Archive for the 'Outreach' Category


Apr 01 2011

The Bright Lights of Broadway

by at 3:26 pm

Well, I had quite an interesting trip to New York on Tuesday. We hosted an event called “Lombardi on Broadway” for about 40 GU alumni and guests. Following a reception at the Palm restaurant, we trooped across the street to the Circle in the Square Theater for a performance of the play, ‘Lombardi’. This play is based on the book, “When Pride Still Mattered,” by David Maranis, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, about the life of Vince Lombardi. I have read the book and it is marvelous.

The play, which is also wonderful, is based on fictional interaction between Lombardi and a young sports journalist writing a story about him during the week before a big game with the Chicago Bears in 1965. The great cast, which includes the well-known actors Dan Lauria and Judith Light, gets it just right, and Lauria captures Lombardi’s intensity, passion and all-consuming drive for excellence so vividly that it seems like an out-of-body experience. I shudder to imagine how Lombardi would have dealt with a manuscript rejection.

The highlight of the evening was a specially arranged “talk back” session between the cast and the GU audience members. I was asked to join them on the stage for a minute or two (me, on a Broadway stage!) during which I told them that Lombardi’s legacy inspires our work here, and that the emphasis on individuals pulling together towards a common goal is exactly what we strive for every day.

I am pleased to report I had the good sense to not break into song, disappointing nobody.

Then we had the chance to pepper the cast with questions and got some fascinating answers. I purchased a signed ‘Lombardi’ poster and am having it framed to hang in my office. It will be a fabulous memento of a memorable evening. It is especially poignant for me because I come from a “Broadway family.”  My brother Steve is a composer, and has several shows playing right now around the country, with at least one on its way to New York; we’ve all been listening to Broadway musicals since I was very young. Moreover, Steve’s oldest daughter, Marla, has a featured role in the upcoming Broadway production of “Sister Act,” which opens in April. I feel as if I have finally joined the family business!

If you find yourself in New York and are looking for a great evening of entertainment, I highly recommend that you catch “Lombardi.” People affiliated with Georgetown are offered discounted tickets.  You can find more information here.

By the way, things are really humming as the Georgetown Lombardi/CBCC team ramps up for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer April 30-May 1. The team has “walked” its way into third place, just ahead of the Johns Hopkins team, having recruited 38 walkers and raised nearly $45,000 as of this posting. However, the team needs your help! They still need walkers, cheerleaders and medical staff to help care for our team throughout the weekend. And, many of the walkers really need help in order to raise the $1800 required to participate in the walk. You can find more information on the Avon Walk web site or right at the team’s Avon page.

Or email Jeanne Mandelblatt at for more information.

Enjoy your weekend!

Dr. Weiner with the cast and producer of "Lombardi"

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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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Jan 21 2011

Balancing Work and Play

by at 8:34 pm

I hope you enjoyed a restful holiday weekend and a productive week.

I spent the first part of the week in Jamaica participating in the Breast Cancer Think Tank, a wonderful conference packed full of interesting data. I was joined by other Lombardi faculty: Craig Jordan; Anton Wellstein; Michael Johnson and Bob Clarke. The sessions are organized like a Gordon Conference, with great content in the mornings and evenings, leaving the afternoons free for diving, golf, or whatever other warm-weather activity you’d want.

I presented an update on our siRNA libraries we use to identify determinants of survival in breast cancer cells, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to talks from my colleagues around the country.  Even though I am still on the mend from the persistent respiratory infection I’ve been battling for nearly two weeks, I made it through my presentation in one piece.

Perhaps more miraculously, I also managed to shoot an 82 on the golf course—my personal best score. I have witnesses, namely the other members of my foursome: Joe Gray from UCSF; Steve Shak from Genomic Health; and Shaomeng Wang from University of Michigan. The lesson I learned is that I should never play with my own clubs and golf shoes again, the rental clubs and sneakers seemed to produce a much better outcome. Despite a great game, I think I’ll keep my day job.  

