Archive for the 'Clinic' Category


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

Jul 16 2010

Lombardi Community

by at 9:59 am

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. It sure has been hot!

While the pace of meetings has slowed down a bit as many of us enjoy vacations, I have found no shortage of work. Aligning all of the key constituencies as we prepare to respond to the CCSG critique is occupying a lot of time, but I have been very gratified by the support shown to Lombardi. I have received many fine suggestions about ways to better focus our research programs and support our shared resources. However, I am always open to new suggestions!

One of the continuing joys of my job is the opportunity to be a part of the clinical and research communities of Lombardi. Today was a great example in that I attended Thursday’s Data meeting, and listened to two students (Ivana Peran and Joe Murray) present their interesting work. Of course, I may be a bit biased, since Ivana spoke about pancreatic cancer models (more about that later) and Joe, who works in my lab, talked about his efforts to uncover the tumor-derived molecular determinants of sensitivity to antibody-dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity. Later in the day, I had my usual clinic where I met a new patient who was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer last week. While there is new evidence that a combination of three standard drugs may improve median survival to about 12 months in this setting, we desperately need innovative approaches that will attack the relevant biology of this cancer. Efforts such as those being done by Ivana and her mentor, Anton Wellstein, are desperately needed and most welcome. I can conceive of no more compelling rationale for the concept of translational research that truly spans the lab and the clinic. My patient, and so many others just like her, are counting on us.

Have a great weekend, and stay hydrated.

No responses yet | Categories: Clinic,Education,Research

Apr 01 2010

Spring in Washington

by at 1:59 pm

I simply cannot believe how beautiful Washington is at this time of year. I feel very lucky to be here to enjoy Spring, and of course to seeing everything “up close and personal” as I train for the Avon Walk. I am delighted to report that I have exceeded my personal fund raising target of $1800, and can now devote my efforts to helping my Lombardi/CBCC teammates achieve their goals. I hope some of you will want to help too. If you click on this link, you’ll be at the team’s homepage, showing who on the team still needs to raise money to meet their fund raising goals. Any help you provide will be greatly appreciated.

It’s been a quiet week for meetings, since Harriet and I scooted up to Philadelphia for our family’s Passover seder on Monday night, and got back into the office on Wednesday. And, of course things are winding down around here with Good Friday and Easter approaching. I took advantage of the time to complete my on-line human subjects certification, which is needed for all investigators who engage in research involving human subjects. I have clinic today, and must note that I am already seeing the impact of the Ruesch Center in my practice. Each of the major GI cancers now has a designated nurse navigator, and groups of clinicians and investigators are beginning to coalesce around these diseases. I was a pretty active clinician when I was at Fox Chase, which had a very active GI cancer program, but I can barely keep up with the new pancreatic cancer patients who are coming in through our active surgery and gastroenterology practices! This volume creates terrific opportunities for translational research focused on pancreatic cancer. And, knowing John Marshall as I do, I am sure that this is just the beginning.

Please accept my warmest wishes for a happy holiday.

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Feb 11 2010

Living in a Snow Globe

by at 2:58 pm

So, I’ll bet lots of us are itching to get back to work! I have managed to make it in every day this week except yesterday, when it just was not worth the risk and the roads were, for a while, especially impassable. I am in clinic right now, seeing a couple of new and few follow up patients. Hopefully we’ll be fully operational by Friday.

Unfortunately, tomorrow’s Grand Rounds with Michael Kastan has been postponed due to travel woes; it’s a real shame because he is really one of the most thoughtful and insightful leaders in our field. Hopefully, we’ll get him rescheduled fairly soon.

As much fun as it has been to shovel, shiver, slip and slide over the past week, I expect that next week will be a real challenge as I (and everyone else) catch up on missed meetings. For example, I have been waiting on some potentially exciting results from a siRNA library screen against pancreatic cancer cells in the lab, but I guess I’ll just have to hold my breath a little bit longer…

Be safe, and remember – pitchers and catchers report in a few weeks.

