Archive for the 'Administration' Category


Mar 17 2013

March Madness

by at 8:12 pm

I hope you had a great weekend. As I write this on Sunday night, Georgetown’s basketball team just found out it is seeded #2 in its region, and will have a chance to go deep into this year’s NCAA tournament. Good luck to the Hoyas! Hopefully, the team got losing out of its system after it fell to the hated yet respected Syracuse Orangemen on Friday night. I wasn’t able to watch the game because we were out with friends at a new Russian restaurant in the District called Mari Vanna. It was quite an experience. And, they served food with the vodka!

Harriet walked with the CBCC-Lombardi team on Saturday morning in preparation for this year’s Avon Walk. As of this evening the team has 60 members and already has raised $52,000; this is the best showing yet. The passion of the walkers is quite remarkable. And, even if you can’t walk, you can help too. Not every walker will be able to independently raise all of the money ($1800) that he or she needs in order to actually do the walk. If you go to the Avon Walk’s website for the team, you can identify those people who are struggling to make their goals. If you can, and if you wish, you can select one of those fine people and click directly on their name to contribute. Even a little will mean a lot to their fundraising efforts. No amount is too small, and every bit helps.

I spent the weekend writing support letters and helping with protocols for two candidates for the annual Clinical Methods Workshop in Vail. Plus I have been looking over the current drafts of my sections and the program descriptions for the CCSG Competitive Renewal. We have an intense volley of conference calls scheduled with our external advisors who have read the various sections, setting the stage for the preparation of our final drafts. Carolyn Hurley and Ellen McLaughlin intend to send the final document to the printers at the beginning of May. I can’t wait!

But there is a lot more going on than just the CCSG. On Monday, I attended the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors meeting on the NIH campus. I learned some interesting tidbits – for example, the number of principal investigators has been trimmed over the past few years from 315 to 250 in response to budgetary pressures. And, while the specific issues are not the same for the intramural program, there is no doubt that they are feeling the pain caused by sequestration just as we do in the extramural community. I heard some extramural horror stories as well. I know that information provides cold comfort, but it’s nice to know that we are not alone.

After the meeting I hustled back to our campus to attend a “Thank You” reception for Lisa Krim, who served as interim general counsel for the University prior to the appointment of Lisa Brown in January. Lisa Krim will be returning to her previous duties, which include a lot of focus on the Medical Center.  On Tuesday I participated in the Thesis Committee meeting of one of my students, Joe Murray, who continues to make me wish I could delay his graduation for a decade or two.

That evening, I headed downtown for a meeting of the Men’s Event for Prostate Cancer’s Kick-Off event. This event competes with our Women and Wine Event, which was held last week and attracted more than 400 participants, raising a record amount of money for research in cancers that predominantly affect women. The men are worried that they can’t catch up with the women, whose event has really taken off. However, Elena Jeannotte, who does a spectacular job with both events, and I are sure that the men can come through. Talk about a healthy competition!

The rest of the week was filled with productive work, highlighted by a visit to MedStar Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, as we identify new ways to strengthen the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Network. And this coming week promises to be quite busy, but productive too.

I hope you have a great week. And good luck to the Hoyas in March Madness!

No responses yet | Categories: Administration,CCSG,Events,Uncategorized

Mar 10 2013

Avon Walk Team Surging in Numbers

by at 5:41 pm

Greetings on a glorious Sunday afternoon. Harriet and I just got back from Philadelphia, where we attended the wedding of our oldest son’s best friend dating back to elementary school. It was beautiful. We are about to take a walk into Georgetown for a bite.

Speaking of walks, I am humbled and excited to report that the Lombardi/CBCC Avon Walk for breast cancer team now has 58 members, and has raised more than $44,000 already, placing it solidly in second place among the DC Walk teams. What a difference from 2008, when the team had five walkers, a handful of cheerers and raised less than $10,000. Congratulations to Jeanne Mandelblatt, who is the inspiration and driving force behind the team. Like Lombardi, the team has grown and is having a disproportionate impact for an incredibly important cause. You can contribute or participate as a walker (it’s not too late!) by going to this website.  You can also help cheer on the team by contacting Jeanne.

