Archive for the 'CCSG' 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!

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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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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.

No responses yet | Categories: Administration,CCSG,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

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.

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

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

Oct 29 2010

Announcing Lombardi’s New Organizational Structure

by at 1:32 pm

Dear Colleagues:

As you know by now, we have been engaged in a process to modify our program structures so that we can respond effectively to the CCSG critique that resulted from our competitive submission in May, 2009. This process has involved many of you, and I am grateful for the many helpful suggestions and comments that I received. The exact names of the programs might change over the next month or so, but this general organization will be retained.

I am especially grateful to all of the program leaders who have served Lombardi during the recent CCSG submission and review process. They represented us and our science with dedication and worked very hard to accurately portray the science we do together. However, the process of peer review is rigorous and at times unforgiving, and in the reorganization and prioritization of our collaborative research activities some changes in program leadership were necessary.

The program designations (remember, the actual titles are still tentative) and program leaders are described below. CET represents a trimmed down and refocused evolution of the former 3DT program, and MO encompasses elements of the former MTTR, GRC and 3DT programs.

Program Leader
Breast Cancer (BC) Bob Clarke, Claudine Isaacs
Clinical & Experimental Therapeutics (CET) John Marshall, TBN
Molecular Oncology (MO) Jeff Toretsky
Cancer Control (CC) Marc Schwartz
Carcinogenesis, Biomarkers & Epidemiology (CBE) Chris Loffredo

Over the next month the program leaders will work together and with program membership to identify the 2-4 major themes that define each of their programs, and will establish interest groups around those themes. Leaders of each interest group will be identified and will function thereafter as program co-leaders. I fully expect that while each interest group will have a specific “home program,” some interest group members may be primarily based in other programs. This will stimulate inter-programmatic collaborations. These interest groups will meet regularly and will become collaborative scientific entities that spawn the specific aims of our next CCSG submission. During this time, some Lombardi members will be invited to switch their primary program affiliations based on the new programmatic emphases that emerge from this process.

This is a real opportunity to develop an organizational structure that accurately reflects the science we do, and positions us to successfully compete for multi-investigator grants. I look forward to this process with excitement.

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Sep 17 2010

Personal milestone, professional progress

by at 10:26 am

I hope everyone is enjoying this amazing fall-like weather!

This past week marked a personal milestone for me—I became a grandfather for the first time! My grandson, Isaac Solomon Fertig, was born on Saturday, September 11, weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces.  Isaac, our daughter Elana and her husband Ben are doing great. As is the right of any self-respecting new grandfather, I have attached a few pictures.

In other good news, we received the official notice this week that our Comprehensive Cancer Center status has been renewed through the next CCSG term. While this was not a surprise, it is an affirmative reminder of the caliber of the work we do here, and of the company we keep.  Sometimes those facts get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  There is much to be proud of at Lombardi.

We kicked off our response to the NCI’s CCSG critique this week with a vibrant planning meeting of our program directors. The objective was to have participants present their ideas on how we can improve upon our program structure to best organize our science. For the purposes of this discussion, basically nothing was off the table. We discussed ways we could combine or realign our existing programs in ways that specifically and strategically address the CCSG critiques, promote collaboration and showcase our unique strengths.  This meeting was highly productive and many excellent ideas were proposed and debated. I plan to select a candidate program structure by the end of the month, and will discuss it at the upcoming Town Hall on September 28 at noon. This structure will be fleshed out to include major themes and suggested allocations of program members and then presented to a group of by external advisors that includes our ESAC. Once we have agreed upon the changes that will be made we will present the modified structure to the NCI Cancer Center Program for review and comment.

Have a great weekend!

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Sep 10 2010

End-of-Summer Update: Looking ahead to challenges and opportunities that await

by at 10:17 am

I hope everybody had an enjoyable summer, and had the chance to recharge their batteries a bit. While I have been pretty busy over the past few months I took a bit of time off in August as well, so I am long overdue for a blog entry. My recent trip to South Korea was remarkable and fascinating, and I’ve posted a couple of photos here for your enjoyment. It was nice to find a Phillies fan at a baseball game in Seoul, and although the shirt was the wrong color, he apparently (and most probably, unknowingly) roots for the “right” football team, too! Although I was called back early from my trip due to a family emergency that fortunately resolved, I have returned to work feeling energized, focused and ready for a busy fall season.

