Archive for February, 2017

 

Feb 27 2017

Oscar Weekend

by at 11:07 am

I am writing this week’s blog while waiting for the Oscars show to start. Harriet and I saw most of the “big” films this year, and are interested in seeing who gets the awards. I think “La La Land” will do very well, but would not argue if “Moonlight”, “Hidden Figures” or “Lion” surprise with wins. I was not crazy about “Manchester by the Sea”, and we have not yet seen “Fences” or “Arrival”.  If the quality of these movies is any indication, the arts are alive and well.

The weekend was highlighted by a visit to a truly wonderful restaurant, Rose’s Luxury, in Capitol Hill. They don’t take reservations, but we and a couple of friends were able to score a table for four using some sort of promotion for 9 pm on Saturday night. The restaurant is refreshingly casual and the food and service are truly exceptional – innovative, quirky but wonderful in all respects. And, it is surprisingly reasonable for a restaurant that was rated the top new restaurant in the US in 2014. If they gave out Oscars for restaurants, this place certainly would be nominated!

The preceding week was really interesting as well. I was a Grand Rounds speaker at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday. By chance, the visit served as a “pre-visit”, as a delegation of us from MGUH and MWHC will be visiting there late next month to learn about their high-performing clinical operations as we gear up to improve our own operations. We had a great visit to Hackensack University Medical Center on Friday and took home a treasure trove of ideas on how we can improve.

Finally, we hosted a delegation from Merck on Thursday to explore ways we might collaborate to develop immunotherapy for cancer. The Merck delegation included some old friends like Dr. Jon Cheng, who worked in my lab group as a Med Onc fellow and then as a faculty member at Fox Chase Cancer Center. It was wonderful to see him and catch up; it was also exciting to learn about Merck’s research priorities and how we might work together. All in all, it was a good week. I hope that your week was good too, and that the coming week is productive and interesting.

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Feb 21 2017

April in February!

by at 9:25 am

What on earth is going on? I can’t believe the beautiful, warm weather we are having. Plus, we had the unexpected treat of an overnight visit by our son Ken and his family, and got to enjoy an al fresco dinner at a nice spot on Wisconsin Avenue on Saturday night, chasing after the little ones on the sidewalk as we ate.

The weekend capped off a crazy busy but fun week, highlighted by an all-day retreat with visitors from Oak Ridge National Lab to explore possible collaborations. They are excited by the incredibly powerful computers they are getting ready to order for delivery in the relatively near future. This mind-numbing scale makes it necessary for them to find problems requiring that capacity. And, in the cancer space we sure have the types of problems they need. We also welcomed a new Lombardi member, Christine Rini, as a visitor and Grand Rounds speaker; she is a member of our CPC program, based at Hackensack Meridian, our developing consortium partner. She described her work in how people can use various forms of expressive writing to cope with the bong-term aftershocks of bone marrow transplantation. I’ll be up that way on Friday, as a delegation from MGUH and MWHC site visits the Hackensack operation to learn how they operate their successful, high volume clinical operation.

Two quick food notes – Harriet and I had a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner at Casolare, located in the Glover Park Hotel on Wisconsin Avenue, just north of Calvert Street. It is a rustic Italian restaurant, and if you are in the mood for red gravy-based dishes, you won’t go wrong there. And then, on Friday evening, we went with friends to a cooking class at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda. We cooked three vegetarian dishes, two of which were delicious – I butchered the other one. No matter, it was a lot of fun, and I hope to be back for more (though I’d be a bit happier with a more diverse menu next time). They have a knife skills class, and that is a technique I’d like to improve (after seeing what I did to an innocent onion on Friday night).

Now, I think I’ll go back to enjoying what remains of this glorious holiday weekend. I hope you have a great week.

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Feb 13 2017

Waiting for the Wind

by at 9:50 am

I write this week’s blog as the sun peeks out on a preternaturally calm Sunday afternoon, knowing that howling winds await us tonight and through tomorrow. I guess it beats having the winds and winter weather that await our neighbors to the north.

I am taking a break from writing the Director’s Overview for our non-competing CCSG renewal application to write this blog. We are making excellent progress, but, in an eerie analogy this document is the wind that precedes the true storm that is the competitive renewal, now due in about 15 months. Those of you who attended the Sector Faculty Meeting two weeks ago know that the fretting has begun and the hard work is about to begin.

For some people, Sunday night represented a dream come true as their team won the Super Bowl (Mike Atkins, this one’s for you). I enjoyed watching a great game and a stirring comeback/collapse (depending upon one’s point of view) but mostly suffered, my misery quotient raised by the certain knowledge that victory parades for the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers are, in the next few years, as likely as a Sasquatch sighting.

So, for me, the past week was highlighted by the GU Patent Awards Ceremony where a number of people, many of whom are Lombardi members, accepted recognition plaques containing embossed first pages of their recently awarded patents. It was a lovely ceremony and a great reminder of the excellent work done by so many people in the Medical Center. The following day, I headed to Chicago, where I delivered Oncology Grand Rounds at Loyola University Medical Center. The parallels between Loyola and GU are quite extraordinary; two Jesuit institutions in major urban centers, with medical centers that have clinical partners (in Loyola’s case, Trinity Health). It’s quite remarkable how those parallels have led to convergent opportunities and challenges. As is the custom, I was treated to a dinner by my hosts, who invited two of my former Med Onc trainees from Fox Chase, both of whom are at Loyola’s Cardinal Berndadin Cancer Center, to join us. It was wonderful to catch up with them. I returned to a full day highlighted by a busy clinic, followed the next day by a series of meetings at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, as we begin to tweak and optimize our operational plan for moving forward with our regional network.

At both the dinner at Loyola and a dinner over the weekend with friends, the conversation centered on politics, with a few off ramps into other topics, always followed by a return to the political highway. I cannot remember a time when political discourse was so vibrant and intense following an election. if nothing else, we can’t be accused of apathy! But, at moments such as this, it’s important to remember that more than 11,000 Americans will die of cancer this week. We have a lot of work to do.

Make it a good week.

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Feb 06 2017

Super Bowl Sunday

by at 10:36 am

I’m taking a break from politics and work tonight to watch the Super Bowl. I don’t know who you are rooting for (or rooted for) in this most distinctive American spectacle. I have no particular rooting interest in either team, but look forward to a good game, the commercials and to the halftime performance. After that, I’ll leave the bubble of sports and spectacle, and rejoin the real world.

Have a great week.

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