Apr 01 2010

Spring in Washington

by at 1:59 pm

I simply cannot believe how beautiful Washington is at this time of year. I feel very lucky to be here to enjoy Spring, and of course to seeing everything “up close and personal” as I train for the Avon Walk. I am delighted to report that I have exceeded my personal fund raising target of $1800, and can now devote my efforts to helping my Lombardi/CBCC teammates achieve their goals. I hope some of you will want to help too. If you click on this link, you’ll be at the team’s homepage, showing who on the team still needs to raise money to meet their fund raising goals. Any help you provide will be greatly appreciated.

It’s been a quiet week for meetings, since Harriet and I scooted up to Philadelphia for our family’s Passover seder on Monday night, and got back into the office on Wednesday. And, of course things are winding down around here with Good Friday and Easter approaching. I took advantage of the time to complete my on-line human subjects certification, which is needed for all investigators who engage in research involving human subjects. I have clinic today, and must note that I am already seeing the impact of the Ruesch Center in my practice. Each of the major GI cancers now has a designated nurse navigator, and groups of clinicians and investigators are beginning to coalesce around these diseases. I was a pretty active clinician when I was at Fox Chase, which had a very active GI cancer program, but I can barely keep up with the new pancreatic cancer patients who are coming in through our active surgery and gastroenterology practices! This volume creates terrific opportunities for translational research focused on pancreatic cancer. And, knowing John Marshall as I do, I am sure that this is just the beginning.

Please accept my warmest wishes for a happy holiday.

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Jan 21 2010

Fighting breast cancer – in the lab and on the walking trail

by at 6:20 pm

Greetings from the “Breast Cancer Think Tank 20,” which is co-organized by former Lombardi Director Marc Lippman. There are many other former Lombardi people here, including Vered Stearns, Dan Hayes, Jimmy Rae, Shaomeng Wang and Doug Yee. All of them view Lombardi with great affection, and it is good to know that over the years we have generated so many wonderful sparks that have ignited important research at many distinguished institutions. And, we are well-represented at the meeting by an equally distinguished group of current Lombardi faculty, so we must be doing something right. I must say that this is one of the very best meetings I have attended in many years. It has the feeling of a Gordon Conference, but with an amazing amount of world-class give-and-take with every presentation. Naturally, when I spoke I stayed away from the talons of the ER signaling mavens and tried to convince the audience that the answer to breast cancer is in the field of immunology. Perhaps I am a little biased? However, I have come away with a bunch of new ideas for experiments, and that is always a sign of a good meeting.

It’s time for me to sign up for this year’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Yes, I am walking this year! I look forward to being a part of the Lombardi team, and hope that this commitment will stimulate an even higher level of support for our efforts to raise money for this wonderful cause. Last year, our Lombardi team raised over $48,000 and our successful fundraising, large team of walkers and supportive cheering section let everyone at the event know that Lombardi is clearly on the move. As you know, our very own Capital Breast Care Center has benefited greatly from Avon’s support and this is a wonderful (if blister-inducing) way for me to do my part for the cause. I think I’ll need some great walking shoes, so if anybody has a favorite brand, please let me know.

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Nov 02 2009

Obligation and Opportunity

by at 11:03 am

I’m glad that so many Lombardi faculty and staff were able to attend last week’s Town Hall meeting on Health Disparities in the Research Building Auditorium. The panel engaged in a lively discussion regarding the important issue of health disparities with a focus on the District of Columbia. Lucile Adams-Campbell really represented Lombardi in a thoughtful and persuasive manner. Another highlight of the session was the powerful presence of Tovoia Miner, who relayed her experience with breast cancer and the role the Capital Breast Care Center played in assuring timely diagnosis and therapy. I am proud of what Lombardi is doing in the area of Health Disparities and look forward to even more impact from these efforts with Lucile’s leadership. I’m also appreciative of the efforts of the Friends of Cancer Research in conceiving of and organizing this important event.

For those of you whose work infrequently crosses into the Cancer Center’s clinical activities, one area that I’ve been interested in strengthening is multidisciplinary patient care and research. This requires an expansion of Lombardi’s focus beyond medical hematology and oncology to more fully engage our colleagues in radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and other sub-specialties. Several weeks ago I met with a number of the clinical department leaders to describe what Lombardi is doing and to solicit ideas about how we can work together more effectively. It was a pleasure to meet with Bruce Luxon, the new Chair of Medicine, and to continue to work with Greg Gagnon in Radiation Medicine. I was pleased to see Lynt Johnson, who is Interim Chair of Surgery, and discuss ways to incorporate surgical oncology into Lombardi’s research portfolio. I was doubly pleased when Lynt revealed that he not only loves golf, but is as bad at it as I am. I look forward to sharing a few shanks with him in the future.

Finally, on Thursday and Friday I’ll be representing Lombardi at the NCI Translational Science Meeting, called TSM 2. Fortunately, the meeting doesn’t require substantial travel as it will be held in Tyson’s corner. Before I head out on Thursday, I will be giving the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds lecture in the Gorman Auditorium. I hope to see some of you there.

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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 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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