The past week flew by – I left DC on Monday afternoon for a meeting in Chicago, which ended on Wednesday afternoon. I then headed for O’Hare Airport, where my 4 pm plane had been canceled in anticipation of the snowstorm that wasn’t. Fortunately, I was able to get on a 7:30 flight, and landed at about 10:30 to a beautiful starlit night, clear, dry roads and snow that existed only in the imagination. Thursday was not too busy; I judged a few of the posters in the annual Lombardi Research Days competition, and then had an afternoon clinic. I was able to attend the GUMC Town Hall regarding the proposed freeze of staff salaries, and I certainly echo Ken Dretchen’s eloquent sentiments that the work we do could not occur without our dedicated staff, whose interests must be fully considered as all of Georgetown deals with fiscal constraints that have been imposed by external forces.

On Friday, the highlight was the afternoon reception to honor the Lombardi Research Days poster winners, one of whom was Casey Shuptrine from my lab. I certainly had nothing to do with the judging of his poster, but was personally delighted for him and happy to know that others share my high opinion of his project. After that reception I rushed home, put on a tux and headed over to the National Building Museum for the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s annual spring Gala, sponsored this year by the Italian Embassy. Bo Aldige, who also serves on CBCC’s Community Advisory Council and the Ruesch Center’s Advocacy Board, has done a marvelous job with her organization for many years, and it was my pleasure to support its cause, accompanied by Harriet, Joe Teague, Beppe Giaccone, and Waddah Al-Refaie and his wife Thuraya.

Preparations for our CCSG renewal are accelerating, and below I include another installment from the Director’s Overview. We really have accomplished so much as a Cancer  Center over the past four years, and it has been very rewarding to actually pull it all together.

Enjoy the coming week, and what may finally be the first glimmers of spring.

Breast Cancer Focused Research
·       The First Roadmap for Mathematically Modeling Estrogen Signaling and Cell Fate Is Reported (Clarke [BC]; Tyson, Nat Rev Cancer 2011). Work arising from a multi-investigator program grant (U54CA149147) led by the LCCC Breast Cancer Program involves investigators from Virginia Tech, Fox Chase Cancer Center and George Mason University. This team created the first roadmap presenting preliminary mathematical models of the basic decision circuits for apoptosis, autophagy, and the unfolded protein response and incorporating data on a panel of genes from studies by the LCCC. The overall model now also incorporates key changes in the metabolome and the integration of signaling that regulates UPR, apoptosis, autophagy, and cell fate. Further modifications to the models are expected based on the results of functional genomic studies in this program grant performed by Weiner (ET). Impact: This collaborative effort utilizes mathematical tools to better understand complex signaling networks that influence breast cancer cell fate.
·       Key Molecular Features Are Identified That Drive Estrogen-Induced Inhibition Of Breast Cancer Growth (Jordan; Ariazi, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011).  Jordan identified that exposure of estrogen to anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer cells surprisingly led to apoptosis and inhibition of tumor growth.  Subsequent research supported by a DoD Center of Excellence grant (W81XWH-06 Jordan, PI) has identified ER stress through molecules such as PERK as a contributing mechanism. This work has led to an ongoing translational clinical trial at LCCC and at Fox Chase Cancer Center, evaluating low dose estrogen therapy for endocrine resistant metastatic breast cancer.  Impact: This work describes the clinically exploitable mechanisms underlying a novel approach to reversing resistance to anti-estrogens.
·       (Sca)-1/ly6A Is a Suppressor of TGFβ Signaling (Glazer [BC], Upadhyay, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011). Downstream signaling initiated by activation of the TGFβ pathway has long been implicated in affecting endocrine responsiveness in breast cancer. NIH R01 (R01CA111482) supported work by Glazer identified (Sca)-1/ly6A as a suppressor of TGFβ signaling. This suppression results in increased expression of the TGFβ ligand GDF10 and the selective activation of TGFβ receptor dependent Smad3 phosphorylation. Impact: This work identifies a novel mechanism for suppressing TGFb signaling in breast cancer development that may lead to new strategies to overcome endocrine unresponsiveness.
·       Some Familial Breast Cancers May Be Transmitted Through Heritable Epigenetic Changes  (Hilakivi-Clarke (BC); de Assis, Nature Commun 2012). Supported by a U54 (U54CA149147; PI, Clarke, Hilakivi-Clarke) and an R21 award (R21ES013858), Hilakivi-Clarke and colleagues successfully showed that physiologically relevant variations in estrogenicity in utero in one generation altered susceptibility of the mammary gland to carcinogenesis for three subsequent generations in a rat mammary cancer model. These trans-generational effects were maintained by epigenetic modifications. An ongoing study in Swedish women is evaluating whether the gene methylation patterns seen in experimental models are also altered in peripheral DNA from girls whose mothers had high estrogen levels during pregnancy. Impact: This work identifies potential biomarkers of familial breast cancers.
Clinical Research with Translational Implications and Endpoints
·       LCCC Leads and Conducts Impactful Clinical Trials. Swain (BC), currently serving as President of ASCO, has led a number of national cooperative group trials in breast cancer (Swain; New Engl J Med 2010; Swain, New Engl J Med 2012; Swain, New Engl J Med 2012). Cheson (ET) serves as Lombardi’s PI for Alliance and the PI for the recently submitted U10 grant and has led that group’s lymphoma committee with distinction for many years [e.g., Br J Haematol 2013, J Clin Onc 2011, Leuk Lymph 2011].  These have been supplemented by many other important investigator-initiated clinical trials, e.g., Hwang, Clin Cancer Res 2010—Phase I study of a small molecule pan-BCL-2 family antagonist in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma, Deeken, Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2012—Phase I study of liposome-encapsulated docitaxel in patients with advanced solid tumors; Pishvaian, Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2012—Phase I study of imatinib and paclitaxel in patients with advanced or metastatic refractory solid tumors, Isaacs, Breast Cancer Res Treat 2011—Phase I/II study of sorafenib in hormone receptor positive aromatase inhibitor resistant metastatic breast cancer, Liu, J Clin Oncol 2009—circulating tumor cells predict treatment efficacy in metastatic breast cancer.

