciated treasure in DC that everybody should visit. It is still on my to-do list. But, I had to hustle back for an abbreviated clinic, followed by attendance at the Georgetown Women in Medicine reception that honored several Lombardi members, including Jacqueline Jonklaas, Claudine Isaacs, Huei-Ting Tsai and Ayesha Shahajan-Haq.

I started off Friday with a visit to the dentist, even though I had developed a cold (no doubt caused by the visit of our perpetually viremic grandson Eli the prior weekend). I hustled from the dentist to the Hospital Center for a couple of meetings, and was not able to get back in time to attend the Lombardi Grand Rounds lecture of Catherine Ballard. I had been looking forward to her talk. As I faded into worsening misery from my URI I had a full schedule of afternoon meetings that included a debrief of our EAC meeting. All in all it was a fitting bookend to a busy week. And, the best was yet to come.

This is my last blog of 2016. The coming week will be highlighted by the annual Lombardi Holiday party on Monday night, and I look forward to tying up a few loose ends before our office closes down for the holidays on Thursday afternoon. I wish everybody a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah and a healthy, happy and productive new year. See you in 2017!

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Dec 05 2016

Pre-Holiday Meeting Blizzard

by at 9:34 am

Happy December! I can feel the momentum building for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays at Georgetown and everywhere else. Last week was highlighted by a number of meetings, starting with a retreat on Wednesday of the MedStar Georgetown Scientific Advisory Board in Annapolis, led by Neil Weissman and Bob Clarke. This was followed by the annual Ruesch Center symposium on GI cancers. The event kicked off with a Doctors Speak Out event in the Hariri Building on Thursday afternoon, where I sat on a panel chaired by Jeannie Ruesch with John Marshall and Mike Pishvaian. The symposium continued at full blast in the Leavey Center on Friday. I was a panelist on the late afternoon plenary session, discussing the potential of immunotherapy to treat GI cancers. Congratulations to John Marshall and everybody on the Ruesch Center team for putting on a terrific meeting. This Center is a wonderful example of how people at Georgetown and MedStar can band together around a worthy cause – in this case, the prevention and cure of GI cancers – and make a real impact.

In the midst of all these meetings, we are busily gearing up for the December 12 meeting of Lombardi’s External Advisory Committee. I’ll be sharing my preliminary Director’s Update slides at this Monday’s Faculty meeting.

I’m off to Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon for a Lombardi fundraising event hosted by Paul Tagliabue and Tim O’Neill. The engagement of Georgetown’s Board of Directors is so important for our mission, and I am grateful for their support. The rest of the week will be pretty busy, and will end with a holiday dinner of the Georgetown Executive Committee, hosted by Jack DeGioia. I’ll need to keep up my exercise schedule to deal with the holidays this year!

Have a great week.

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