Archive for the 'Education' Category


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!

No responses yet | Categories: Administration,Education,Events,Outreach

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

May 21 2010

Future of NCI

by at 3:57 pm

So, I had a fairly interesting week. Last Thursday and Friday I participated in the annual NCI Cancer Center Directors’ Retreat and heard John Niederhuber’s final address prior to the announcement of President Obama’s intent to nominate Harold Varmus as the new NCI director. John was reflective in his comments, not surprisingly. Although he has had a challenging tenure due to budgetary constraints, he has been a strong advocate for the cancer centers program, and provided important support to Lombardi during a period of leadership transition. I wish him well as he moves on to new challenges. I also am interested in learning about how Dr. Varmus will shake up the NCI (if at all) once he assumes his new responsibilities. He is certainly thought to be a friend of R01-based research, but should he choose to invest more resources in that direction, something will have to give, since the NCI budget is not likely to rise appreciably.

On Monday, I attended my first (!) graduate student Ph.D. thesis proposal meeting. Rochelle Nasto is a Drexel University graduate student who is based in the lab of my collaborator, Erica Golemis. Rochelle has spent the past year or so in my lab, devising and conducting screening of an estrogen receptor-targeted siRNA library to identify determinants of survival and drug resistance. Accordingly, I serve on her committee at Drexel. She did very well, so it was a very positive experience for me. Coming from a freestanding cancer center, I never had graduate students before, so I found the whole exercise quite interesting.

On Tuesday I gave a lecture at UMBC at a graduate students’ symposium in their new research building. It was nice to catch up with our old friend, Kevin Cullen, and hear about the nice things that are happening at that cancer center. Wednesday was highlighted by the research seminar given by Dr. Xuefeng Liu, who spoke about papillomavirus, telomerase and cell immortalization. It was a very nice and provocative presentation. Unfortunately, attendance was pretty low, so lots of people missed out on hearing some very good science. I have been as guilty as many others in missing these seminars, but have vowed to make them a priority; it’s a great way for me to learn more about what is going on in our scientific community. Yesterday morning, Vicente Notario met with the Hematology/Oncology fellows to describe his research. I was pleased to hear the many probing and thoughtful questions he received from the group; these trainees can and should be targeted for clinical research-based collaborations by our scientific community.

The rest of the week has been consumed by clinic, lab meetings, grant reviews, a manuscript submission, a chapter submission for the DeVita textbook, budget meetings and senior faculty evaluations. All in all, it’s been a pretty typical week. However, I am looking forward to the weekend!

No responses yet | Categories: Education

Dec 04 2009

Working with Wellness

by at 3:20 pm

It was nice to be back home and at work this week. I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak at the Wellness Community in Rockville about new treatments for cancer. We had a good turnout and a lively discussion. It is so important to reach out to the community, and I have found that when I do that, the community reaches back. As many of you know, John and Liza Marshall have been very involved in the Wellness Community, which is a really wonderful organization. It was particularly interesting for me because I have given this talk before at the Philadelphia branch. Before I spoke, their director suggested that I use a particular presentation that was considered to be particularly effective. Of course, it was John’s presentation! Knowing that I could never adequately replicate his oratorical brilliance, I used it as a template, modified it to fit my less effective style, and have used it ever since. Thanks, John, for all your help (and let me know if you’d like a copy).

It was fun to attend Kim Lyerly’s Grand Rounds presentation today. Kim is Director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, and he is a real leader in the field of cancer vaccines. His talk was provocative and actually aligned with my own interests in many ways. After the talk, he, John Marshall, Milt Brown and I exchanged cancer center war stories. It is remarkable how differently Duke handles tenure, compensation issues, and even how their cancer center is organized. Like humans, cancer centers are outbred species. As I once heard someone say, “When you’ve seen one cancer center, you’ve seen one cancer center…”

Have a great weekend.

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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

Apr 07 2009

The importance of teaching (and the core grant)

by at 3:58 pm

Congratulations to Aykut Üren for receiving the Geza M. Illes Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Georgetown University School of Medicine’s 31st Annual Golden Apple Awards Ceremony. The award honors an outstanding first-year teacher “who serves as an inspirational role model in the field of gross anatomy.” This is a real testimony to his dedication and effectiveness as a teacher. It’s wonderful to know that a fine researcher such as Aykut is able to find the time and energy to make a contribution to training medical students. Speaking of Aykut’s research, he is hosting the Wnt 2009 Conference to be held on June 11-14 here at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall.  Clearly he is able to do more than one thing well at a time!

I’ve been feeling a bit jet-lagged. I was in Whistler, British Columbia, co-chairing a Keystone Symposium on Antibodies as Drugs. The meeting was co-located with the Targeted Cancer Therapies Keystone Meeting so I had the wonderful opportunity to go to two meetings in areas of great interest to me. I am told that the skiing was great though all I remember of my down time was staring into a laptop screen editing core grant program write-ups. At least I didn’t break an ankle while using track changes.

Last Thursday afternoon, I chaired the Systems Medicine task force for the GUMC strategic planning initiative. We’re making good progress in understanding how to roll out systems medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center using G-DOC as a template. However we still have a lot of work to do.

I also chatted with Joe Teague and Elena Jeannotte about the upcoming Lombardi Celebration on November 7th. I am pleased to announce Tanya Potter Adler and her husband, Howard Adler, will be our co-chairs. Tanya is the daughter of Dr. John Potter, the founding director of Lombardi, and she is embracing her role with enthusiasm. We are grateful to her for taking on this responsibility.

On the media front, kudos to Todd Waldman for his remarkable appearance on CNN. In contrast to my interview on Fox 5 last Wednesday (only one sentence was picked up), Todd really had a chance to share his ideas, and to an international audience.

