May 20 2009

Out the Door

by at 2:56 pm

The completed CCSG renewal application (1243 pages of pure poetry) goes to the printer in less than 2 hours. What else is there to say?

It has been quite an experience and I am delighted to have shared it with so many of you over the past year. Unbelievably I managed to do some work on behalf of the cancer center in the midst of the surprisingly serene final days of sending out the grant.

On Monday morning I welcomed a remarkable group of investigators who attended a childhood cancer workshop host by Subha Madhavan. The workshop aimed to design a data portal to study pediatric malignancies. While I wasn’t able to attend all of it, great ideas were flying around the Warwick Evans conference room while I was there.

On Tuesday I paid a quick visit to the American Legacy Foundation open house to congratulate Dave Abrams on his accomplishments in establishing and staffing the Schroader Institute. I really look forward to seeing the Shroeder Institute and Lombardi work together to study and influence tobacco use.

Now that the core grant is (almost) out the door, I can turn my attention to finishing two RC2 grants, doing a couple of grant reviews for an upcoming P01 study section, and wrapping up the GUMC systems medicine design team deliberations in advance of an upcoming retreat. After wrestling the core grant into submission, everything else seems a bit easier in comparison.

Have a great Memorial Day holiday.

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Apr 07 2009

The importance of teaching (and the core grant)

by at 3:58 pm

Congratulations to Aykut √úren 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:

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Mar 26 2009

Funding feast and famine

by at 9:00 pm

I’ve had a very busy week, but I believe I will be a lot busier between now and the end of May. Besides the massive amount of work required to get the core grant finalized – and I should note that I am not bearing this burden alone – we are currently being subjected to the perfect storm of funding opportunities from the stimulus package. Everyday it seems that another funding opportunity is released and I am impressed by the vigorous response that many of us at the cancer center are showing to the opportunities being presented. I must say it feels peculiar to have such a potential feast provided to us in the midst of an economic famine at the national and international levels. All I can be sure of is that I will be replacing my blackberry hunch with laptop postural fatigue over the next few months.

Peter Shields, Joe Teague, and I attended a cocktail party hosted by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to support the Capital Breast Care Center. The event was at the Senator’s lovely home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The attendees responded warmly to our remarks, though I was surprised that so few of them knew about the CBCC, or knew where it was, even though it’s in their neighborhood. This treasure has been buried, but we will do what we can to assure that everyone knows that it is a special resource to the residents of the District.

Please mark your calendars for the reintroduction of the Lombardi Celebration, formerly known as the Lombardi Gala, on November 7th. We have identified and look forward to announcing the names of this year’s co-chairs.

I spent the first two days of this week in New York City chairing a grants review panel for the Israel Cancer Research Fund. Israeli scientists provide us with clear evidence that it is possible to do wonderful science in a resource constrained environment that would make those of us at Lombardi feel as if we were working in opulent splendor.

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Mar 12 2009

Stimulating discussions – and the stimulus package

by at 12:28 pm

It was a great pleasure for me to see Stan Gerson when he came to Lombardi to deliver Grand Rounds last Friday. Not only is he an old friend and study section colleague, but he’s also a valued member of our External Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC). As a cancer center director, his perspective and insight is very valuable to me as we head into the CCSG renewal. Even though Stan usually slept during sections on tumor immunology, I forgive him his transgressions and found his presentation on Friday to be interesting and provocative. I was, however, disappointed to be one of only a handful of clinicians in the audience. I don’t see how we could have better speakers at Grand Rounds, so hopefully this will change. Everyone is busy, but the opportunity to participate in exciting academic activities is and will remain a core value of this cancer center.

Harriet and I attended the Pediatrics Gala at the Omni Shoreham Saturday night. It reminded me that Jeff Toretsky and Aziza Shad are hosting a very significant symposium on Targeted Therapy for Childhood Cancers that will feature a great lineup of speakers. It will be held on Friday, April 17 in the Research Building Auditorium. Please remember to put it on your calendar and register for the event.

On Monday we had our first full senior operational team meeting where we welcomed John Marshall into the group. The senior operational leadership team now consists of Peter Shields, Michael Vander Hoek, John Marshall, and myself. I think it’s important to include a strong clinical perspective in these weekly operations meetings, and John’s input proved invaluable to the discussions.

I have also had several meetings related to fund raising in the past week. Aside from my routinely scheduled meeting with Joe Teague, I also met with the University Office of Advancement’s “Discovery Intiative” team, which consists of roughly 20 individuals who interface with Georgetown alumni, friends, and supporters. I was able to share our vision for the future and can assure you that vision was enthusiastically received. Since these people engage their constituents looking for opportunities to create relationships that can benefit the cancer center, I came away quite encouraged.

Finally, you have no doubt been bombarded by a variety of messages regarding stimulus package grant opportunities. We are doing our best to coordinate our activities and provide support to facilitate successful applications. The large construction grants will be handled centrally through the University, but many of the other proposals, including grant supplements, should be considered by all of us. If you have not already done so, please let us know your plans for submitting grants using this form.

Have a great week.

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