Sep 25 2009

It’s finally September 24th

by at 10:58 am

So, we finally had our NCI Site Visit yesterday. And, in my opinion, we were great! The uniform high quality of the presentations was very impressive. Each of our speakers conveyed mastery and personal command of their responsibilities, scientific virtuosity and a keen understanding of their respective roles in the function of the cancer center. Responses to the site visitors’ questions were spot-on. It was clear that our programs were vibrant, organic entities, and not mere administrative artifices. The Shared Resource presentations and tours were splendid. Everybody involved conveyed a sense of shared mission, meaningful community and a clear vision of what Lombardi is, and where it is headed. I have participated in many site visits, and have never been at one where all these elements were so fully and transparently on display. I am especially grateful to our fabulous Associate Directors and Program Leaders, other speakers and Shared Resource Directors whose tireless work was evident in the fine product that we presented. I am convinced that we portrayed ourselves accurately, and in a manner that should lead any reasonable deliberative body to conclude that we are most worthy of continued comprehensive designation for a period of five years. I am so proud of who we are, and what we have accomplished, and I am excited about our future.

I have never been at a site visit that has been better organized, or went so smoothly. Ellen McLaughlin and her team were utterly magnificent. Allison Whitney’s slides were fabulous. It is easy to take such things for granted, but I can assure you that nobody worked harder, including me, than they did to prepare the CCSG application and then assure that the site visit would highlight all the wonderful work that is done at Lombardi. I am immensely grateful for their work, and I know that you share my appreciation.

Our Senior Leadership team really coalesced to support me during these final hectic weeks. Even though Craig Jordan has only been here for a short time, his piercing insights and wise counsel contributed greatly to assure that I struck the right “tone” in my remarks to the reviewers. I am especially grateful to John Marshall for his masterful analysis and integration and compelling presentation of our clinical and clinical research activities. As always, Michael Vander Hoek was always there, working to make sure that all of the many moving parts fit. Moreover, he was the unsung hero of the site visit, responding to a last-minute request by the site reviewers to magically provide a whole new set of numbers for their review. Finally, Peter Shields has been my partner in crime since I arrived, as we prepared for yesterday. I shudder to think of where I would have been, or how we could have acquitted ourselves so well yesterday, without his experience, insights and knowledge of Lombardi.

Poor Phyllis! Can you imagine what she has had to put up with over the past year? At least Mia was there to provide her with consolation…

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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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Mar 12 2009

Stimulating discussions – and the stimulus package

by at 12:28 pm

It was a great pleasure for me to see Stan Gerson when he came to Lombardi to deliver Grand Rounds last Friday. Not only is he an old friend and study section colleague, but he’s also a valued member of our External Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC). As a cancer center director, his perspective and insight is very valuable to me as we head into the CCSG renewal. Even though Stan usually slept during sections on tumor immunology, I forgive him his transgressions and found his presentation on Friday to be interesting and provocative. I was, however, disappointed to be one of only a handful of clinicians in the audience. I don’t see how we could have better speakers at Grand Rounds, so hopefully this will change. Everyone is busy, but the opportunity to participate in exciting academic activities is and will remain a core value of this cancer center.

Harriet and I attended the Pediatrics Gala at the Omni Shoreham Saturday night. It reminded me that Jeff Toretsky and Aziza Shad are hosting a very significant symposium on Targeted Therapy for Childhood Cancers that will feature a great lineup of speakers. It will be held on Friday, April 17 in the Research Building Auditorium. Please remember to put it on your calendar and register for the event.

On Monday we had our first full senior operational team meeting where we welcomed John Marshall into the group. The senior operational leadership team now consists of Peter Shields, Michael Vander Hoek, John Marshall, and myself. I think it’s important to include a strong clinical perspective in these weekly operations meetings, and John’s input proved invaluable to the discussions.

I have also had several meetings related to fund raising in the past week. Aside from my routinely scheduled meeting with Joe Teague, I also met with the University Office of Advancement’s “Discovery Intiative” team, which consists of roughly 20 individuals who interface with Georgetown alumni, friends, and supporters. I was able to share our vision for the future and can assure you that vision was enthusiastically received. Since these people engage their constituents looking for opportunities to create relationships that can benefit the cancer center, I came away quite encouraged.

Finally, you have no doubt been bombarded by a variety of messages regarding stimulus package grant opportunities. We are doing our best to coordinate our activities and provide support to facilitate successful applications. The large construction grants will be handled centrally through the University, but many of the other proposals, including grant supplements, should be considered by all of us. If you have not already done so, please let us know your plans for submitting grants using this form.

Have a great week.

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