Archive for March, 2019

 

Mar 24 2019

Upcoming AACR Recognition

by at 8:58 pm

Greetings on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I have rested much of the weekend, as I recover from an upper respiratory infection that you may have noticed at Friday’s excellent Rennert Lecture by David Malkin. I need to get better because I have a big AACR meeting coming at the end of this week. I have been honored with an AACR Award for Distinguished Service, which entails, among other things, an award at the Sunday morning opening ceremony and an Award lecture on Tuesday morning. I am being recognized for accomplishments in research plus a number of AACR activities over the years, most notably leading the charge to establish the Cancer Immunology Working Group, which now has about 9,000 members. I am humbled and very much looking forward to the events. However, the events pale in comparison to the upcoming delivery by our daughter-in-law Kelly (David’s wife) of a baby, probably this week. It will be their first child. So, I am trying to keep my schedule as flexible as possible this upcoming week.

Back at home, all is well. I had a very busy work week, as always, my week was highlighted by three lectures. The first was the Sarah Stewart lecture, presented by Jeanne Mandelblatt and Bill Rebeck, which described their pioneering work on chemo brain. Regrettably, the lecture, which was intended for medical students, had poor student attendance; they missed a wonderful presentation and discussion. Then, on Thursday I participated in the Georgetown University Spring Faculty Convocation. Our own Todd Waldman received his 20-year medal (how time flies!). Peter Edelman gave the “Life of Learning” lecture, and gave an insightful, passionate and moving description of institutional poverty and the ways it is perpetuated in our society. I left the lecture inspired to address the impacts of systemic poverty through our work in the cancer space at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. We can’t solve all these problems by ourselves, but shame on us if we don’t try to make a difference where and when we can. I already mentioned David Malkin’s lecture, which was a genuine tour de force journey into the continuing mysteries of p53 biology in cancer.

I hope to see at least some of you at AACR! There will be no blog this coming week as my days are likely to be crazy busy. I am looking forward to an eventful and fulfilling week on multiple fronts. I hope the same holds true for you.

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Mar 17 2019

“Back” from Manhattan

by at 12:28 pm

Greetings on a chilly Sunday afternoon. I don’t know about you but I am officially ready for springtime. We are hanging out this weekend with Ken, Sarah and three of our grandkids, and I can tell you that the little ones are indeed looking forward to warmer weather!

Last week was highlighted by a trip on Tuesday to Manhattan for a grant review meeting. While sitting in the train my back suddenly began to tighten and by the time we pulled into Penn Station I was listing to the right like the Leaning tower of Pisa. I walked up to 46th and Park, where the meeting was held, hoping that the walk would help. It would not. I soldiered through the day, but have spent the last 5 days waiting for the spasm to resolve. This happens to me about once a year, and nothing much seems to help or prevent it from happening. I get through it, as always, but it is a “pain”.

Thursday was highlighted by the annual Hope Connections Gala. This wonderful organization is totally devoted to the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual needs of those who are touched by cancer. Sound familiar? It should, since it is the living embodiment of “cura personalis”.

On Friday, we were visited by Lombardi’s New Jersey based colleagues led by David Perlin. He leads a fabulous effort to develop anti-infective agents that target diseases that emerge in immunosuppressed cancer patients. There are numerous opportunities for collaboration in that space. Moreover, we are going to build a mechanism to support the development of novel agents that specifically target cancer biology; you’ll learn more about the latter initiative soon.

For me, next week will be highlighted by the inaugural Faculty Research Discussion meeting tomorrow (Monday, March 18) at 5 pm in the Martin Marietta Conference room. This meeting is designed to provide research updates with a specific emphasis on clinical translation of laboratory findings or correlative laboratory science in the context of clinical trials. I will be kicking off the series with a discussion of work from my lab exploring novel mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy. I hope to see you there. I hope you’ll see me standing without difficulty too!

Finally, I received a ton of useful and important feedback on our efforts to support successful submissions for peer reviewed funding using mock study sections. The guidelines have been modified and are here for your review and further comment.

Have a great week.

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Mar 11 2019

Tiring but Productive

by at 7:59 am

I am getting a bit tired of traveling! One week after a very good but tiring trip to California I turned around and flew out on Monday to Tucson, Arizona to participate in the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s External Advisory Board. The meeting ended on Tuesday afternoon and I flew home immediately thereafter, getting back early on Wednesday, perhaps not in the best shape possible. I recovered a bit on Wednesday morning, and had a productive afternoon followed by a wonderful kick-off reception for the upcoming 20th anniversary Men’s Event to be held in June.

The rest of the week was busy but flew by quickly, with clinic on Thursday afternoon and a Friday highlighted by the Faculty Evaluation Committee meeting to review productivity. I have separately reviewed about half of my assigned allotment of reviews (38 in all), and hope to get them done this week. To those of you who have not yet submitted your evaluations, I ask that please get them done promptly!

The coming week promises to be pretty busy. I hope yours is busy and rewarding.

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Mar 03 2019

Sports (and Life) in the Capital

by at 5:52 pm

Greetings on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The mood in DC is a bit subdued, in part due to political drama, abetted by the prospects of another disruptive weather event. Plus, Bryce Harper is moving about 150 miles up I-95 to play baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies. As a diehard Philly sports fan with a particular love of baseball I am elated, and appreciate the major investment being made by Phillies’ ownership in the future of the team. But I don’t feel the type of partisan glee I would have felt had DC lost a player to the Eagles or 76ers (I am not much of an ice hockey fan). After 11 years in DC I still detest the football team here, am somewhat indifferent to the Wizards but I have come to like the Nationals, who act with class and have put a consistently interesting product on the field for the last 7 or 8 years. They have become my second favorite baseball team, and these feelings are somehow not conflicted.

Harriet and I truly feel like dual citizens (i.e., Philadelphia and Washington) and genuinely enjoy living here. We have been witness to the rapid development of the city. There are so many great neighborhoods, some old, many newly developing. We have met many interesting people doing important work. There are fabulous cultural opportunities, and excellent new restaurants seem to open daily. Except for housing costs and soul-crushing traffic, what’s not to like? Plus, there’s a lot of Philly infiltrating the District (Wawa, La Colombe, Le Diplomate, St. Anselm, Fancy Radish, Pizzeria Vetri, Morimoto, among others), so we feel at home wherever we are! I have become accustomed to rooting for Bryce Harper in a white and red uniform for a pretty long time, and now know I’ll be able to do so for the foreseeable future, hopefully with a Phillies world championship or two to celebrate.

In other news, last week was dominated by my trip to Orange County to participate in the University of California, Irvine cancer center’s External Advisory Board meeting and by the completion of my R01 grant competing renewal application. I also received a lot of feedback on my blog from last week regarding the idea of increasing our mock study section efforts. It’s good to know that people read my blog! In response to these comments, the Executive Committee discussed and is modifying the guidelines to achieve our goals of supporting Lombardi investigators without creating obstacles and without an unintended punitive aspect. When the changes are complete I will include the revised guidelines in my blog for an additional round of comments.

Assuming the airport is open and functioning on Monday morning, I fly out to Tucson for a meeting of the University of Arizona cancer center External Advisory Board (it does seem to be the season for these yearly reviews!). We meet on Monday night and Tuesday, and I fly back home late Tuesday afternoon, getting back to DC at around midnight. Then it is on to my next grant submission – no rest for the weary!

Have a wonderful week.

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