Jun 10 2010

Taking the Time to Reconnect

by at 9:27 am

I attended ASCO last Friday through Sunday, and it was very interesting. It is an unbelievably huge meeting making it impossible to take in more than a tiny sliver of the many simultaneous session. It takes so long to get from one end of the convention center to the other, especially if one knows a lot of people. Combine that with the meetings that surround the ASCO meeting and it is all a bit overwhelming. That said, it was good to reconnect with colleagues and friends from around the country.

I left half way through ASCO’s annual meeting to attend the Georgetown University Executive Committee meeting which was held at the Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Center located in Maryland. I really enjoy these meetings because they remind me of the general excellence of our University and the commitment of its leadership to sustaining that excellence. Many of you may take this association for granted, having always been based at a university. However, I spent 23 years at a freestanding comprehensive cancer center, while that undiluted focus on cancer has its advantages; there are so many unexpected and delightful opportunities that emerge at a university based cancer center.

I returned to Lombardi on Wednesday just in time to attend the Shared Resource Symposium. I was delighted to see how much of a success the symposium was. Steve Byers told me it had something to do with free lunch. Personally, I thought it had more to do with the free pens with the cool logos…

Thursday and Friday will be dominated by my attendance as an ad hoc member of my old study section (CII). I have found the new grant format and review criteria to be challenging but have found the process to be perfectly reasonable and fair. I know this experience will make it easier when it’s time for me to prepare my R01 renewals. On Monday, I look forward to the eleventh annual Mens’ Event, which, like the Women and Wine Event held in April, raises money for Lombardi and provides a rallying point for many of our strongest supporters. The Mens’ Event focuses on prostate cancer, while Women and Wine emphasizes breast cancer. The two events are competing this year to see which one can raise the most money. I am rooting for both of them to win! The event will be held at Morton’s, and I am sure the steaks will be great. Whoever figures out a way to spike steak sauce and condiments with statins will no doubt make a fortune.

Have a great weekend.

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

Jun 04 2010

2010 ASCO Annual Meeting

by at 12:05 pm

Greetings from Chicago! I am at the annual ASCO meeting and am looking forward to the dizzying array of sessions and meetings awaiting me over the next few days. I’ll be discussing two abstracts at the GI cancer oral session on Sunday morning; these abstracts describe the use of adjuvant cetuximab (an anti-EGF receptor antibody) in patients with colorectal cancer. Of course, there will be a number of other presentations by Lombardi investigators:

Craig M. Kessler, MD
Oral Presentation
“Diagnosis and initial treatment of VTE in cancer patients”
Friday, June 4
1-3:15pm, E354a

Michael J. Pishvaian
Poster Discussion
“Final reporting of a phase I clinical trial of the oral PPAR-gamma agonist, CS-7017, in patients with advanced malignancies.”
Saturday, June 5
8am-12pm, E450a
1-2pm, E354b

Bruce D. Cheson, MD
Oral Presentation
“Lymphoma and Plasma Cell Disorders”
Sunday, June 6
7:45am, E Hall D1

Jeffrey Toretsky, MD
Education Session
“Targeting protein products of sarcoma specific translocations with small molecules”
Monday, June 7
8-9:15am, S406 (vista room)

Claudine Isaacs, MD
Poster Session Discussion
“Breast Cancer – Local-Regional and Adjuvant Therapy”
Monday, June 7
2-6pm, S403
5-6pm, N Hall B-1

Minetta Liu, MD
Oral Presentation
“Circulating Tumor Cells in Breast Cancer: Where are We?”
Monday, June 7
3-4:30pm, N Hall B-1

Aziza T. Shad, MD
Panel Discussion
“Palliative Care and Cancer in the Future”
Tuesday, June 8
9am-12:00pm, S504

If you’re at the meeting, remember to stop by and support your colleagues! I’ll have to leave Chicago the first thing Monday morning to return to DC for the Georgetown University Executive Retreat so I’ll miss the last half of the ASCO meeting.

I’ll be back in the office on Wednesday, just in time for the Shared Resources Day. We are lucky to have so many terrific Shared Resources, and the more you learn about them, the more opportunities you’ll have to make use of these facilities.

I’ll have to remember to try an authentic deep dish pizza this weekend; I’ve never had one in Chicago. I’ll let you know how that turns out in next week’s blog.

No responses yet | Categories: Events | Tags: ,

Jun 05 2009

Opportunities abound at ASCO

by at 8:31 am

I finally felt as if I could take a deep breath. The CCSG was in, I had submitted (or participated in) three RC2 proposals, and I had submitted a non-competing administrative R01 supplement. And then I went to ASCO.

As you know ASCO has become a huge meeting, dwarfed only by the pharma-related meetings that surround it. In fact, many ASCO attendees struggle to even make it to the scientific sessions. According to a cab driver I spoke with, whenever ASCO is held, it is the busiest week of the year in Orlando (I repeat – in Orlando!). However, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I was struck by the amazing opportunities there are to make important contributions to the field of cancer research. So many clinical trials were presented, yet few would qualify as high-quality experiments in the eyes of a rigorous scientist. After all, we humans belong to an outbred species, possess free will, and object to incessant sampling of tumors and normal organs to help our doctors learn about new treatments. This is our field’s great challenge, and Lombardi’s opportunity to make a real difference is embedded in that challenge.

So, what is that opportunity? I believe that some answers will arise from the identification of new targets or pathways and the testing of new drugs and treatment strategies. However, we rarely know how to maximize therapy with existing drugs, even when those drugs target molecular drivers of the malignancies. For example, trastuzumab works as a single agent in only about a third of women with previously untreated HER2/neu overexpressing metastatic breast cancer. I believe that well designed clinical trials that rigorously examine pharmacodynamic endpoints can identify potentially responsive patients, and can yield molecular insights that drive research and improve patient care. There is no reason why the Lombardi scientific and clinical research community can’t assume a leadership role in this dynamic environment. Even though I have seen enough RC1 and RC2 grants to last me for quite some time, I look forward to helping Lombardi to address the “Grand Opportunity” and “Challenge” of revolutionizing clinical trial design, devising and implementing innovative biomarker analyses and integrating the information to drive future discoveries.

For those of you who would like to learn more about targeted therapies, the NCI has produced a web tutorial for health professionals called, “Understanding Targeted Therapies for Cancer.” You can access it on the NCI’s website.

No responses yet | Categories: Research | Tags: ,