No responses yet | Categories: Clinic,Research

Nov 02 2009

Obligation and Opportunity

by at 11:03 am

I’m glad that so many Lombardi faculty and staff were able to attend last week’s Town Hall meeting on Health Disparities in the Research Building Auditorium. The panel engaged in a lively discussion regarding the important issue of health disparities with a focus on the District of Columbia. Lucile Adams-Campbell really represented Lombardi in a thoughtful and persuasive manner. Another highlight of the session was the powerful presence of Tovoia Miner, who relayed her experience with breast cancer and the role the Capital Breast Care Center played in assuring timely diagnosis and therapy. I am proud of what Lombardi is doing in the area of Health Disparities and look forward to even more impact from these efforts with Lucile’s leadership. I’m also appreciative of the efforts of the Friends of Cancer Research in conceiving of and organizing this important event.

For those of you whose work infrequently crosses into the Cancer Center’s clinical activities, one area that I’ve been interested in strengthening is multidisciplinary patient care and research. This requires an expansion of Lombardi’s focus beyond medical hematology and oncology to more fully engage our colleagues in radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and other sub-specialties. Several weeks ago I met with a number of the clinical department leaders to describe what Lombardi is doing and to solicit ideas about how we can work together more effectively. It was a pleasure to meet with Bruce Luxon, the new Chair of Medicine, and to continue to work with Greg Gagnon in Radiation Medicine. I was pleased to see Lynt Johnson, who is Interim Chair of Surgery, and discuss ways to incorporate surgical oncology into Lombardi’s research portfolio. I was doubly pleased when Lynt revealed that he not only loves golf, but is as bad at it as I am. I look forward to sharing a few shanks with him in the future.

Finally, on Thursday and Friday I’ll be representing Lombardi at the NCI Translational Science Meeting, called TSM 2. Fortunately, the meeting doesn’t require substantial travel as it will be held in Tyson’s corner. Before I head out on Thursday, I will be giving the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds lecture in the Gorman Auditorium. I hope to see some of you there.

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Jun 12 2009


by at 5:32 pm

I went to Franklin Square Hospital on Tuesday to meet with John Zapas. He is chief of surgical oncology there and also happens to be head of Georgetown University’s oncology IRB. He is interested in melanoma and is academically-oriented, as are his colleagues at Franklin Square. I came away from those meetings with a request from John to include him and his colleagues as Lombardi members. Since Franklin Square is a MedStar hospital there is a natural affinity for interaction and collaboration in the future.

Speaking of MedStar, I was delighted to congratulate Rich Goldberg on his promotion to interim President of GUH. Also congratulations to Joy Drass in her new role as Executive Vice President for Operations of MedStar South. Her tenure as President here was remarkably successful in that she rescued the hospital from ruin and positioned it for future growth and success.

One of the highlights of my week was going to Politics and Prose Tuesday night to hear PJ O’Rourke speak about his new book, “Driving Like Crazy”. I’ve enjoyed his writing for years and he’s nearly as funny and insightful in person.

Another highlight was the Men’s Event on Monday Night. We had almost 160 people turn out to support our research programs in prostate cancer. I was touched by everyone’s commitment and generosity to our mission. It was especially nice to meet Charlie Neal who is an ESPN sportscaster with the most amazing bass baritone speaking voice I’ve ever heard. It was also great to see long-time Lombardi supporters Paul Schweitzer, Jack Schneider, Harvey Weiss, and many others, including Howard Adler. Howard and his wife Tanya Potter Adler are the chairs for this year’s Gala.

For once I wasn’t the tallest guy in the room because one of the guests was former Congressman Tom McMillen who played basketball at Maryland and then in the NBA for twelve years. This was his first Men’s Event, and like many others, I’m sure he was moved by our mission.

That’s all for now.

No responses yet | Categories: Clinic,Events | Tags: , , , ,

Dec 18 2008

Exciting projects for the New Year

by at 3:35 pm

I very much enjoyed attending the clinic’s holiday party on Wednesday, and I was impressed by Tod Greene’s excellent taste in music. I’m looking forward to tonight’s Lombardi-wide celebration as well.

