Mar 05 2009

I spoke too soon

by at 9:25 pm

So it was 13 degrees outside when I left for work yesterday morning. It’s so much fun to live in “semi-tropical” Washington.

Despite the climate, I did have a scientifically interesting week. As I mentioned in my last post, Khaled El-Shami, Carolyn Hurley, and I met last Thursday with investigators from the NCI bone marrow transplant (BMT) program to discuss a really exciting protocol involving the infusion of allogeneic natural killer cells in patients with refractory myeloid malignancies. Key to the protocol will be the prospective haplotyping of natural killer cells by Carolyn; this will help select patients with appropriate mismatches that can drive natural killer cell recognition and attack against myeloid leukemia cells. The protocol is undergoing refinement as a result of our discussions and I’m hopeful to get it started in the very near future.

On Tuesday afternoon I had the pleasure of participating in the annual Spring Convocation in Gaston Hall, and was proud to have the opportunity to congratulate Bob Clarke and Mary Beth Martin for receiving vicentennial medals for 20 years of service to Georgetown. Joseph Neale, professor of biology, gave a thoroughly entertaining review of his life at Georgetown. Following the Convocation, the 1789 Society dinner was held in Riggs Library, celebrating the University’s most generous supporters. It’s reassuring to know that even during these difficult economic times that our core philanthropic support remains strong.

Last night, Harriet and I attended the Friends of Cancer Research annual awards banquet at the Hotel Monaco. It was great to see Ryan Hohman, who now works for Friends of Cancer Research, and we spent the evening with Peter Shields and his wife Leslie. Ellen Sigel, who heads Friends of Cancer Research, is a genuine force in the cancer advocacy world and has focused effectively on legislative remedies including advocacy of the Kennedy-Hutchison bill. Our location in DC and our identity as part of Georgetown University give us many opportunities to be a part of the action and to hopefully play a role in defining our nation’s agenda with respect to cancer research.

Finally, if anyone missed the Town Hall meeting yesterday, I have posted the slides online. I also recommend that everyone peruse the slides from Howard Federoff’s meeting about the stimulus bill.

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Feb 26 2009

Getting ready for spring

by at 10:54 am

I don’t know about you, but knowing that Spring Training has started gives me some hope that Winter is finally winding down! It will feel good to walk around without needing a coat.

As always, this is a very busy time of the year. Last week, John Marshall and I had a very interesting conference call regarding a new vaccine that could be used in pancreatic cancer patients. This week, Khaled El Shami, Carolyn Hurley, and I are meeting with the NCI bone marrow transplant program people to further develop an exciting allogeneic natural killer cell infusion protocol for refractory myeloid leukemia patients. This collaboration truly represents an integrated clinical and laboratory research initiative with our NCI colleagues.

And, on Wednesday, Anton Wellstein showed me some really interesting data from the new Translational Laboratory headed by Narayan Shivapurkar, who joined us in January from the University of Texas, Southwestern, where he worked with John Minna. This laboratory plans to use multiplexed protein and phosphoprotein detection assays on a novel instrument, the Meso Scale Discovery Platform, and the data thus far indicate that a sensitive and fairly comprehensive analysis of key protein phosphorylation events can be monitored using small tissue samples. This tool should greatly expand our capacity to conduct correlative science in the context of clinical trials; if you have any questions, check with Anton or Narayan. Narayan is also developing microRNA expression assays; the very early returns are encouraging. Once the assays have been successfully developed, they too can serve to extend our clinical trial support repertoire. Needless to say, both the phosphorylation and microRNA technologies will prove to be valuable for all types of science that is done at Lombardi.

I’ve also had some interesting meetings in the last week. For example, I participated in a conference call with our Population Science focused External Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) on Monday, and received helpful suggestions and very positive feedback as we head into the homestretch for our CCSG submission. I’ll have more information about this at Wednesday’s Town Hall Meeting.

On that note, have a great rest of the week and please make sure to join us at the Lombardi Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, March 4th.

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