As I’ve previously communicated, we were notified unofficially a few months ago that our CCSG funding would be reduced by 50% and that the grant would be renewed for three years rather than the five years we had requested. In what came as no surprise, this week we received the confirmatory official notification of grant award from the NCI. So, we remain funded and have retained our Comprehensive status. However, we must plan to submit a competitive renewal in about two years.

Moving forward, our biggest and most immediate challenge will be to develop a decisive plan of action to respond to our recent CCSG evaluation. I have already begun this process, soliciting the help and input of leadership from Lombardi, GUMC, our External Scientific Advisory Board and the University. Over the coming months, we will work to address the specific criticisms raised by the site review team. I will need everyone’s help as we pull together in a process of honest and unflinching self-evaluation to ensure that our science and our organizational structure are strong and meet the expectations of the next set of CCSG reviewers.

I look forward to sharing more details about this process at our upcoming Town Hall meeting on September 28 at noon. Look out for reminders about the Town Hall in your inbox.

In other news, we have two new members of the Lombardi team to welcome. Lauren Wolkoff, our new director of communications, replaced Allison Whitney as of August 18. Lauren comes to us from Georgetown’s Office of Advancement, where she worked on the Marketing and Communications team to produce and edit GUMC fundraising materials. Among other projects, Lauren was also editor of Georgetown Medicine magazine. While she is not new to Georgetown, she is new to Lombardi so I encourage you to welcome her and fill her in on your projects. She can be reached at ext. 72960 or at

We are also happy to welcome Bob Brier as director of grant services for Lombardi. Bob will be filling the role previously held by Maureen McMahon, directing the pre-award process for all grants and contracts submitted by Lombardi PIs. Bob moved to Washington from Boston, where he previously worked as department administrator for the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He also served as the administrative director for the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. Bob started September 8; please stop by to welcome him. He can be reached at ext. 77787 or by email at

As you can see, there’s a lot going on right now. I look forward to connecting with many of you at the Town Hall later this month. Until then, enjoy the sense of renewal and excitement that comes with fall (not to mention the cooler weather!).

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Nov 06 2009

A Busy Week Before Heading to Seoul

by at 6:40 pm

I’ll be at Dankook University in South Korea as of November 11, doing some teaching and exploring collaborative opportunities, and I will spend a day or two at Seoul National University as well, giving a talk and meeting additional cancer research experts there. Hopefully, they’ll let me on the plane; those of you who have heard me speak in the last few days must have been looking around for the frog that invaded my larynx.

I have not yet received any news about our CCSG evaluation, but we should be hearing fairly soon. Frankly, I’ve been too busy to worry much about it. This week was highlighted by a busy clinic on Wednesday. I gave Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on Thursday morning (though my voice rarely rose above a hoarse whisper). I then spent some time in Vienna, VA at the NCI Translational Meeting, and then returned to meet with Dr. Eyran Halpern, who is in charge of the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, and was here to explore collaborative opportunities. Since he also oversees that largest HMO in Israel (with over 3 million covered lives), there are interesting opportunities to consider, such as those in Health Services Research (are you reading this Arnie Potosky?). This morning I returned to the NCI meeting to co-chair a session on antibody-based cancer immunotherapy. I returned in time to hear Cheryl Lyn Walker’s very interesting Grand Rounds presentation, and had some time to catch up on calls and paperwork.

I am looking forward to Saturday night’s Lombardi Gala, which has already been quite successful, considering the challenging economic climate. This year’s theme is “Celebrate Lombardi”, and we will certainly do that!

If only I could have celebrated a Phillies victory in the World Series. I guess I’ll have to focus on the Eagles for now.

No responses yet | Categories: CCSG,Education,Events,Research

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