Archive for February, 2018


Feb 26 2018

Work and Play

by at 11:35 am

(February 26, 2018) — I am back to my blog after a one-week absence for President’s Day weekend. My so-called holiday weekend was filled with work, as I reviewed all four CCSG program write ups, followed by the Community Outreach and Engagement and CPDM sections. I was cross-eyed by the beginning of the work week. However, Monday was one of the most productive days I can remember with respect to my volume and quality of work. Sprinkled among the usual tsunami of meetings over the week I also worked with two of my graduate students on two separate papers they are readying for submission and tackled the first ten or so of Department of Oncology self evaluations for the 2017 Faculty Evaluation process. I personally review all of the Professors in the Department of Oncology. Ten down, more than 20 to go.

One of the highlights of the work week, which basically started every day in the early morning and ended at about 11 pm, was the internal ACS grant review committee meeting we held on Friday. We reviewed nine really high quality applications, and a few stood out and will receive support. I always find it exhilarating to learn more about the exciting work being done by young Lombardi investigators.

The weekend had a very nice balance of work and play. On Friday evening, we had an impromptu dinner with Mike Atkins and his wife Susan Crockin at a really nice restaurant near Howard University Hospital called Hazel. I don’t know how we got reservations there on such short notice. They have been there before, but this so-called “medium plate” restaurant was new to us. We were so impressed by the inventive, delicious food and attentive service that we purchased gift certificates for our kids – we think they’ll love the place. And congratulations to Mike who, on the following evening, was honored by the Melanoma Research Foundation with its Humanitarian Award!

Saturday brought a visit by Elana, Isaac and Aviva. Harriet and Elana hung out with Aviva, and Ken brought by his two older kids for a visit while Isaac and I went to watch the Hoyas lose to Providence. Even though the result was disappointing, Isaac and I had a great time. After we got back and Elana took the kids home, Harriet and I then headed over to the Arena Stage for a quick bite, and then saw the play, ‘The Great Society’, about the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. It was thoughtful, well done and provocative. It is tempting to conclude that our current societal challenges are uniquely treacherous, but the play reminded me of the enormous events that made the 1960s a watershed era in American history. Ironically, I am now reading a fascinating biography of Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and am struck by the remarkable turbulence and high stakes of that seemingly placid era. Bottom line: political and cultural eras – even in peacetime – are rarely placid, and never dull!

I worked most of the day on Sunday, but we stole away for an hour or so to visit Ken, Sarah and their kids so we could hold Isabelle and play a bit with the other kids. We feel very fortunate to have our kids and grandkids nearby so we can be part of their lives.

The coming week promises to be very busy, but no doubt will be as interesting as last week. No complaints there!

Have a great week.

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Feb 12 2018

Big Week

by at 10:21 am

(February 11, 2018) — Could a week ever have two more wonderful bookends? Last Saturday, I flew to Minneapolis with our youngest son David, having scored two tickets to see the Eagles play the Patriots in the Super Bowl. It was very much a last-minute thing, so we made complicated travel arrangements and found an Airbnb in St. Paul. It was a thrill to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with David, who is a crazy Eagles fan. Minneapolis resembled an icy version of Center City, Philadelphia, awash in a sea of green jerseys and E-A-G-L-E-S chants. Fortunately, Minneapolis has an extensive Skywalk system so we were able to walk in relative comfort to the stadium for the game. As for the game, I can’t overstate how fabulous it was to watch the Eagles win their first-ever Super Bowl in dramatic fashion. As one writer put it (and I quote loosely), “The 57-year old chip on Philadelphia’s shoulder (the Eagles last won the NFL championship in the 1960 season) died at 10:18 p.m. on Sunday night, and all of Philadelphia celebrated.” We were in the room where it happened.

David caught a 5:20 a.m. flight back home on Monday, since he had to get back to work, while I caught a 6 a.m. flight to San Francisco, via LA, as I had a meeting at Stanford University. My flight (filled with people wearing green Eagles jerseys) left promptly at 9 a.m. (the plane’s pipes were frozen, and we had to switch planes), so I did not arrive for my noon meeting until 2 p.m. My meeting continued through Tuesday afternoon, and I then flew down to Orange County to chair the EAB for the Chao Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine. I learned that Howard Federoff had resigned as Vice Chancellor at UCI, and wish him well in his future endeavors. I flew back to DC on the red eye from LA on Wednesday night, surrounded again by people wearing Eagles jerseys heading towards Philly for the massive Thursday Eagles victory parade. I was also trapped in an Economy middle seat between two large men, as we did our best imitations of fitfully sleeping sardines during an otherwise uneventful flight. It was good to get home and get back to work. It also was good that our daughter-in-law Sarah did not go into labor while I was gone.

That situation changed. We were awakened on Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. by a text message informing us that Ken and Sarah had been at Georgetown since 3:00 a.m., and that the epidural was in place. Sarah’s mom, who had come in from Denver the night before, was holding down the fort at their house. We hustled over, and I was left watching the kids while Harriet and Judy went to the hospital. I joined them a few hours later when Elana, Ben and their kids drove down from Baltimore to relieve me. At 2:25 p.m. on Saturday, our family welcomed our newest member, Isabelle, a beautiful and healthy little baby to the world.

Why the name Isabelle? Well, in the Jewish tradition, children are usually named to honor the memory of a deceased, beloved ancestor – if not the actual name, at least the first initial. There were no “I’s” in our family, at least not formally. But … In 1942 a little Jewish girl, Bella Flora Wach, went into hiding to escape Nazi persecution in Belgium. Her parents placed her in a convent as a novice. She lived in the convent for about six months, where she learned many Catholic prayer rituals (later in the war, her ability to recite the rosary saved her life when she was trapped in a cellar during an air raid, surrounded by German soldiers). She survived the war, moved to the United States and met my father at a Penn State football game in Pittsburgh. The rest, as they say, is my history. Fast forward to 2013, and her great granddaughter Ella Flora, whom she did not live to meet, was named in her honor. Now in 2018, another great granddaughter is named for a little girl who never actually lived but whose ephemeral life was responsible for the existence of two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren (and counting). She was the assumed identify of my mother, and her name was Isabelle Lambrecht.

Have a good week. I know I will.

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