Archive for June, 2018


Jun 25 2018

Bug bites

by at 12:52 pm

(June 24, 2018) — I hope you had a nice weekend. Mine was spent compiling and finalizing a first draft of the LCCC Strategic Plan, which now will go out to its various owners for their review and comments. We need to have an updated plan for the site visit in October. Obviously we have been working on the plan quite diligently for years, but pulling it all together into a coherent document made me think of what it must be like to wrestle with an alligator.

Harriet and I had time for a bit of recreation over the weekend, as we had tickets to the Kennedy Center on Friday evening to see a fun musical about the iconic Motown group, The Temptations. I also took some time on Sunday morning to take our 3 year-old grandson Eli to the National Museum of American History to see the transportation exhibit. He loves trains more than life itself, and was about as happy as a little boy can be as he wandered through the exhibition. Curiously, he insisted on going through the Star Spangled Banner room (one of my favorite rooms in any museum, anywhere) three times. Something about the rockets’ red glare resonated with him …

The week that preceded these events was dominated by the annual Men’s Event fundraiser at Mortons on Connecticut Avenue. We raised a bunch of money and generated new friends for the cancer center as well. Mark Rypien, the iconic Redskins Super Bowl winning quarterback, even forgave me for being an Eagles fan!

The rest of the week belonged to the GU Executive Committee retreat, held this year at the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, MD. This was an especially interesting and important meeting that focused on free speech and also on the roles of historically black colleges and universities in our society. It was very thought-provoking and forced all of us to consider where the lines of free speech can be drawn in an era of highly politicized self expression. Plus, the hotel is great, and I got all these cool souvenirs – in the form of bug bites.

Now that summer is upon us I hope you too get a chance to chase down some bug bites of your own. Have a great week.

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Jun 18 2018

Honoring our Past, Looking to the Future

by at 11:43 am

(June 17, 2018) — Happy Fathers Day! Harriet and I are on a train heading back from Trenton to DC, having decided at the last minute to travel up to spend the day with my father. He had a minor health scare earlier in the week, and though everything turned out well, the incident reminded me that celebrating Fathers Day with him was possible today, but there are no guarantees for Fathers Days to come. We’re glad we made the trip.

This past week was highlighted by the first meeting of the Lombardi Leadership Council, which is composed of some of our most committed and effective donors and ambassadors. We learned about zebrafish, among other scientific delicacies, and I was really excited by the energy amongst the participants. Kudos to Donald Dunn for making this happen; I hope this will be a regular part of Lombardi’s activities as we move forward. Speaking of moving forward, Tuesday evening was highlighted by a ceremony honoring the opening of our Proton Therapy center. It is good to know that we remain on the technological cutting edge for care delivery. Congratulations to Tony Dritschilo and his team for getting this exciting new therapeutic tool up and running.

As many of you know, Tony served as Interim Director of the cancer center prior to my arrival at the end of 2007. The chain of events that led to my arrival were set in motion when Marc Lippman stepped down as Director about 18 years ago. He may have left, but his influence and perspective have continued to inform this place since then. Apparently, Lombardi has had the reciprocal effect on him; he never stopping caring about the cancer center or this university. Knowing that, he and I have been speaking for some time about his possible return to the Hilltop.

I am pleased to report that Marc will rejoin Lombardi on July 15 as a member of our breast cancer program, where his wise counsel and imaginative new ideas no doubt will further energize that program and be of great value to all of us. Marc is an inspired mentor, as many of our faculty know, and I very much look forward to his arrival. He is a true giant in the field of breast cancer research, and much of what is wonderful about Lombardi can be traced directly to the transformation of the cancer center under his prior leadership. I see a new breast cancer SPORE or P01 in our future.

Welcome home, Marc! And welcome as well to his staff, and especially to his wife Nanette Bishopric, an esteemed cardiologist who will see patients at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center and collaborate with Marc in his research activities.

So, you see, it is possible to look back and move forward at the same time. It just takes people who have the right combination of perspective and imagination.

Have a great week.

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Jun 11 2018


by at 9:11 am

(June 11, 2018) — As I write this week’s blog I am staring out the window waiting for the rainstorms to commence on a late Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, storms at work have been delightfully absent! My week started in Chicago at the annual ASCO meeting. It was a whirlwind of activity, ending with a return flight that landed at around 11:30 pm on Monday night. After a busy work day on Tuesday, Harriet joined me at a reception at the Alumni House for a recognition of Lombardi Women & Wine executive committee’s role in making this year’s fundraiser the most successful one ever. We tried something new – a Lombardi-oriented “Shark Tank” type of face off between two breast cancer focused research groups competing for a $30,000 pilot study award. It was very informative, and it really engaged the attendees in the best possible manner.

Wednesday was highlighted by COMCA, where I gave a brief presentation to the Board of Director’s GUMC oversight committee about the status of our consortium effort with Hackensack Meridian Health John Theurer Cancer Center. Later that evening we had a dinner, where by coincidence I was seated next to a board member whose legal clients include Hackensack. Small world! The next day was the formal Board of Directors Business meeting where I had a chance to chat with Dikembe Mutombo, a GU grad and basketball star who went on to a distinguished NBA career that included a stay in Philadelphia with the Allen Iverson-led 76ers team that went to the NBA finals in 2001. It turns out that Dikembe is quite interested in establishing a cancer center in the Congo. So, after Samir Khleif presented his work at the Immunotherapy Interest group meeting on Thursday evening I mentioned my interaction with Dikembe to him. It turns out that Samir, who works with a group attempting to establish cancer centers in sub-Saharan Africa, has previously met Dikembe and I was able to reconnect them. Hopefully this chance encounter (an example of Hoya geography!) will lead to some results that helps improve cancer care in the Congo.

The work week bled into Saturday, where I attended and spoke at the Lombardi Toss for the Cure event (a cornhole competition) led by the Friends of Lombardi, organized by Mark Decker Jr. I gave a little talk but left before the tournament started (I stink at that particular game), though I was drenched just by hanging out in the Bullpen outside Nationals Park for an hour or so on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon. Then we were invited to attend a lovely dinner at the home of a Lombardi supporter who has benefited for care by her remarkably knowledgeable, sensitive and effective Lombardi doctors. It is wonderful to lead an enterprise that does so much good for so many people. All in all, it was a great day and good week.

Let’s hope that next week is equally wonderful. I have to go out to Scottsdale on Wednesday for a 2-day conference on Evolutionary Biology in Cancer. It promises to be an exciting conference, though the temperature in Scottsdale is currently 102 degrees. I know it is a “dry heat” but I’ll be missing the humidity in DC while I am gone!

Have a great week.

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Jun 04 2018

ASCO Monday Morning

by at 11:08 am

(June 4, 2018) — Good morning on ASCO Monday morning. I am here at the meeting in Chicago and have not had a moment to breathe. So this week’s blog will be brief.

The big news since my last blog is that the CCSG was successfully submitted on May 25, and preparations are now focused on our October 17 site visit. In the meantime I am catching up on some research grant submissions, paper revisions and all of the other things that necessarily took a back seat to the crescendo of activity related to the CCSG submission.

I am flying back to DC tonight and look forward to a busy week of work.

Have a great week.

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