Archive for May, 2021

 

May 31 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 440

by at 9:12 pm

Life — almost normal — returning?

As the threat of COVID-19 continues to recede for those of us who are fully vaccinated, this holiday weekend was about as good as it could be in the face of cold, windy, rainy days. We are taking an extra day at the beach, though I’ll be working from there on Tuesday.

I saw a haunting image on the news today, of a woman and her infant, sprawled on a blanket covering the grave of her husband, a casualty of war who almost certainly never lived to meet his baby. It reminded me once again that Memorial Day is not just about beaches and barbecues. People have lost their lives for our freedom and the American way of life, and we would do well to remember this, each in our own ways, and commemorate the sacrifices that have allowed us the privileges of peaceful, safe family gatherings in the midst of plenty.

Stay safe and stay well.

Lou

 


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May 24 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 433

by at 7:15 am

I am finishing up a fabulous vacation week, punctuated by only a few work-related responsibilities. I had forgotten what it feels like to be renewed and refreshed. Even as the pandemic wanes (it is by no means over), I am struck by its less obvious and insidious effects, such as the blurring of boundaries between work and life. Maintaining those boundaries has always been a challenge for me. My workday ordinarily ends at about 10 p.m. or so, if not later, but somehow work during the pandemic has taken a fresh toll on me, perhaps because there have been no breaks provided by dinners, trips and conferences. I feel most fortunate to have had important work to do, but taking a bit of time off is really refreshing!

Our family joined us on Friday to celebrate my birthday — all the adults are fully vaccinated, so it felt pretty normal. You may have read that the Delaware beaches are like the Wild West with respect to pandemic precautions, and that is more or less true in Dewey Beach, but we are further south, and when we wander into town about half the adults are still wearing masks outdoors and nearly everyone wears masks indoors, except when they are eating.

Birthdays are like mile markers on the road. Nothing really changes, but they offer opportunities for reflection. All I can say is that I am one very lucky guy. Thank you for being part of the rich tapestry that makes my life so rewarding.

Stay safe and be well.

Lou

 


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May 17 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 426

by at 7:15 am

I am writing this week’s blog early because I am on vacation this week.

Life in the time of coronavirus is drawing to a close. Per CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people need only wear masks under certain circumstances, and life as we used to know it is resuming, albeit with modifications. The CDC’s announcement about masks is general guidance, but each municipality, state and organization, including Georgetown, will determine how best to apply it within their environment.

I look forward to it, as I am sure you do, though I remain curious as to which pandemic adaptations will endure. Outdoor restaurant seating, Zoom and related meeting approaches, new ways of shopping and an appreciation of home all seem to be here to stay in one form or another. How we balance work and home offices will be interesting as well.

Clearly, vaccinations have been decisive, and represent a triumph of science over ignorance, and of facts over spin. Just think of it; we went from lockdown to reopening in only 14 months because we were scientifically prepared by people doing pretty fundamental research, technologically adept and, despite political and cultural resistance on many fronts, capable of mounting a remarkable vaccine rollout in a few short months. When histories of this time are written, this may well be the enduring headline.

If you have not yet been vaccinated, please do so. It may save your life.

Stay safe and be well.

Lou

 


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May 09 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 418

by at 11:20 pm

I can feel life beginning to return to normal. Traffic is becoming bothersome, and people are out and about. I still see lots of masks, so people continue to exercise precautions in our region. That said, restaurants are filling up, people are shopping and there is a hum in the city. We’ve even gone out to restaurants, though only with other vaccinated couples, and we still prefer to sit outside when it is possible. While the analogy to this moment in history is certainly imperfect, I can understand how cities can be bustling under some wartime conditions. Human civilization is remarkably resilient.

Research density on our campus is slowly returning to normal. As we begin to intensify our work on the competitive renewal of our CCSG, I continue to marvel at the resilience of Georgetown Lombardi’s research. Lombardi’s scientists have published — a lot — despite the many very real obstacles to conducting our work. In fact, just yesterday we learned that our work on the use of BXCL701, a broad inhibitor of dipeptidyl peptidases, as a potentiator of PD1 antibody therapy in murine models of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, is potentially acceptable with revisions in the Journal of Immunotherapy of Cancer (JITC). Kudos to Allison Fitzgerald, Shangzi Wang, Zoe Malchiodi and the rest of our lab for getting this work done while adhering to Georgetown’s research density and social distancing requirements. As a side note, JITC was a bit of an also-ran journal for many years until the recent boom of interest in cancer immunotherapy; now it has an impact factor of 10.252, making it a “high impact” paper in the CCSG world. Go figure!

Over the weekend, we set up a new bicycle rack on one of our cars. We are taking bikes to the beach this coming weekend, as I plan to do a lot of training there for the BellRinger. Fundraising for my ride is now up to $19,651, but I have a few tricks left up my sleeve! My team has been formed, and if you don’t have a team and want one to join, please join mine.

Today is Mother’s Day, and Elana and her family are coming over so we can celebrate together. So, you’ll forgive me if this week’s blog is a bit shorter than usual. I have grandchildren to hug.

Stay safe and be well.

Lou

PS: I am excited to be able to introduce Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, as the speaker at Monday’s Dean’s Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. You can access his talk, titled “The National Cancer Institute: Leading Cancer Research in 2021 and Beyond,” at https://georgetown.zoom.us/j/99000519541. Please make every effort to attend.

 

 


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May 03 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 412

by at 7:15 am

What a beautiful weekend! It was a real BellRinger. At the time of my writing this blog, I don’t know this week’s rider numbers (though I have raised $13,626), but we finished setting up Harriet’s new bike and went out for a short ride on Sunday in the neighborhood. I rode a bike that my son-in-law Ben loaned me as I wait for my new bike to be delivered. Though I raised the seat up, the bike frame is way too small for me, so I rode around looking a bit like a clown in the circus. But, it was a start.

This week I will be forming my team for the BellRinger ride. If you have not formed a team or are looking for one, join me! Lou’s BiKEs Team has a double meaning. A few years ago, Dan Vallera, a colleague from the University of Minnesota, wanted to create a new type of bispecific antibody that targets both cancer cells and human natural killer cells through the activating receptor Fc-gamma R3, also known as CD16. He turned to me because we had developed and clinically tested the very first bispecific antibody targeting both cancer cells and CD16-expressing human natural killer cells. He knew that we also had previously isolated a single-chain Fv antibody fragment that targets CD16, and had used it to create our own bispecific structure known as a trimeric, bispecific antibody that targeted the breast cancer antigen HER2/neu and CD16; we called this structure a TriBi, and had published our results in 2004. Dan and his colleagues used this CD16 construct to create a bispecific killer engager (i.e., a BiKE) and a trispecific variant known as a TRiKE. Both have undergone clinical development. So, I have some experience in exploiting the power of BiKEs to end cancer by engaging the power of the body’s immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. While TRiKEs are promising, they are not fast enough to cover 50 or 100 miles in October.  Lou’s BiKE Team will build on that symbolism one rider and one mile at a time. Join me!

I am increasingly optimistic that we’ll have no pandemic-related limitations by October. In fact, I look forward to the upcoming gradual relaxation of restrictions on our research operations over the next few months. I cannot wait, and will bet that you can’t either. However, please take care to observe all necessary precautions to assure our mutual safety.

Be well.

Lou

 


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.

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