And my day job is keeping me busy. I came back a few days early from Jamaica to attend a meeting with President DeGioia to discuss fundraising activities. I have also begun to interact more closely with our MedStar colleagues on a regional strategy for oncology service delivery. I’ve attended one major strategic meeting and several smaller operational ones.

Believe it or not, we are already ramping up in preparation for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a two-day event April 30-May 1 that raises awareness and funds to combat breast cancer. Avon is an important partner for Lombardi and the Capital Breast Care Center, and the cause is certainly a priority for us, so it’s essential that we have a strong Lombardi showing. If you are interested in walking as part of the Lombardi team or helping cheer the team on, contact Jeanne Mandelblatt at You’ll be hearing more about this in the months to come.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend!

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Oct 08 2010

Taking Time for Family

by at 3:25 pm

Sadly, I don’t have much work-related news to report this week. Last Friday, Harriet and I were called to her mother’s bedside in the Philadelphia suburbs as she was finally losing a lengthy and harshly debilitating battle with Parkinson’s disease. She died peacefully on Sunday evening, with the family at her bedside. It was terribly sad, of course, and leaves everyone who loved her with a painful sense of loss mixed with a sense of relief that her suffering has ended. She was a terrific person, and she will be missed.

I had been planning to travel to Chicago last Sunday afternoon for the American Association of Cancer Institutes (AACI) meeting from Sunday through Tuesday. I was especially interested in attending the meeting because I was just elected to the AACI’s Board of Directors, and was looking forward to contributing to its efforts. However, there will be other meetings in the future, and I am glad that I canceled my trip to be with Harriet, her mother and the rest of our family.

I also had been looking forward to the Capital Breast Care Center’s (CBCC’s) annual Gift of Life Breakfast on Thursday morning. This event broke all of its prior fundraising records; these proceeds will go a long way towards supporting the CBCC’s important efforts in the DC community. Congratulations to Beth Beck (CBCC executive director), Susannah Fox (CBCC development director, who coordinated the event) and Peter Shields, and thanks to the Michelle Cross Fenty, president of CBCC’s Advisory Council for her unstinting efforts on behalf of the CBCC, and for facilitating what I understand to have been a wonderful reception for major donors at the British Embassy last Monday evening. 

Please also join me in congratulating Jeff Toretsky for receiving a substantial NCI Award using the RC4 ARRA funding mechanism. He received one of only two RC4 grants awarded by the NCI, and will use this support to accelerate the clinical development of an EWS-FLI1 inhibitor to treat Ewing’s sarcoma. Well done, Jeff!

As I write this message I am looking forward to the American Cancer Society Symposium on Friday, October 8 featuring young Lombardi investigators. I hope everyone has a good weekend and enjoys Columbus Day on Monday.

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Oct 01 2010

Some news to make us feel proud

by at 8:41 pm

This past week, the fifth floor of the Research Building got a bit brighter. If you haven’t been up in the past few days, you should come see the cheerful display of paintings outside Suite E501 done by Nevin Bossart, one of the Arts and Humanities Program’s most prominent art teachers. His vibrant depictions of flowers make the space feel more like home for me—and with good reason!  Harriet and I actually have one of Nevin’s works hanging in our home. It is a painting of a specific castle in Ireland. I decided I had to own this particular piece because I saw it hanging in the Lombardi lobby just about four days after I returned from a trip to Ireland, where I had visited the very same castle! Some things are just meant to be.

On Tuesday, the National Research Council released the Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs. Lombardi’s Tumor Biology Ph.D. program rated very highly — more to come on that. Congratulations to all who are involved for having your work recognized so prominently.
I appreciate the excellent turnout and lively interchange at last week’s Sector Meeting and Town Hall. We had quite a bit of important business to discuss, as you can see, and I look forward to keeping you updated through regular correspondence and conversation. I am sorry to have missed Craig Jordan’s first Research Seminar on Wednesday, but was representing Lombardi at the Georgetown University Executive Committee meeting all day.

