Archive for November, 2017


Nov 19 2017

A Weekend to Celebrate

by at 10:09 pm

What a weekend! We started off with a dinner with new Lombardi friends and donors Tony and Jeannie Loop at the Reid House – a truly wonderful place across the street from the Alumni House – to celebrate their generous donation to support our new immuno-oncology lab, headed by new Lombardi member Samir Khleif. But the best was yet to come.

On Saturday evening, we held the 31st annual Lombardi Gala at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on 22nd St NW (a beautiful new venue!). The whole event was fabulous. We had a chance to honor Jeanne Ruesch with the Margaret L Hodges Award, Bryant Gumbel with the NFL Players Association Award and our own Darren Mays with the John L. Potter Rising Star Award. The final numbers are not yet in, but this year’s gala raised about $1.4 million between sponsorships, the silent auction, the live auction and the Lexus raffle. More than $200,000 came from the live appeal alone, with a room that came alive as we approached our goal. The evening was capped off by the announcement of the Loops’ gift of $1,000,000; so we all went home feeling a real sense of accomplishment.

Kudos to the Lombardi development team, and especially to Donald Dunn, Cristy Seth and Sharon Courtin, aided by so many colleagues and an army of dedicated volunteers. Bruce Fried and Lisa Hill, our gala co-chairs, ably stepped up when their fellow co-chairs, Jerry and Citsi Castro, were unable to participate due to the unimaginable dual, separate tragedies of losing their son and his father just a few days before the gala. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Castro family.

The gala has tremendous momentum, and we are poised to do better and better every year.

In more mundane but extremely important news, our CCSG drafts go out to our external advisors for their review this week in preparation for our upcoming EAC meeting on December 4. Thanks to everybody who has worked so hard to get to this point, with special thanks to Sharon Levy, who has really gone above and beyond to pull together the many moving parts of this gargantuan effort.

Have a great week, and a very happy Thanksgiving. I won’t be doing a blog next weekend, so we’ll connect again in two weeks.

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Nov 13 2017

What Else?

by at 10:29 am

(November 12, 2017) — Happy Sunday evening! My condolences to Washington football fans, as their team is now officially on life support with respect to the playoffs. As I write this week’s blog, the Cowboys are losing to the Falcons, with the net result being a widening opportunity for the Eagles to win the NFC East and coast into the playoffs. In my wildest dreams, I did not think it could be quite this teed-up so early in the season.

The weekend’s highlight for me was that I was able to successfully pull off a surprise birthday party for Harriet on Saturday night at the home of one of our dear friends in Baltimore. Baltimore was the best location because friends and family from Philly, DC and Baltimore could converge there. It was great.

What else? The week that preceded (and followed) the festivities was totally dominated by CCSG preparations, as we aim to get a decent first draft out to our EAC for its review within 10 days or so. All in all, I think things are going well. Special thanks to Sharon Levy and Mike Atkins for their tireless efforts to get the drafts ready for review. It’s a lot of work!

A big salute to Anton Wellstein, Anna Riegel, Claudine Isaacs, Mike Atkins and Beppe Giaccone for their contributions to 13th edition of Goodman Gilman textbook (to be published Nov. 24). As many of you know,  Goodman Gilman is the gold standard textbook for drug treatment used across all of medicine. It was first published in 1941 and is now in its 13th edition. It was last updated seven years ago.  Because of the dramatic changes in cancer treatment since then, two entire chapters – Chapter 65 (Introduction to Cancer Treatment) and 67 (Pathway Targeted Treatments) had to be completely rewritten and expanded. This reflects the remarkable achievements we’ve experience in cancer therapy in a very short period of time.

I hope many of you are planning to attend Convocation on Thursday. Dr. Harold Freeman will receive the Cura Personalis Award in the afternoon ceremony, and he’ll take part in the morning Colloquium panel “Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities.” Lucile Adams-Campbell will also be on the panel talking about the CBCC and the role of patient navigation in reducing health inequities. You can find a schedule of events here.

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Nov 06 2017

Working Through the Madness and Sadness

by at 12:01 pm

I hope you had a nice weekend. I spent mine working on the CCSG, interspersed by a wonderful Saturday evening fundraising event for the Children’s Cancer Foundation just north of Baltimore. It was a lovely event; we went with Jeff and Betsy Toretsky. Jeff, Aykut Uren and Joanna Kitlinska all received grant awards this year; congratulations to all of them on their outstanding work.

On Sunday, I worked almost all day, though my attention was diverted by the Eagles – Broncos game in the afternoon. I was so astonished by the effortless Eagles blowout of a scary Denver squad that I was able to have the game on in the background, while still concentrating on my work. I was far more distracted by the terrible news out of Texas, where another group of innocents were senselessly slaughtered while they sat in church. It’s all so sadly familiar; I just hope none of us ever allows ourselves to be numb to the madness and the unimaginable tragedy of such craziness.

The preceding week was filled by lots of activity, some of it quite pleasant. Monday evening was highlighted by a marvelous reception at Riggs Library in honor of Mike Atkins’ Scholl Endowed Chair. On Tuesday I sat on a panel with former NCI Director Doug Lowy and a few other people at One Voice Against Cancer briefing for the Cancer Caucus of House of Representatives, discussing the importance of sustained federal funding for cancer research. The next day I attended a half-day meeting at the NCI of the Clinical Trials Advisory Committee and presented the results of a subcommittee of CTAC that is working to improve the functionality of the Clinical Trial Reporting system. That evening I attended the AACR’s 110th Anniversary Gala at Mellon Auditorium, and had a chance to catch up with many old friends and celebrate the many accomplishments of AACR. Following my moderately busy clinic on Thursday I attended a really interesting meeting of Lombardi’s Immunotherapy Working Group, hearing about some of Leena Clarke’s interesting research (on which I am a collaborator) and also about the interim results of the CPIT 1 clinical trial. This trial, which is the brainchild of Andrew Pecora at the John Theurer Cancer Center of Hackensack Meridian Health, employs combined antibody checkpoint therapy (anti-PD1 and anti-CTLA4) following autologous stem cell transplantation for people with hematologic malignancies. This is the first such use of checkpoint antibody therapy in this setting, and the preliminary results are really interesting.

The coming week looks to be pretty busy, so if you don’t mind I think I’ll get back to working on the CCSG. We need to get decent drafts of our application out to our EAC for review in a couple of weeks, so I have a lot of editing and writing to do!

Have a good week. And don’t forget about the GUMC Community Meeting Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. when Pres. DeGioia will join Ed Healton for a conversation on a variety of topics (it’s in LA-6, Preclinical Science Building).

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