I was very pleased by the positive response when I presented at last week’s Committee on Medical Center Affairs (COMCA) Board meeting. Our COMCA members are incredibly knowledgeable, deeply engaged, and very interested in helping the cancer center succeed in its mission. I came with a 12 slide presentation, but could only get through 9 slides because I was peppered by so many questions. While some of the COMCA members primarily have backgrounds in business, several of them are extremely knowledgeable about medical center operations and provided valuable feedback and informed advice.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Subha Madhavan yesterday to review the status of the G-DOC effort. It seems hard to believe she’s only been here for 3 months since she’s been an absolute whirlwind of activity since her arrival. I’m extremely excited to see our ideas transforming into tangible action, and am very excited to see what happens in the next 3 months.

I was gratified that my comments about Mike Pishvaian’s Drug Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics meeting generated such a nice response. Mike has organized a follow-up meeting on January 6th at 4 pm in E501, and we look forward to identifying the most promising clinical trial concepts for cancer center investment and rapid activation.

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Oct 16 2008

Congratulations to Lucile Adams-Campbell

by at 10:45 am

I have the distinct pleasure of announcing that Lucile Adams-Campbell has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (read the press release). This is a remarkable achievement. I am sure you’ll join me in congratulating Lucile. As you know, Lucile recently joined us, and this external recognition further reinforces my delight in having her at Lombardi. Stay tuned for news about a special reception to recognize her achievement.

Dr. Potter with his portrait.

Dr. Potter with his portrait.

I really enjoyed last Friday’s lecture and reception honoring Dr. John Potter. I know the recognition of his founding contributions meant a lot to him. If you haven’t seen his portrait, check it out by the elevators in the Lombardi lobby.

Thursday is a big day for me, as I finally start seeing patients again. I’ll only have one half-day of clinic per week, but I can assure you that patient care is very important to me, and I am convinced that the humbling responsibility that comes with the territory inspires me and lends added urgency to my research and my research ambitions for Lombardi. What we all do really matters.

Finally, plans for submitting our competitive CCSG renewal are humming along. We have received first drafts for all the programs and cores, and now the hard work of reviewing the write-ups (I will be ably assisted by a small army of internal reviewers) has begun. After one round of revisions, the write-ups will go out to our ESAC for their review and comments.

That’s all for this week.

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Sep 26 2008

Hope on Wheels

by at 10:42 am

On Wednesday, Lombardi hosted the now annual Hyundai Hope on Wheels Event. This year, Aziza Shad’s pediatric survivorship program received a $40,000 check from the Washington area Hyundai dealers, bringing their contributions to more than $200,000 over the past five years. The touching handprint ceremony celebrates the achievements of our pediatric team and the brave patients we serve. In recognition of the event, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty proclaimed Wednesday, September 24th, 2008, the official Hope on Wheels Day for the District of Columbia.

Hope on Wheels

Hope on Wheels

On that note, I hope that many of you have had a chance to meet Joe Teague, who is spearheading Lombardi’s Advancement efforts. Joe is working hard to identify and expand our donor base, and we are putting together case statements for our high priority initiatives. You’ll hear more about them in the near future. We are fortunate to have unified and powerful support for our fundraising efforts from all of the important stakeholders at Georgetown. We need to be patient, since it will take time to create and benefit from having a real fundraising engine, but I am very optimistic.

For next week, please mark your calendars to attend the Fisher Center’s first annual lecture coming up on Thursday. The speaker, Dr. Steven Narod, was named the most highly cited scientist in the world in the field of breast cancer.

Finally, I spent time in the Lombardi clinic yesterday so John Deeken could show me the ropes. My first day seeing patients is in the middle of next month. While I’ll have to keep my practice small, I really look forward to getting back to patient care; I am always inspired by my patients, and reminded that cancer research should always be conducted with the knowledge that people depend on us to help them. We have lots of work to do!

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