Archive for June, 2021


Jun 28 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 468

by at 7:30 am

Life is slowly ramping up to normal. I spent some time on campus on Wednesday, and it was wonderful to run into colleagues and chat informally; that is one thing that will never be replaced by Zoom. While wandering around the Research Building, I was still struck by the quiet and the sparse foot traffic. I can’t wait until we are back to the usual hustle and bustle.

The week was highlighted by a presentation to COMCA, the Georgetown Board of Directors’ Committee on Medical Center Affairs. The agenda was compressed, but I provided a 10-minute overview and Marc Lippman provided a wonderful example of the value of thinking “outside the box” to address critical issues in breast cancer.

My presentation included a “vision for the future” slide that was linked to our strategic plan, abridged to address the moment and to give COMCA an insight into the ways we can make future progress. I’ve included the slide at the end of this blog post. If you don’t see yourself in it, please don’t fret. It was not meant to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative of the ways we can move forward, particularly in collaboration with MedStar Health and Hackensack Meridian Health.

Have a great week, and a wonderful July 4 holiday. My blog will return in two weeks.

Stay safe and be well.


A PowerPoint slide with text, transcription follows image

Text of slide is as follows:

Vision for LCCC’s Future

Expand High Volume Clinical Care to Blood Cancers
– Make LCCC the “place to go” for people with blood cancers in the DC region

Cellular lmmunotherapy
– LCCC to be the dominant provider of cutting-edge cell therapies (e g., BMT, CAR-T cells) in DC and NJ
– LCCC research will inform the design and analysis of cell therapies

Expand Portfolio of Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials Connected to LCCC Science
– Offer tomorrow’s treatments today, further marking MH and HMH as “go-to” destinations for cancer care

Robust Technology Platforms to Support Cutting Edge Research
– Shared resources to promote biomedical research
– Computational biology/data science

Virtuoso Research with an Expanding Funding Base — Aim for $30M ADC Cancer-Focused Funding by 2025
– Research Programs

– Breast Cancer (BC)
– Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC)
– Molecular and Experimental Translational Research in Oncology (METRO)

– Research Themes

– Precision Medicine, Tobacco Control, Survivorship, Genomics, Tumor: Host and Tumor: Microbiome Interactions, lmmunotherapy, GI Cancers, Minority Health Disparities, Aging, Global Health

Community Outreach and Engagement
– Create a highly visible presence in DC and NJ with a focus on underserved minorities

Cancer Research Training and Education
– Cancer-focused training and mentoring from middle school through professorial appointments, with focus on underserved minorities

Everything Informed by a Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Georgetown’s Jesuit Principle of Cura Personalis


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Jun 21 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 461

by at 7:15 am

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend and found a way to commemorate Juneteenth as well. We drove back to the beach this past Thursday evening, after my clinic, and have enjoyed a relaxing few days, punctuated by various work-related activities. Chief among them is work on my Director’s Overview for the CCSG competitive renewal. We have so many wonderful accomplishments to describe, and it will be a privilege to share the story of LCCC’s transformation in the overview.

I am continuing to ride my new bike. For Father’s Day, Harriet bought me a contraption that allows me to convert the bike into a stationary bike that I can ride inside or under the house when the weather is inclement. The more I ride, the more I like it. I am grateful to the BellRinger for stimulating me to rediscover the joys of a bike ride on the road. I hope I never forget it. I also hope you don’t forget to sign up to ride in the BellRinger and, better yet, to form a team.

On the COVID-19 front, this weekend we learned that 300 million doses have been administered in the United States in only six months. That is simply amazing, but even more gobsmacking is the fact that many of the remaining unvaccinated Americans have no intention of ever receiving their injections. I will never understand why anyone, faced with irrefutable data that the vaccine is overwhelmingly effective and quite safe, would choose to not protect themselves, their loved ones and their fellow citizens. While any vaccine refusenik has the right to make that choice, that right should not be confused with wisdom or truth. They are wrong, purely and simply. I hope that their decisions do not cost any of them their lives. It would be much safer to be an anti-vaxxer after we have achieved true herd immunity, and not when we are still in the midst of a viral pandemic with increasingly nasty variants emerging like clockwork.

Meanwhile, life on the GU campus is slowly stirring to life. I can’t wait to return to work, even if it is only for a few days per week at the beginning.

Have a great week. Stay safe and be well.




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Jun 14 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 454

by at 7:15 am

Life in the time of coronavirus is beginning to revert to normal. No masks. Feels kinda normal… Vaccines work.

What a glorious weekend! We are at the beach, as is my new bicycle. We got here on Saturday afternoon, and I took advantage of the opportunity to do a 10-mile bike ride along Coastal Highway on Sunday. I had an absolute blast. My legs are well conditioned as a result of my stationary bike workouts at home, but my wrists and hands were not used to my prolonged death grip on the handlebars. No matter; I plan to continue riding as I gear up for the BellRinger ride in October. I am still looking for you to join my team; remember that I can provide up to $500 in vouchers to defray your fundraising commitment should you have difficulty in raising the money. As of today, we have 22 teams and 80 riders across the university, and have already raised over $200,000. Join me!