Finally, I plan to spend the weekend (when I’m not reviewing core grant write-ups) preparing responses to the various ARRA initiatives. I hope everyone is taking advantage of this remarkable funding mechanism. It is a great way to add depth and strength to our respective research programs.If you want to know more about the opportunities, please refer to the following links:

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

Mar 20 2009

Mentoring our junior faculty

by at 11:05 am

We had Program Leader and Associate Director meetings in the past week. After obsessing for the requisite period of time about the core grant submission, we discussed ways to improve program-based mentoring for junior investigators. The goal of these discussions was to find ways to provide support to junior faculty and ensure all of their research ideas are given the advantage of review with a view to identifying more avenues for collaboration and refinement of research strategies.

While we are still working out the details of how this will be implemented, each set of Program Leaders has been encouraged to incorporate research proposal reviews into their regular program meeting structures. Of course, more senior investigators who are looking either for validation or a reality check will be encouraged to take advantage of this new interactive resource as well. Stay tuned for more on these efforts.

One of the highlights of last week was a visit I paid to the Walter Reed Hospital where I met with Colonel Craig Shriver, Director of the Clinical Breast Care Project. He has organized a remarkably comprehensive breast cancer tumor enterprise. There are many opportunities for potential collaborations and Col. Shriver will be leading a delegation that will visit Lombardi in May. I also had a chance to visit John Potter while at Walter Reed. His office is in the original main building, which has enough photographs and paintings to qualify as a major museum in many cities. It’s quite striking.

On Sunday, Harriet hosted many members of the Lombardi/CBCC Avon Walk team at our house. After they met and strategized about ways to raise more money for the team, I had the wonderful opportunity to clean up while the team went out for a soggy and chilly walk. I think I got the better end of the deal.

Monday morning I visited the CBCC and met with Beth Beck and her crew to learn more about the work they do and their future plans. It is a really wonderful facility and provides such an important service to underserved women in the District and in our region. I was excited to learn that a van will shortly be in operation to pick up patients from the community to be transported to the Center for both mammography and patient education. I’m proud that Lombardi has been the driving force behind this wonderful enterprise.

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Oct 24 2008

Introducing the new ACS Young Investigators

by at 4:16 pm

Congratulations to Suzanne O’Neill, Tapas Saha, Rebecca Riggins and Tushar Deb for successfully competing for our institutional American Cancer Society Young Investigator Awards. Suzanne’s project is entitled, “Breast Cancer Patients’ Experience with Risk for Recurrence Testing.” Tapas will study the role of chaperone-mediated autophagy in breast cancer. Rebecca is studying how exposure to BPA induces Tamoxifen resistance in ER-positive breast cancer, and Tushar is investigating the mechanism of Pnck-induced tumorigenesis in HER2 amplified human breast cancer.

Many of you may remember our very interesting and successful ACS symposium last month, where the talented young investigators who received last year’s awards presented their work to an audience that included representatives from ACS. I look forward to hearing presentations about these projects next year.

The GUMC strategic planning process is well under way, and I am helping to lead the Systems Biomedicine design team. It has been a pleasure to get to know Mark Smith from the Washington Hospital Center, who has designed what may be the leading medical informatics system that is available. Along those lines, we’ll be hosting a Chinese delegation next week hoping to engage them in collaborations around G-DOC and our drug discovery efforts.

Yesterday, Curt Harris, from the NCI gave a terrific Department of Medicine Grand Rounds discussing his approaches to analyzing polymorphisms and microRNA expression profiles to define cancer risk, prognosis and predictive value. Like many of us, he views the analysis of multiple parameters as being necessary to make sense of all the complex information that is being generated.

Have a great weekend.

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Oct 10 2008

Celebrating Lombardi’s Past, Present & Future

by at 1:27 pm

One of the most remarkable features of Lombardi is that our total funding for research actually rose over the past six years, despite the end of the NCI doubling in 2003. This certainly reflects the excellence of our investigators, as we all compete in much deeper and more treacherous funding waters than in the past. So, I am delighted to report that we continue to compete very successfully. For example, our T32 grant, which supports many of our most important educational programs, fared extremely well in review, and will be highly competitive for a favorable funding decision. Congratulations and thanks to Anna Riegel for taking the lead on this very important initiative.

I spent Monday and Tuesday in Chicago, at the AACI meeting, with other Cancer Center Directors. One session focused on the importance of creating tissue banks, and developing high-quality methods for accessing, processing and distributing tissue specimens. We are fortunate to have developed a powerful collaboration with Indivumed to facilitate these activities; needless to say, this will be a fundamental backbone of efforts to create integrated clinical and molecular cancer databases. John Niederhuber, the Director of the NCI, gave a very thoughtful address, and was mercifully spared the onerous task of defending federal funding decisions regarding the NCI budget during the question and answer period.

Speaking of Dr. Niederhuber, I hope everyone will attend the inaugural John F. Potter, MD, Distinguished Lecture, which will be held at 4 pm today in the Gorman Building auditorium. We are honored by Dr. Niederhuber’s presentation of his lecture, but it is important to recognize that he in turn joins us in honoring Dr. John Potter, who is the founding director of the Lombardi Cancer Center. Dr. Potter was on the team of doctors that cared for Vince Lombardi, and occupies a special place in the history of Georgetown University and the Medical Center for having recognized, advocated and developed the Cancer Center. We are all here today because Dr. Potter had the vision and energy to make cancer research and cancer care a priority at Georgetown. To commemorate Dr. Potter’s accomplishments, a reception will follow his comments and Dr. Niederhuber’s presentation, with a rededication of his portrait, which currently hangs in the Martin Marietta conference room, to a more prominent location in the Atrium of the Lombardi building. I do hope you can join us for this memorable event.

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