·       A Novel Rapid Computational Proteo-Chemometric Method Facilitates Screening of Existing Drugs for Anti-Cancer Purposes (Dakshanamurthy [ET], J Med Chem 2012 with Byers [MO]). The “Train, Match, Fit, Streamline” (TMFS) method was used to map new drug-target interactions and predict new uses for existing drugs. Using TMFS, the investigators performed extensive molecular fit computations on 3,671 FDA approved drugs across 2,335 human protein crystal structures to accurately predict drug-target associations. The activity of several identified drugs has been confirmed experimentally. A clinical trial involving mebendozole, one of the identified drugs, is planned (Pishvaian [ET] PI).  In collaboration with the High Performance Computing Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, through the Georgetown-Howard Universities CTSA, Dakshanamurthy has exported TMFS to the >27,000 clinically active agents available worldwide across all targets in the Protein Data Bank. Impact: This approach to drug repurposing offers new translational opportunities that can be rapidly identified and implemented using currently available drugs.

·       Novel Mechanisms of Resistance for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-Targeted Therapy Are Identified as Potential Targets (Weiner [ET], Sci Signal 2010). Synthetic lethal screening to identify molecular determinants of resistance to EGFR-targeted therapy by Weiner, Experimental Therapeutics Program member, has led to the identification of molecular targets (e.g., c-abl) whose inhibition enhances the anti-tumor activity and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity promoted by cetuximab. The combination of cetuximab and nilotinib, a c-abl inhibitor, is now being studied in an investigator-initiated clinical trial (Deeken [ET] PI). Impact: This work identifies sensitive nodes in a complex, clinically relevant signaling network that can be attacked.

·       Development of a Cancer-Focused Informatics Platform Facilitates Identification of Factors That Impact Outcome (Madhavan [ET], Neoplasia 2011). G-DOC® was developed to provide a mechanism for integrating a variety of clinical and research data types to identify trends and patterns in integrated datasets, supporting the development of patient-specific treatments based on the biology of each patient’s tumor. This resource includes molecular and clinical outcome data for more than 3,600 breast cancer and 1,200 gastrointestinal cancer patients, with substantial peer-reviewed funding. ET members have integrated “multi-omic” data in G-DOC to identify a immune response–related prognostic profile for patients with early-stage colorectal cancer. These intriguing findings have potential to both impact the selection of patients for adjuvant therapy and influence the nature of adjuvant therapy research. Impact: This work has created a foundation for systems based approaches to cancer research at LCCC.