The past week was highlighted by an informal reception at the Glover Park Grill on Friday afternoon to say thank you and goodbye to Subha Madahavan, who joined us in 2008, and is moving on to a wonderful new opportunity at AstraZeneca. Subha, a genuine force of nature, made innumerable contributions to Lombardi during her time at Georgetown. I took the liberty of lifting some text from her farewell message (see below), in case you did not have a chance to read it. I am sure you will agree she leaves with a remarkable legacy.

Please join me in wishing nothing but the best for Subha as she embarks on the next stage of her career. It has been an absolute privilege to work with her, and it is nice to know that she will continue to be part of our work, albeit in an adjunct capacity, moving forward.

Stay safe and be well.


From Subha:

As I look back on my 12 years at Georgetown, I am struck by how far data science and informatics have come at the University, and how different the medical center looks in 2021 compared to 2009. I have been asked many times during the last month what I consider to be my most cherished accomplishments at Georgetown. Although I cannot answer that question comprehensively, given the number and variety of field-changing innovations occurring nationally and globally that our team has either led or participated in, I will mention a few here:

  1. We established the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics (ICBI) as a hub for cutting-edge research in biomedical informatics at GUMC.
  2. We envisioned and developed Georgetown Database of Cancer (G-DOC), one of the first web-based, now patented, Systems Medicine platforms used by over 2000 researchers from 48 countries to conduct cancer genomics research. On August 17th, 2018, then head of Biden Foundation and the Cancer Moonshot program, President Biden congratulated Lombardi for making a valuable brain tumor dataset freely available to the cancer research community through G-DOC. He not only posted about this on Twitter but also placed a personal phone call to our Cancer Center.
  3. We were an integral part of the joint team between Georgetown University and Medstar health that led the establishment of a data sharing and a Business Associate Agreement that enabled institution-wide secondary use of patient data for research purposes. This agreement has been the foundation that catalyzed multiple funding opportunities for the University including but not limited to, Georgetown Howard Universities CTSA, Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries, In Silico Centers of Excellence for Cancer Genomics, Clinical Genomics Resource, Big Data to Knowledge Consortium (BD2K), and Clinical Proteomics Tumor Consortium.
  4. In partnership with UIS, we implemented and maintained the REDCap clinical data platform which supported over 100 investigators across 270 projects in multiple areas — biospecimen repository (55%), translational medicine (22%), clinical research/experimental therapeutics (9%), quality of life improvement (9%), behavioral and psychological research (5%). Novel high impact projects supported through this platform include the study of HIV transmission dynamics in Washington DC, the lung screening program, tobacco and health clinical study, DecideText, mobile cessation support for Latino smokers and a study to develop new treatments for language disorders.
  5. We co-developed and launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the edX platform titled “Demystifying Big Data” with >6,000 students registered across the globe.
  6. We led the University team with collaborators across medical and main campus in various data science challenges including NCI DREAM, Kaggle, COVID data challenge, PrecisionFDA and many others.
  7. Our capacity to develop highly usable informatics and data science methods and tools in collaboration with the basic, translational and clinical research communities is reflected in our participation in the Global Alliance for Genomics Health (GA4GH), The Cancer Genome Atlas, ClinGen, NCI Data Commons, R2D2 COVID consortium and many others.
  8. Our commitment to open science to improve reproducibility and reuse is witnessed by 56 active software development projects on ICBI’s GITHUB ( These toolsets include components of G-DOC, CDGNet for cancer genomics networks, eGARD for natural language processing of unstructured research and clinical texts, SNP2SIM for computation simulation of protein binding, ViGen for viral genome analysis and CINIndex for assessing chromosomal aberrations.
  9. We developed novel artificial intelligence methods to derive insights from health data for detecting suicidal ideation among veterans, predicting opioid overuse in surgical patients, and extracting immune-related adverse events in cancer patients treated with immunotherapies.
  10. Partnering with Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, we launched the Cloud-First initiative for machine learning-driven biomedical discovery at the University.
  11. In collaboration with BGE, we launched a new graduate program in health informatics and data science (HIDS) to educate the next generation of data scientists who will transform how medicine is practiced and research is conducted. In spite of the global pandemic, the graduate program continues to attract students from around the globe.
  12. Our annual Big Data in Biomedicine Symposium attracted over 300 participants each year from academia, federal agencies and private industry since its launch in 2012.
  13. Above all, we recruited and trained >25 data scientists and informaticians who have thriving careers in academia, government or industry.



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Jun 07 2021

Life in the Time of Corona(virus) – Day 447

by at 7:15 am

Summer has arrived a bit early. Harriet and I drove up to northern New Jersey for a wedding this weekend and spent time with Dave, Kelly and their kids. Their son Clark is now over 3 months old and is doing wonderfully well, showing no obvious effects from his major heart surgery shortly after his birth. His robust health is a true testament to the miracles of modern medicine; without that surgery, he would be nothing but a memory by now.

A long ride home from New York City on Sunday was notable for the traffic and the massive lines at rest areas on the New Jersey Turnpike for gas and food. Based on what I saw, we will know pretty soon whether the current levels of immunization indeed have minimized community spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, back at work, things are as busy as ever. We now have less than a year for the submission of our CCSG competitive renewal, and we are busy implementing our strategic plan and preparing our section write-ups for ongoing review. It may be hot and hazy, but there will be no lazy days this summer.

Stay safe and be well.



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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