Archive for November, 2018

 

Nov 26 2018

Thankful on Thanksgiving

by at 9:55 am

As I muse about this past year, I am overcome with a sense of gratitude for so many things.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to lead an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center at a pivotal moment in the history of the war on cancer. We have the knowledge, tools and opportunity to eliminate the impact of cancer for those who follow us. What a great opportunity! We will make a difference together.

I am thankful to work with so many wonderful people at Georgetown, MedStar Health and Hackensack who help us seize those opportunities.

I am thankful for the amazing work we did together to effectively re-compete our NCI CCSG. Only by working together can we make a difference.

I am thankful for my wonderful wife, who makes me better in every way. Sharing a life with my perfect partner is the ultimate gift.

I am thankful for my health, and for a right knee that once again allows me to move effectively through life’s challenges.

I am thankful for my family, the foundation of all that matters to me, and the countless large and small blessings that I receive every day from them.

I am thankful to have a photo, taken on Thursday, of my 91-year old father, expertly carving (for seemingly the millionth time), our holiday turkey, ably assisted by our two sons (even though Harriet does a better job!).

I am thankful for life, and for a life devoted to making the world a better place.

On another note, any of our ASCO members should note that Samir Khleif is on the ballot this year. Please remember to vote for one of our own!

Thank you for what you do. Let’s make this week a good one.

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Nov 19 2018

Event-filled Week!

by at 12:47 pm

Greetings on a quiet Sunday evening. The Eagles’ season is effectively over, as they were mauled by the New Orleans Saints today. Alas, Washington’s season is now in peril with the loss of quarterback Alex Smith to fractures of his tibia and fibula in Washington’s loss to the Houston Texans. I genuinely feel for him, given my recent ordeal with my tibial plateau fracture. Ordinarily, I would be more upset about the Eagles, but I have the memories of last season to keep me warm. And, as I read somewhere this past week, sports are, after all, the toy department of life.

More importantly, I have the memories of this past week to maintain that perspective. On Wednesday, we received preliminary evaluations of our CCSG competitive renewal that are encouraging. We’ll know more after the NCI Subcommittee A meets on November 29; after that, their recommendations will go to the National Cancer Advisory Board and then to the NCI Cancer Centers Program for a final decision regarding our funding. So far, so good.

On Saturday evening, we celebrated our 32nd Annual Lombardi Gala at the Ritz-Carlton. We celebrated our successes, raised a lot of money and had a wonderful time. On a somber note, we remembered with gratitude the life of Margaret Hodges, who founded our Gala; Margaret passed away in September. We also honored the legacy of Lombardi’s founding director, Dr. John Potter, with the Potter award to our colleague Filipa Lynce, a rising star in breast cancer clinical research with a focus on addressing minority health disparities. My heartfelt thanks go out to Cristy Seth and her fabulous events team in Lombardi Development, as well as a small army of tireless volunteers who worked so hard to assure the success of the event. Donald Dunn has done a wonderful job of assembling a first rate team. I am especially grateful to our event co-Chairs Lisa Hill and Bruce Fried, and Citsi and Jerry Castro, and to our honorary co-chair and this year’s Margaret Hodges awardee, DeMaurice Smith. De gave a remarkable, heartfelt and gracious acceptance speech that will long be remembered by all who attended the event.

In addition to the money raised at the Gala, we were delighted to announce two separate $1 million level gifts to top off the evening. The first is from the Dekelboum Family Foundation to purchase a state of the art mass spectroscopy instrument suitable for HLA-peptidomics analysis. This will permit Lombardi investigators to develop novel immunotherapy treatment platforms. My thanks go to Steve Oram from the Foundation, to Sandy Swain for making the connection and to Donald Dunn for making it happen.

The second gift comes from Tony and Jeannie Loop to support the work of Samir Khleif; they made a similar gift in 2017. We are grateful for their wonderful generosity. I had the pleasure of introducing Tony and Steve at the Gala so their generosity could be acknowledged. All in all, it was a great night and a remarkable week.

The coming week will be shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday. I will be heading up to Philadelphia to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family. I hope you too have a wonderful holiday.

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Nov 12 2018

Staying Busy

by at 9:46 am

I hope you are enjoying a crisp Autumn Sunday afternoon. I am watching the Redskins game (rooting against them, as they stand in the way of the Eagles), waiting for our family to join us to celebrate Harriet’s birthday.

Last week was highlighted by a “Lunch with Lou” attended by members of the T Bio program. I was energized and deeply impressed by them, and am grateful to Anna Riegel for her consistent, wise leadership of this critically important effort. Tuesday was notable for a Mens Event reception, as we plan for Daphne Baker’s 20th and final event; starting next year, this fundraiser will be managed by Lombardi’s development staff. Thanks to Daphne for helping us to raise almost $2 million over the years through this event, along with countless new friends. After that event I hustled over to the Atkins/Crockin household to attend an election night gathering that was almost exciting as watching a football game, though the political action is notably more violent and dangerous.

I had to miss the annual meeting of the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) meeting to attend a Systems BIology meeting in Woods Hole, MA, where I was an invited speaker. The organizing committee included our Ayesha Shahajan-Haq and my stepdaughter Elana Fertig from Johns Hopkins. The field of Systems Biology is dominated by the younger generation, and the few of us who were in more senior leadership roles made our contributions but clearly see the impressive next wave of leaders stepping up. That is good news for our field.

The coming week will be important on several fronts. I believe we will receive our preliminary CCSG Summary Statement soon, and don’t need to tell you its importance. On Tuesday we have our annual GUMC Convocation, and I urge you to attend. Finally, our annual Gala will be held at the Ritz Carlton on Saturday evening. Even if you are not attending the Gala, take a look at the Auction items and feel free to bid online!

Have a great week.

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Nov 05 2018

On the Road Again

by at 10:55 am

Greetings from somewhere on I-95 on Sunday night. Harriet and I are returning from a 3 day visit to Philadelphia where we reconnected with old friends, spent time with family and enjoyed my brother’s new musical comedy, performed at a local theater. It has been a long time since I was able to travel, but now that I have been discharged by my orthopedist, I am good to go. Plus, the weight of CCSG preparations has been lifted, freeing up some time. If you are interested in a spectacular restaurant in Philadelphia, I suggest either Suraya or Vernick (both are great). And don’t miss going to the Barnes Foundation. It is one of the world’s great museums.

I spent the work week catching up on many items that had been neglected as we geared up for our site visit. I was especially pleased fo redirect my energies toward my laboratory. Both Reham Ajina and Allison O’Connell gave wonderful talks at Thursday’s data and immunotherapy interest group meetings, respectively. I have a lot of grant writing in front of me!

I have several presentations to give next week at scientific meetings. It’s wonderful to be back in the swing of things.

Have a great week!

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