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Oct 29 2012

Reminiscences on Frankenstorm Eve

by at 12:41 am

It’s hard to review the past week while awaiting a truly disruptive weather event. Hopefully, you will have power to be able to fire up your computer to read this if are inclined to do so. As I sit here this evening it appears that we will be pounded with about 6 inches of rain over the next two days or so, with accompanying high winds. Floods and electrical outlets are anticipated. I hope everyone is safe. GUMC is closed, so I won’t be parking my car in the outdoor lot to serve as bait for falling tree limbs (or trees)! Plus, I was scheduled to be on jury service starting on Monday morning; however, DC government is closed, so I don’t know what will happen. However, we have all of the necessities to ride out the storm (we hope).

The past week was a bit of a blur, anyway. I left for Copenhagen on Sunday evening, and had a quick, busy but generally pleasant trip. After 2 days of meetings, I caught a flight back to the States on Wednesday afternoon.

During the trip I was able to secure an opportunity to conduct synthetic lethal screening of our EGFR library using a cocktail of antibodies targeting HER2, HER3 and EGFR. It is an interesting approach to sweeping the EGFR family off the cell surface, and I look forward to conducting the studies. While I was gone, Habtom Ressom met with Sandy Jablonski and Chip Petricoin (he is from George Mason University) to analyze data from a very interesting phosphoproteomic experiment in which estrogen-independent breast cancer cells undergo knockdown of one of four genes known to be selectively lethal to these cells. The preliminary analysis is absolutely fascinating. Interestingly, Chip and colleagues are actively collaborating with us to study the pan-HER antibody cocktail as well.

On Thursday I caught up with work in the morning, and then had a busy afternoon of clinic. I then hurried off to the Blue Hope Bash gala at the Park Hyatt to support the Chris4Life Foundation, which has pledged more than $1 million to support colon cancer research and clinical care at Lombardi. Chris4Life  is under the inspired leadership of Mike Sapienza, whose mother Chris Sapienza lost her battle to colon cancer a few years ago. It was a lovely evening.

Friday was highlighted by a chat with Ellen Pure of the Wistar Institute, who presented our Visiting Professor seminar. Ellen is a long-time acquaintance due to our shared interest in fibroblast activation protein. It was great to catch up with her, and I thought her seminar was very interesting. Thanks to Chunling Yi for the inspiration to invite her!

Later that day I met with Elena Jeannotte to go over final plans for the 26th Lombardi Gala, which will be held this coming Saturday, Nov. 3. It should be a great event, and I look forward to honoring both Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots) and Barbara McDuffie, who is one of Lombardi’s true heros – she has done so much to raise money for the cause, and is an inspiration to all of us. And, I was able to convince Elena that I should not follow DeMaurice Smith on the podium – nobody can follow someone with his passion, eloquence and message. Thanks, Elena, for all of the work you do for Lombardi, and for removing me from the anti-climactic role!

Stay warm and dry, everyone.

No responses yet | Categories: Administration

Sep 17 2012

Regrouping After Productive EAC Visit

by at 8:45 am

Last week simply zoomed by. After a busy day of meetings on Monday, our External Advisory Committee (EAC) came into town, and we had a wonderful dinner that evening. The following day was devoted to the formal EAC meeting. After I provided an overview, the group reviewed our programs, shared resources and administrative components. It was a long, very productive day, and we received invaluable feedback. We have already begun acting on the EAC’s recommendations while we await their formal written feedback.

Now the real fun begins. We meet with NCI later this week for a formal pre-application meeting. Along with this, we are beginning to modify our write ups to reflect the EAC comments and suggestions, and intend to have high-quality second drafts done in the next couple of months. These drafts will be sent out to a separate group of ad hoc reviewers to assure we are getting broad and diverse feedback.