Stay tuned for announcements regarding the official G-DOC launch this month. After all you have been hearing about this tremendous tool, you’ll have the opportunity to see it in action—and find out how it is relevant to your work—at our launch symposium on October 26, from 2-4 pm, in the New Research Building Auditorium.

I’m looking forward to welcoming October this weekend—always a beautiful month here. I hope you have a nice weekend as well!

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Feb 19 2010

Walking the Avon Walk

by at 2:11 pm

I was so delighted to be a part of Wednesdays “Fighting a Smarter War on Cancer” Symposium at the Leavey Center. This symposium reflected the challenge of the Ruesch Center to cure, and not just treat gastrointestinal cancers, John Marshall assembled a terrific lineup of speakers who really did a great job of speaking to a diverse audience. Many of these speakers were from Lombardi, and really demonstrated the depth and originality of the work being done here. I must say that I was very proud of our Cancer Center. I also was, as always, captivated by John, who was the sensational emcee’ of the event. Imagine seeing “Donohue” live in the studio (I guess I am dating myself), infused with a passion for a most worthy cause. It was a great day.

When I got done with clinic yesterday, I turned my attention to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which will be held on May 1st and 2nd. As you know, Lombardi has a growing team of walkers, and I officially joined the team today. I invite everyone who wants to help us support this fabulous event to do so by joining our team. If you can, walk with us. If you can’t walk, cheer for the walkers. And, of course, feel free to support the team with a donation. Together, we can make a difference via our advocacy to have a huge impact on addressing breast cancer health disparities through our Avon Foundation-supported Capital Breast Care Center. We have great ambitions for this year’s walk. I will begin training as soon as the snowpack has receded, and predict that there will be many long walks in my future!

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Jan 19 2010

Learning more about informatics than I thought possible

by at 7:21 pm

Since this is my first blog of the year, I’d like to wish everybody a happy and healthy new year. I believe this will be a productive and highly successful new year. I hope everybody enjoyed the University-wide break during the week between Christmas and New Year and had a chance to spend the holidays with their families. Harriet and I had the unusual chance to be together with all of our grown children during that week and it was especially sweet. However, my son-in-law developed a brief but serious case of food poisoning that sent me in search of an all night pharmacy. Fortunately, I found one.

Thank you to Drs. Pishvaian, Dawson, Harter, Liu, Isaacs, Kessler, Cocilovo, Liang, Bright-Gbebry, Nancy Morgan and Jennifer Sween for generously giving up time this past weekend to participate in Lombardi’s booth at the NBC4 Health Expo (January 15th & 16th at the Washington Convention Center). As many of you know, Giant Foods invited Lombardi to be a part of their pavilion at the Health Expo, and we are excited by this opportunity to continue to reach out to the community in a number of ways to both do good and do well. Thank you to all of you who stopped by our booth to say hi.

One of the highlights of my week last week was a day-long meeting of a group that focuses on the signaling and bioinformatics of breast cancer. The meeting was organized by Bob Clarke and was held here in the E501 Conference Room and included a number of Lombardi scientists, two researchers from Fox Chase, and a group from the Virginia Tech Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. We identified a number of exciting collaborative directions and I learned more about informatics than I thought was possible.

Finally, I hope everybody will make time on their calendars to attend the first event sponsored by the Ruesch Center. John Marshall has poured his heart and soul into putting together a symposium on February 17th titled, “Fighting a Smarter War Against Cancer: Personalized Medicine & the Cure for Cancer.” John has put together a wonderful program which includes a handful of Lombardi scientists and a several high profile speakers from the cancer world. Mace Rothenberg the Senior Vice President of Pfizer Oncology will be giving the Thomas R. Schafer Memorial Lecture on the topic of “From Bench to Bedside to Pfizer.”

