Aug 28 2009

A quick trip to South Korea

by at 2:00 pm

Greetings from Washington, DC! I returned last night from a very interesting visit to Dankook University in South Korea, where I was accompanied by Craig Jordan, Al Fornace, Eliot Rosen, Priscilla Furth and Insoo Bae. Dankook is part of South Korea’s “World Class University” initiative, and we all participated in a “WCU” symposium held at Dankook. It was an interesting meeting, and South Korea was simply fascinating. Plus, the plane ride was so long that I had plenty of time to work on my CCSG site visit presentation.

I am looking forward to the mock site visit with our External Scientific Advisory Committee on September 9, and cannot wait for September 24 (the day after the site visit) to arrive.

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Jul 16 2009

Army generals and handprints

by at 12:45 pm

After a week of vacation and our Town Hall Meeting, I’m back to the blog.

As you know, we launched the new Lombardi website on July 1st. You can read about the changes we’ve made on the new Lombardi Magazine website. There are a number of improvements to the new site, but I want you to know that there is still more to come. The next projects under development by Mark Goetz and Allison Whitney are the capability to provide individual faculty with laboratory pages that they can update and an internal website to help Lombardi faculty and staff access the various resources at their disposal. We’d love to hear your comments on the site. Feel free to leave a note here, or email Mark or Allison.

Over the past two weeks we’ve also been in increasingly regular communication with NCI regarding the upcoming site visit. Things are on track as we proceed with our rehearsals for the presentations and the associated preparations. If you happen to run into Ellen McLaughlin or any members of her team please thank them for all that they’re doing in their work for the Cancer Center.

I was excited to meet with a representative from Springer, the publisher, on July 6th about an Encyclopedia of Cancer Therapeutic Targets. John Marshall will be the chief editor of the volume, and other editors include me, Anton Wellstein, our old friend Ed Gelmann, and Howard Kaufman at Mount Sinai Medical School. We’re going to be creating a novel and easy to use compendium of cancer-related molecular targets that can be used for quick reference, but with links to deeper annotation. This is an exciting project and I look forward to being involved in it.

On July 8th, a delegation of Lombardi faculty traveled to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to meet with John Potter and his colleagues to discuss possible collaborations. We identified a number of areas of potential interest and we will be following up on many of these. In case anybody is ever dismayed by what they perceive to be excessive bureaucracy at Georgetown, we arrived at Walter Reed in 2 vehicles and after going through security (where my poor car was strip-searched) we proceeded to the parking spots which had been assigned to us. When we got there, we found that each of them was occupied by cars that were traveling with a general. Apparently generals get priority treatment in the army. So we circled Walter Reed for a half hour and I ended up doing the next logical thing – I parked in a Colonel’s spot. Despite the late start, the Lombardi delegation was intrigued by the remarkable clinical and laboratory resources available through collaboration with Walter Reed. But the next time I go, I’m either getting a taxi or hitching a ride with a general.

Best of all, yesterday morning I had the great pleasure of receiving a $40,000 check along with Aziza Shad and David Nelson from the Hyundai Hope on Wheels event. This is a terrific partnership between all of the Hyundai dealers in the country. At the event, children from the pediatric heme/onc clinic dipped their hands in paint and put their handprints on a new Santa Fe Hyundai, and the handprinted car tours the thirty different pediatric cancer centers that receive funds from Hope on Wheels. The check to Lombardi will go to fund the pediatric survivorship program run by Aziza.

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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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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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May 14 2009

11 days left

by at 1:38 pm

The CCSG submission is due May 25th and will be sent in on Friday morning at 9 am. Needless to say, I have been doing nothing else lately but work on the grant, along with a small army of dedicated faculty and staff. Thanks to everyone who has done such a great job putting together a document that accurately reflects the accomplishments and plans of this terrific cancer center. After we all enjoy our Memorial Day weekend, will then switch gears and plan intensively for the Sept 23rd site visit.

I’d love to chat more, but now I have to get back to work.

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May 08 2009

Getting the Word Out about Lombardi

by at 11:52 am

I had a wonderful wet weekend cheering on the Lombardi team at the Avon Walk. I was proud of our team this year. We had 23 walkers who combined to raise $46,000.  It’s nice to be able to have a bigger impact for such a wonderful cause. Even more importantly the Lombardi cheering section was loud and quite prominent at many of the cheering stations. This was a big change from last year where only one person served as the Lombardi-designated cheerer.