On Wednesday I left to be at the University of Wisconsin CCSG site visit. As I have mentioned earlier, simply reviewing the work done at Wisconsin was remarkably useful and informative. And, being at the site visit gave me a better sense of what reviewers look for when evaluating cancer centers, and how hard the reviewers work. The site visit ended on Friday morning, and two plane flights later I landed in Philadelphia, meeting Harriet, who had driven up earlier that day from DC.

We had dinner with our son Ken and his wife Sarah, and on Saturday I played golf with an old friend. I shot an 85 (very good for me), but my friend Michael trumped that by scoring a hole in one on a 183-yard par three hole. I have never had or witnessed a hole in one in person, so that was pretty neat.

Then we attended a surprise birthday party for a dear friend. Both she and her husband are cancer survivors – she received curative chemotherapy five years ago for a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and he underwent curative surgery for a malignant salivary gland tumor about 15 years ago. Both of them exemplify the progress that has been made in the field of oncology – and provide us with a reminder that two of every three Americans diagnosed with cancer now can expect to be cured. It was especially sweet to celebrate a big milestone with them.

Harriet and I will stay in Philadelphia though Monday to be with my father for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is customary to celebrate the Rosh Hashanah with apples and honey, as a symbol of hopes for a sweet year. That sounds like a wonderful thing to do, regardless of one’s religious beliefs!

Have a great week and a sweet year.

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Mar 04 2012

Revisiting a Transatlantic Memory

by at 9:32 pm

I hope you enjoyed a weekend that turned out to have remarkably good weather. Harriet and I took advantage of the lovely day on Sunday to walk to the American Museum of National History; I had not been there for years. It was a really interesting few hours, and I was a bit surprised to be so moved by the exhibit showing the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry, and was the subject of the Star Spangled Banner.

I was also delighted to see an exhibit about the SS United States. Built after World War II, this ship was once the fastest and fourth largest commercial ocean liner in the world. As a child I sailed on the SS United States with my family, to meet my maternal grandparents and my extended family in Belgium. Even though I was quite young I have so many fond memories of that trip. Throughout elementary school I was known as the little boy who had been to Belgium (overseas travel was still quite exotic to residents of the Philadelphia suburbs). I must have drawn hundreds of renditions of that boat (all of them poorly) following our return. So, seeing the exhibit this weekend was like unexpectedly running into an old friend.

The work week was interesting as well. I had a productive dinner meeting with MedStar Cancer Network leadership, which continues to be developed as a clinical and clinical research enterprise. Don’t you think that MedStar’s new commercials are compelling and effective? As we roll out the Cancer Network, this type of advertising could prove to be very powerful.

Thursday was particularly memorable. I was one of the judges for Lombardi’s annual Research Day, and tried to see as many posters as possible. As was true last year, I was deeply impressed by the depth and excellence of the work done by our students and trainees. It was great fun to talk withthe poster presenters, and then to help preside over the award ceremony on Friday. Congratulations to all of the winners, and thanks to everybody who participated. I was very happy for Joe Murray, an MD/PhD student in my laboratory, who took home a prize; he has done a great job, and like everyone in my lab, he makes me look better than I really am!

On Thursday afternoon I had clinic. For those of you who have followed my recent blogs, you will remember my young patient with metastatic colon cancer. He came in for a visit, feeling better, with more energy, less abdominal cramping but continued abdominal pain requiring narcotics. He is continuing to receive chemotherapy, and will come back in a bit more than a month if all goes well, with a CT scan performed to assess his response to therapy. We are all hoping for a good report, so he can focus on his new child, and so we can move forward towards definitive surgery for his colon cancer, and perhaps, his liver metastases as well.  Once his colonic primary has been removed, we then hope to be able to add bevacizumab to his treatment regimen; this anti-VEGF antibody can cause bleeding and perforation when the colonic or rectal primary is in place.

Help me. I need better treatments for this young man, and for every other patient. Every person with cancer is important to so many people, and he is no exception. For all of their sakes, we need to act with urgency.We also need better ways to assess risk, modify lifestyles  and prevent cancer. This can only be done through research and discovery. This is what gets me out of bed every morning. How about you?


