Archive for June, 2019


Jun 24 2019

Bidding a Fond Temporary Farewell to a Georgetown Treasure

by at 5:19 pm

The past week was highlighted by a few notable activities. These included a terrific Men’s Event fundraiser, the Georgetown University Executive Committee Retreat, and a quarterly meeting of the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute. Friday was highlighted by the first and highly successful Thesis Committee meeting for my graduate student, David Zahavi, who is continuing to develop my laboratory’s work on testudinidosis (loss of cell surface adhesion molecules as a mechanism of resistance to immune attack) originated by Joe Murray and continued by Dalal Aldeghaither.

What a beautiful weekend! It started with a MedStar Georgetown Department of Otolaryngology residency graduation dinner that honored the departing Chief Residents, one of whom is Kelly Scriven, our daughter-in-law. It was quite the event, held at Joe’s Steak, Seafood and Stone Crabs in DC, and the food, comments and roasts were deliciously spot-on. Congratulations to Kelly, who continues her training in a Pediatric ENT fellowship at Johns Hopkins. She and Dave are relocating to a new apartment in Baltimore this week, where he will be chief resident in Orthopedics at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. We are so happy and proud of them for their accomplishments, but are not looking forward to the extra time it will take to go visit them and Clara.

Saturday started with a visit to the FASEB auditorium on Rockville Pike to speak at the Hope Connections-hosted Ruesch Center Symposium, hosted by John Marshall. It was a wonderful, well attended event. I want to take a moment to give John a shout out as he prepares to take a one-year sabbatical at Oxford and at Indivumed. John is a genuine Georgetown treasure, with a well-earned international reputation in gastrointestinal cancers. You don’t believe me? Well, a couple of weeks ago, Harriet was reading a best-selling autobiography, “The Unwinding of the Miracle”, by Julie Yip Williams. Suddenly I noticed Harriet was crying while reading a section of the book. The author, a young immigrant from Vietnam, had her sight restored in the USA when she was young, and grew up to be a Harvard law graduate, wife, mother and patient with metastatic colon cancer. As her disease worsened she traveled down from New York City (where she was cared for at Memorial Sloan Kettering) to see a prominent GI medical oncologist in Washington, DC, whom she referred to as “Dr. M.” She described how he was the best physician she had seen, combining clinical virtuosity with patience and empathy. Harriet, still whimpering, asked me who that might have been. It was obvious – John Marshall. There could be no other choice. The author eventually lost her battle, but she was so right. There is no better doctor – anywhere – than John. We will miss him terribly while he is gone, but look forward to his return in a year, refreshed and filled with new ideas and perspectives.

Have a great week. I’ll be going on vacation later this week, so my blog will resume after the July 4 holiday.

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Jun 16 2019

Happy Father’s Day

by at 1:56 pm

(June 16, 2019) – I am writing this blog on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at my father’s house in Yardley, Pennsylvania. Harriet and I came up here to celebrate Father’s Day with him. He has rallied a bit from his recent illness, but we feel it’s important to spend time with him when possible. He has been an enormous influence on me, and I know that he is always in my mind’s eye when I interact with my kids and grandchildren. That is their good fortune.

Last week was busy but relatively uneventful. The coming week will be highlighted by the Georgetown University Senior Leadership retreat on Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Tidewater Inn in Easton, Maryland. Previous retreats have been further away, so I’ll be able to get back for some meetings on Wednesday afternoon. Ordinarily, I would have headed out to the retreat for its start on late Monday afternoon, but I must attend Monday’s annual Men’s Event, which raises money to support prostate cancer research at Lombardi. This is the 20th anniversary of this event, and the last one for its founder and champion, Daphne Baker, who is retiring. I cannot thank her enough for her years of tireless effort to raise money to support cancer research, which has included about $2 million to support our work. Thank you, Daphne, and all the best in your next phase.

Enjoy your week, and happy Father’s Day.

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Jun 09 2019

Back from ASCO

by at 4:34 pm

(June 9, 2019) – My work week at Georgetown was shortened a bit by my return from ASCO late on Tuesday afternoon. After dropping my bags off at home, I headed straight out to MedStar Washington Hospital Center for a meeting about implementing a presence for Georgetown’s Health Justice Alliance in the hematology/oncology outpatient clinic. This effort, which is spearheaded by Vicki Girard, a professor of law at the Georgetown Law Center, offers a wide suite of legal services to underserved patients. This is of course innately good. We think it will increase opportunities for all of our patients to receive appropriate care and maximize their therapeutic benefits.

Wednesday and Thursday were dominated by the Georgetown Board of Directors meetings, which included COMCA on Wednesday, followed by a wonderful dinner at the Kreeger Museum on Foxhall Road. The Kreeger has a small but quite remarkable collection of impressionistic and post-impressionistic art. It is well worth a visit.

The coming week will be busy, and I look forward to beginning work on a couple of new grants. Have a great week!

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Jun 03 2019

ASCO 2019

by at 8:12 am

Greetings from Chicago, where I am attending the 2019 ASCO meeting. It is a massive event, yet is dwarfed by the unending meetings with potential collaborators and sponsors. The enormity of the event assures that no one can get to everything that might be worthwhile.

Two observations – the immunotherapy sessions, which used to be intimate events, now occupy the largest halls and are SRO. I was particularly taken by the observation of one discussant, who notes that almost 1000 new immuno-oncology compounds are in clinical testing, meaning that comprehensive clinical evaluations of 3-drug combinations would require more than 1.3 million clinical trials! Clearly, there is a need for good preclinical research to winnow this list into a more practical size.

I’ll be returning to DC on Wednesday, and expect my head will stop spinning eventually.

Have a great week.

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