You can bet that many people noticed our presence this year, and many people commented on Lombardi’s walking team, cheerers, and coordination of medical services for the Walk. We received a lovely check from the Avon Foundation at the Walk’s closing ceremony which will support the operation of the Capital Breast Care Center, and the head of the Foundation made special note of Lombardi’s increased presence at the Walk. As I’ve told you before, I want Lombardi to be a presence at important events like this, and this was a good start. But wait till next year!

On a related note, I had the horrifying experience of waking up to the sound of my own voice on the radio on Monday morning. Beth Beck and I were interviewed by local NPR affiliate WAMU about the Avon Walk, and when my alarm went off at 6 AM the next day, this is what I heard.

I attended the NCI Cancer Centers director’s retreat in Pentagon City on Monday evening and Tuesday (where John Niederhuber congratulated me on the successful Avon Walk – he must have heard the WAMU story). It appears as if the cancer centers should not expect a windfall for essential infrastructure from the stimulus package or the growing NIH budget. However it is clear that pay lines will be supported for R01s, with 16% pay lines and the flexibility to reach up to the 25th percentile in some instances. So let’s keep writing those grants.

Yesterday, I spent my day with the Lombardi Celebration Committee describing the work we do. I was inspired by the dedication and added energy of the group coming from new members. This is an important way to get the word out about Lombardi, and I look forward to attending the Celebration on November 7th.

I then drove directly to Capitol Hill to participate in a effort on behalf of cancer centers organized by the AACI and Friends of Cancer Research. I had a chance to meet with Legislative Assistants of several Members of Congress. While one never knows if those activities yield immediate dividends, it was nice that one of the Legislative Asssistants said, “It’s nice to see you again,” which means our message is getting across.

Oh, by the way, we have a core grant due on the 25th. We’re now in the home stretch and the final pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. If you happen to run into Ellen McLaughlin or Stephanie Pomerleau in the hallway, please give them your thanks because they are doing a wonderful job managing the complex task of putting together the grant submission.

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Oct 16 2008

Congratulations to Lucile Adams-Campbell

by at 10:45 am

I have the distinct pleasure of announcing that Lucile Adams-Campbell has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (read the press release). This is a remarkable achievement. I am sure you’ll join me in congratulating Lucile. As you know, Lucile recently joined us, and this external recognition further reinforces my delight in having her at Lombardi. Stay tuned for news about a special reception to recognize her achievement.

Dr. Potter with his portrait.

Dr. Potter with his portrait.

I really enjoyed last Friday’s lecture and reception honoring Dr. John Potter. I know the recognition of his founding contributions meant a lot to him. If you haven’t seen his portrait, check it out by the elevators in the Lombardi lobby.

Thursday is a big day for me, as I finally start seeing patients again. I’ll only have one half-day of clinic per week, but I can assure you that patient care is very important to me, and I am convinced that the humbling responsibility that comes with the territory inspires me and lends added urgency to my research and my research ambitions for Lombardi. What we all do really matters.

Finally, plans for submitting our competitive CCSG renewal are humming along. We have received first drafts for all the programs and cores, and now the hard work of reviewing the write-ups (I will be ably assisted by a small army of internal reviewers) has begun. After one round of revisions, the write-ups will go out to our ESAC for their review and comments.

That’s all for this week.

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Aug 22 2008

The CCSG director’s overview

by at 9:06 am

While my wife Harriet recovers from a broken ankle, I’ve had a bit of extra time to work on projects at home. So I’ve begun working on the director’s overview portion of the CCSG competitive renewal. While I’m at an extraordinarily early stage of working through that section, it’s already clear to me that the Lombardi not only survived, but in fact thrived over the past six years, due in large part to the great people that work here. For example, our total funding grew from about $70 million in 2002 to roughly $100 million by early this year. While our very solid foundation of excellence won’t make it any easier to write the competitive renewal (it is an awful lot of work, as you know), we will have great stories to tell the reviewers.

I really enjoyed this week’s Faculty Research Seminar by Chris Loffredo. (I guess the weekly seminars will be a theme in my blog posts.) He spoke about gender differences in bladder cancer, and I thought it was remarkable to see the broad range of disciplines that are represented at Lombardi. I was particularly struck by his openness to and interest in developing collaborations across disciplinary boundaries. I guess I’m also a little jealous of him because he gets to deal with a completely different type of red tape when doing his studies than the rest of us have to deal with here in DC.

The other thing that I wanted to share is that I’ll be on vacation next week with my family in Long Beach Island and I promised that I would spend no more than two hours each day on email. So I hope everybody will be kind in my absence and keep your emails down to a torrent.

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