No responses yet | Categories: Administration,Clinic,Research,Uncategorized

Aug 26 2011

Guest Blogger: The Amazing Sum of Our Parts

by at 8:43 am

When Lou Weiner asked me to be the faculty coordinator of our next competitive CCSG application, I knew what I was getting into. In 2002, I worked with Drs. Cullen, Dickson and Pestell in this role.  This time around, I will be working in a team with Lou, Steve Byers and Ellen McLaughlin.

With our application date set for May 2013, we have jumped right into planning. Our first steps have been to meet individually with the leaders of each CCSG component: programs; cross-cutting initiatives; shared resources; clinical activities; and administration. We are reviewing the CCSG requirements and identifying areas that need attention. While cancer-focused, high-impact research and investigator-initiated clinical trials are high priorities, we are also tasked to demonstrate that Georgetown Lombardi is more than a sum of its individual components.

It reminds me of pointillist paintings like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat where individual dots of paint form an amazing picture. So how do we show our amazing picture to the reviewers? Joint publications and multi-investigator grants provide examples of how our investigators work together to tackle complex problems in cancer.

The support of the Cancer Center and the University in the form of shared resources and pilot funding to our individual research programs demonstrates how this environment helps everyone succeed. Georgetown Lombardi has recently asked the faculty to update their publications so we can document our research activities, show interactions among investigators, and demonstrate use of the shared resources.

I want to thank all of you who have provided this information to your program specialists.  For those who have not, please send those updates soon.  There is a lot of information that we need to collect and collate before May 2013 and we will be doing that throughout the following months with your help. It will take all of us to paint our picture.  I am looking forward to its unveiling in May 2013!

No responses yet | Categories: Administration,CCSG,Uncategorized

Jul 24 2011

No Escaping the Summer Heat

by at 9:09 pm

I hope everyone has survived the remarkable heat wave we’ve had for the past week or so.

It was a quiet week since so many folks are on vacation, so I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of work. Of course, we’ve carved out some time for fun too. Two weekends ago we had a truly thrilling experience. We went up to New York City to see the Broadway Musical, “Sister Act,” which is based on the movie of the same name. The musical score is by Alan Menken, who co-wrote many of the big Disney musical movies and shows (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and many more). The show is terrific. However, the real attraction for us is one of the show’s featured actresses, Marla Mindelle, who is our niece. Marla plays the role of Sister Mary Roberts, and does a wonderful job – and even sings the “11:00 number,” a ballad called  ‘The Life I’ve Never Known.” It was a special experience for us.

This past weekend was less dramatic, but lots of fun as we spent time in Baltimore visiting friends and family. And, on Saturday, I played golf (we had an early tee time and drank lots of water, as the temperature got into the 100-degree range by the time we were on the back nine). The nice thing about playing in horrible weather conditions is that I have a built in excuse for my score!

This past Monday I participated in a senior review panel of candidates for NIH’s Lasker awards, which are designed to attract talented young investigators to spend time at NIH during their “assistant professor” years. The rest of the week was highlighted by beginning to write a grant to respond the the NIH U01 for new target discovery, sprinkled among various meetings.

I had an interesting Friday, as I foolishly had agreed to allow our sons to switch vehicles. This meant that my younger son now gets to drive the family’s 13-year-old Toyota 4Runner, but because the vehicle is in my name, I had to take it for DC inspection and registration. The process only took about four hours, most of it spent either waiting in line at the inspection station on Half Street or in the Georgetown branch DMV office. Root canal would have been more fun.

This was a painful reminder that it is time to transfer the car’s title to my son David so he can enjoy the experience without my involvement. I am looking forward to the coming week, which can only represent an improvement over Friday’s activities!

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Jun 20 2011

An Intense and Productive Week

by at 10:55 am

So, this past week has been quite a stretch for my family and me. As many of you know, our oldest son was married on June 12 in Cape May, NJ. It was a magical experience for our family, but it was truly a whirlwind of activity.

After getting back into town I then had a highly compressed but intense few days of work. We have been extensively debriefing on our recent EAB meeting, and I look forward to reporting on the meeting in more detail at the upcoming Sector Faculty meeting today and at the town hall meeting on July 12.

