Nov 30 2009

A Remarkable Trip

by at 3:35 pm

Well, I am back from trips to South Korea, and then after a brief interlude in DC, to Philadelphia to visit family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I know this will sound like I’m gloating, but I must say the Eagles’ victory over the Redskins on Sunday made for a fine ending to a holiday weekend.

No, I did not try turkey with kimchee dressing…

South Korea is really remarkable, with a culture that is at once familiar and exotic. Perhaps my most interesting non-work experience was a tour of the demilitarized zone, and a chance to walk through one of the clandestine tunnels dug by North Korea to support a potential surprise attack. The tunnels are 6 x 6 feet, go about 1000 feet below ground and are pretty long. Being tall, I had to crouch my way through a few hundred meters of the so-called third tunnel, and must say that if I was one of the “attackers” they would have needed to have a stretcher and traction available for me when I exited the tunnel!

I had a chance to visit and speak at both the National Cancer Center and at Seoul National University, both of which are extremely impressive, though I spent more time in Cheonan, at Dankook University. The President of Dankook University and I discussed ways to help Dankook establish a cancer center in Cheonan, which (depending upon traffic and location in the province surrounding Cheonan) is anywhere from one to four hours away from Seoul; currently, everybody in that area (which contains well over 500,000 people) must travel to Seoul for therapy if they get a diagnosis of cancer. Even in countries as advanced as South Korea, so much work on the health care infrastructure remains to be done.

I am looking forward to this week; in particular, I’ll be attending a luncheon on Tuesday to thank the Lombardi Gala volunteers for their fabulous efforts to make the event such a wonderful success. I know I had a terrific time!

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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 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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