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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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Oct 04 2009

Still Recovering… (or, John Marshall is the Fifth Beatle)

by at 4:03 pm

Now that the NCI Site Visit is over, things are beginning to settle down a bit, I had the great fortune to attend a spectacular event this past Tuesday evening in the Riggs Library to honor Jeanne Ruesch and her family for donating $6.75 Million to establish the Otto Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers. The event was attended by many of Georgetown’s leaders, along with some friends of the Ruesch family. One of them, who used to work in E501 for Phyllis, was successfully treated for a seminoma by Nancy Dawson shortly after she arrived here; I am sure Nancy’s ears were burning as a result of the lavish praise that was tossed around about her skills as a physician and as a warm and caring person.

During the meal, I had the privilege of making a few remarks and introducing the star of the evening, John Marshall, who will direct the Ruesch Center. I do not exaggerate when I tell you I truly was the warm-up act for a superstar. John’s powerful and totally captivating presentation mesmerized the gathering; he embodied humanism, clinical virtuosity, soaring ambition, and a profound sense of the value of every single human life. In short, he exemplified cura personalis, and embodied everything that is good about Georgetown, and about Lombardi. I was humbled and honored to share the dais with him. To give you an idea of how he touched all of us, the Georgetown University Executive Committee met on Wednesday and Thursday, and at least four different speakers referred directly to John’s presentation as a prime example of how Georgetown University’s values can translate into action. Of course, both John and I expressed our profound gratitude to the Ruesch family for making John’s vision come to life. The establishment of the Ruesch Center will long be remembered as the critical event in the evolution of our efforts to make a difference in these challenging diseases.

On another note, please check out Lombardi’s presence as a sponsor of WashFM’s breast cancer awareness month activities. I am very pleased to see (hear?) us reaching out into the community in this way.

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Jun 19 2009

Addressing disparities in our city

by at 5:09 pm

I attended the DC Cancer Consortium Meeting at the Cosmos Club last Wednesday night where representatives from Georgetown, GW, Washington Hospital Center, Howard University, and the American Cancer Society met to discuss how to invest in strategies that will reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality in the District. For me, one of the highlights was seeing Arnie Potosky in action. I had invited him to discuss a proposal he’s putting together to establish a District of Columbia Cancer Outreach, Research, and Evaluation Database. It’s still under active discussion, but we’re hopeful that it or something like it will be adopted by the consortium. Steve Paterno also presented a very interesting proposal for a patient navigation network for the District. What pleases me about these initiatives is that they provide us with collaborative outlets for addressing disparities and health care access and care for our city.

Thursday morning I met with Lucile Adams-Campbell to get her thoughts about how we might coordinate obesity and cancer initiatives. We cam out with some exciting ways of connecting our science with the outreach and population intervention studies. These were echoed in a later meeting I had with Peter Shields.

After my meeting with Lucile about obesity, I then tried to increase the level of obesity at Lombardi by taking the CCSG team to lunch at the French Embassy. It was great to have a formal opportunity to thank them for a wonderful job and their hard work on getting the grant out the door.

I’m looking forward to attending the Gala Benefit Committee Reception tonight at the home of Darby and Monte Gingery, who are good friends of Tanya Potter Adler and Howard Adler who are this year’s Gala co-chairs. I will be joined by several of my Lombardi colleagues to thank the committee for all its hard work and provide continuing inspiration for our old and new friends who actively support the cancer center. By the way, you may want to check out the new website for the Lombardi Gala, which launches on Friday.

On Thursday, the Shared Resource Directors and Managers attended the first organizational meeting as we gear up to get the posters ready for the site visit. I was very gratified to see a member of nearly every Shared Resource in attendance, and I look forward to reviewing the poster drafts in the coming weeks.

I’m also looking forward to visiting Ohio State on Friday to present Grand Rounds there. I’m particularly interested in the opportunity to present some data from lab, which was just submitted yesterday for publication. It’s nice to know that I can continue to stay active in the laboratory and the clinic. It reminds me why I’m here and why it’s important to have cancer centers.

I won’t be here next week. I’m taking a week off and Harriet and I will be in an undisclosed and unfindable location. So don’t expect any blogs next week.

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