 On Tuesday afternoon I drove up to Olney to visit Montgomery General Hospital for a meeting about our network activities there. It was a great meeting, and the facility is quite lovely to boot. I also got a chance to try out the new ICC; in theory it should speed up travel there from Georgetown, but I still managed to get caught in traffic on I-270 for about 20 extra minutes on the way back home.

Wednesday was filled with meetings, highlighted by a trip with Subha Madhavan and other GU colleagues to discuss possible research collaborations with the INOVA Research Institute in Fairfax. It was another reminder of how powerful our research capabilities are, and how desirable we are as a partner.

On Thursday morning, I attended the CBCC Advisory Council meeting, where the members bade Peter Shields a fond farewell, thanking him for his powerful and effective efforts on behalf of the CBCC. There is much cause for excitement as the CBCC moves forward on a number of fronts.

That afternoon, I “shuffled off to Buffalo” to attend the EAB meeting for Roswell Park Cancer Institute. I always learn a lot from other centers, and do plan to apply that knowledge in the service of Georgetown Lombardi’s interest as well. After getting back late on Friday, I then hopped back on a plane with Harriet to attend the wedding of the child of two of our dear friends in Atlanta.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Team Georgetown for participating in the PurpleStride 5K Walk for Pancreatic Cancer on Saturday, and to thank all those who supported the team!

Have a great week.

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Mar 18 2011

Learning from previous and future generations of researchers

by at 11:49 am

I had to miss my last post as I was out of town last week. First, I was at a meeting in Chicago and then flew to Philadelphia for the AACR’s Stand Up 2 Cancer Young Investigator Review Committee meeting. It was a fascinating experience. The committee initially received 183 proposals—all mid-assistant-level professors. Of these, 18 finalists were identified and invited to Philly to make brief presentations and conduct interviews.  This was a wonderful way to vet the scientific ideas of this important group of young investigators. I expect that more than half of these applicants will receive awards.

Interestingly, the majority of the applications dealt with RNAi approaches or metabolic pathways. I can’t say for sure if these emphases speak to the biases of the initial review panel, or if they represent the collective subconscious judgment of our most talented young investigators regarding the cutting edges of contemporary cancer research. Either way, it is clear that the future of our cancer research is in good hands if these proposals are any indication.

While in Philly, I was fortunately able to walk from the Rittenhouse Hotel, where the meeting was held, to Jefferson Hospital, where my father was undergoing a right-knee replacement. All went well and it was nice to be able to spend some time with him.

Last Monday, I had the privilege of attending a reception for Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, who received an honorary degree from Georgetown at the Davis Performing Arts Center on campus. I found it truly inspiring to learn how he has done so much to break down the walls of intolerance through the arts. The Kennedy Center has promoted the arts in many of the world’s most dangerous and poverty-stricken regions. There are many ways to make a difference in this world.

On Tuesday much of my day was spent at the GUMC Convocation ceremony activities. It was a true pleasure to meet the guest speaker and the recipient of the Cura Personalis Award, famed pharmacogeneticist Arno Motulsky.  While he was born in Germany, Dr. Motulsky was actually raised in Brussels, Belgium, in the same general neighborhood as my mother. An interesting coincidence, although he did not know her or her family.

While my mother and her family went into hiding to escape persecution and extermination during the Holocaust, Dr. Motulsky’s family attempted to escape aboard the M.S. St. Louis—the German ocean liner that infamously sailed from Hamburg to Havana in 1939, but whose passengers were denied entry when it arrived.

Upon the ship’s return Dr. Motulsky was imprisoned at a camp in Vichy, France, but managed to survive and somehow got an exit visa to the United States. He joined the U.S. army in 1943 and went on to live a remarkable life. Hearing his story and connecting it to my own family’s history reminds me of the essential differences between challenging economic times, such as the current era, and man-made cataclysms such as the Holocaust or natural disasters such as the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

On Friday I was sorry to miss the Visiting Professor Seminar Series, with guest speaker Thomas Hornyak, MD, PhD, from the NCI. I had to attend the ASCO Cancer Research Committee meeting in Alexandria. I’m sure his talk on melanoma was fascinating.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the spring weather!  It will be the perfect temperature for our Georgetown Lombardi/Ruesch Center team that is participating in the Scope it Out 5K for Colon Cancer Awareness this Sunday in DC.

No responses yet | Categories: Administration,CCSG,Events

Feb 13 2011

A Week Full of University-Wide Activities

by at 12:53 am

The week started out on a high note with last Monday’s Town Hall meeting, which I hope those of you who attended found useful and informative. For those who missed it but are interested in what we discussed, you can find my slides on LombardiNet.

On Tuesday, I participated in the clinical chair session of the LCME site visit for the School of Medicine, even though I informed Dean Mitchell that I’m a basic science chair! Nonetheless, it was a good chance to see some of my fellow chairs with whom I wouldn’t normally interact. From what I gather, the site visit went well and we hope to receive a favorable report. Combined with the fact that Georgetown remains highly ranked according to the Carnegie Foundation, this is shaping up to be a good stretch of accreditation for all of us.

This week was also busy with several board of directors activities, including COMCA and a lovely reception on Wednesday, the general board meeting on Thursday morning and a dinner for the board and University leadership Thursday evening.  I am pleased to report that the board of directors approved our leasing of space at 1000 New Jersey Avenue SE to support the community activities of Lucile Adams-Campbell’s program. This should be an enormous boost to the great work of Lucile and her team in conducting community-based participatory research.

At the board meeting we had the unique opportunity to hear from Charlie Deacon, who has been the dean of undergraduate admissions since 1970. He described admissions trends across all campuses, including the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies. The overall picture is that Georgetown remains a highly desirable and competitive choice—at least if the exceptional qualifications of the more than 1000 students who have already received acceptance letters to our undergraduate schools are any indication.

Thursday evening’s dinner was highlighted by an interesting question and answer session with the Ambassador of India to the United States, Meera Shankar. This experience was enhanced by the fact that I sat next to Victor Cha, who directs Georgetown’s Asian Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service. Victor took leave from the University from 2004 to 2007 to work as a director for Asian Affairs at the White House and the National Security Council.

Not surprisingly, he has some remarkable stories about his visits to North and South Korea and China. I thought I knew something about this part of the world, but this guy is truly amazing. As I talked with him, I was reminded at how diverse Georgetown is, and that we work with some incredibly talented and brilliant people.

Right in the midst of the board of directors activities, on Wednesday immediately after COMCA, I helped welcome a team of federal auditors who came in to look at our space utilization in support of our applications for recovery of indirect cost rates. This may not sound as interesting as some other activities this week, but it is an essential benchmark in establishing that we are fulfilling our mission as a cancer center by using our research space wisely and appropriately. I’d like to thank everyone who came in contact with the auditors for their time and gracious attitudes.

I also had the chance this week to sit down with George Philips, who recently came on board at Georgetown Lombardi from the Vermont Cancer Center. George and I discussed a variety of clinical trial opportunities, and as he said in his comments at the Town Hall, he is looking forward to quickly engaging as a highly collaborate researcher here. So if you see George wander by in the halls, please welcome him. Also if you are looking for opportunities to collaborate on genitourinary malignancies, please let him know. His email is

Finally, on Friday I was unable to attend the Program Leaders meeting because I was hosting a delegation from Geisinger Health System, facilitated by our friend Andy Deubler, who used to work in the EVP’s office. This was a great meeting, as we determined we have a number of shared interests and some real opportunities for partnering. Geisinger has an enormous patient population, meticulously documented by its electronic health records, and a huge biorepository of samples that could be a great resource for population-based research.

As you can see, it was a busy week! On Sunday, Harriet and I will attend the Georgetown-Marquette basketball game, where we’ll support the Georgetown Lombardi/CBCC team for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The team will have a sign-up table, and there will be announcements made about our fundraising efforts–if you’re at the game stop by!

To close, I’d like to congratulate the Georgetown University Hospital Oncology Infusion Unit for a recent accomplishment. These nurses were recognized by the Oncology Nursing Certificate Corporation for clinical excellence in achieving an oncology certification rate of over 50% of eligible nurses. What a great reminder of the outstanding clinical care provided by GUH and MedStar Health – we should all take pride when our colleagues are honored.

That is all for this post. Enjoy your weekend, and happy Valentine’s Day!

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