May 14 2010

At the Avon Walk Finish Line

by at 1:27 pm

Our team at the finish line

Our team at the finish line

This is the last Avon Walk report you’ll hear from me for some time. But I want to share with you the good news that the Lombardi/CBCC team raised nearly $70,000 and was ranked 6th in terms of money raised going into the Walk. The team of walkers was fantastic and the cheering sections in front of the Hospital and by the finish line were potent reminders that Lombardi is a force to be reckoned with in this region when it comes to supporting breast cancer. Congratulations to all of the walkers and to the team’s co-captains, Jeanne Mandelblatt and my wife, Harriet. I want to particularly thank Jeanne for her dynamic leadership of the team. I also want to thank Gina DeLuca for her behind-the-scenes support throughout the planning process and Peter Shields for leadership of the medical team. Due to the unseasonably warm temperatures, there were many dehydrated and cramping walkers, some of whom had to be transported to local hospitals. While I wasn’t able to walk as much with the team, I was gratified that I am still able to recognize dehydration and order fluids.

I can tell you that the team is already planning next year’s walk and I hope my leg has healed a bit before then.

I went to visit Anton Wellstein a couple weeks ago to talk about some work we’re doing with siRNA library screening. We’ve identified new targets for intervention for pancreatic cancer. And as so often happens with Anton, a spirited scientific discussion arose. It turns out that we are using potentially complementary strategies that could readily be imagined in a program project grant application or other collaborative research grant. Our conversation reminded me about the diversity and depth of the research that we do here and the need to maintain open channels of communication to assure that we leverage our excellence wherever possible. For example, I was

Todd Waldmans Cancer Research Cover

Todd Waldman's Cancer Research Cover

talking with Mike Pishvaian on Monday morning about work he’s been doing with cdk4 inhibitors, building on his research showing that cdk4 interacts with smad3 in several cancer models. He remarked on Todd Waldman’s very nice recent paper in Cancer Research that ended up the cover story for that issue. Although Todd employed a glioblastoma model for his research, he used a reagent that Mike had suggested he employ.

Finally, it is with a mixture of regret and happiness that I have to report that Allison Whitney will be leaving us as of July 1. She has foolishly decided that her best future belongs in San Francisco, where she and her boyfriend will be moving to pursue new opportunities. The source of my regret is obvious, but I am happy for Allison that she is following her dreams. In her four years at Lombardi Allison has transformed the Communications Office and has dragged us (not always kicking and screaming) into the 21st century. Her work to create a modern and useful website will serve us well for many years to come. A search for her successor will commence shortly. Please join me in wishing Allison well as she transitions to her new life.

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Apr 28 2010

The Final Stretch

by at 2:24 pm

So, Todd Waldman popped into my office on Monday to show me the April 15 cover of “Cancer Research”, which features a figure from his article, “CDK4/6 Inhibition Arrests the Growth of GBM Intracranial Xenografts.” The in vivo imaging depicted on the cover really highlights the power of such technology, and also serves as a reminder of the potential power of rationally-designed targeted cancer therapies. Congatulations to Todd and his colleagues for this very nice accomplishment!

Of course, I think Todd’s real reason for stopping up was to vent about how the Caps are trying to blow their series against the Canadians, and to see if I had any insights into how the Flyers might fare if they face the Caps in a second round series. I have no insights to offer other than it seems to be helpful to have a very hot goalie on your side in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

We are in the final week of preparations for the Avon Walk, and are in our final fundraising push. Unfortunately, my right knee and leg have blown up a bit (too much training?), and I may need to mix my walking with service in the medical tent. Either way, I’ll be there.

Have a great week.

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Apr 07 2009

The importance of teaching (and the core grant)

by at 3:58 pm

Congratulations to Aykut Üren for receiving the Geza M. Illes Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Georgetown University School of Medicine’s 31st Annual Golden Apple Awards Ceremony. The award honors an outstanding first-year teacher “who serves as an inspirational role model in the field of gross anatomy.” This is a real testimony to his dedication and effectiveness as a teacher. It’s wonderful to know that a fine researcher such as Aykut is able to find the time and energy to make a contribution to training medical students. Speaking of Aykut’s research, he is hosting the Wnt 2009 Conference to be held on June 11-14 here at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall.  Clearly he is able to do more than one thing well at a time!

I’ve been feeling a bit jet-lagged. I was in Whistler, British Columbia, co-chairing a Keystone Symposium on Antibodies as Drugs. The meeting was co-located with the Targeted Cancer Therapies Keystone Meeting so I had the wonderful opportunity to go to two meetings in areas of great interest to me. I am told that the skiing was great though all I remember of my down time was staring into a laptop screen editing core grant program write-ups. At least I didn’t break an ankle while using track changes.

Last Thursday afternoon, I chaired the Systems Medicine task force for the GUMC strategic planning initiative. We’re making good progress in understanding how to roll out systems medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center using G-DOC as a template. However we still have a lot of work to do.

I also chatted with Joe Teague and Elena Jeannotte about the upcoming Lombardi Celebration on November 7th. I am pleased to announce Tanya Potter Adler and her husband, Howard Adler, will be our co-chairs. Tanya is the daughter of Dr. John Potter, the founding director of Lombardi, and she is embracing her role with enthusiasm. We are grateful to her for taking on this responsibility.

On the media front, kudos to Todd Waldman for his remarkable appearance on CNN. In contrast to my interview on Fox 5 last Wednesday (only one sentence was picked up), Todd really had a chance to share his ideas, and to an international audience.

Finally, I plan to spend the weekend (when I’m not reviewing core grant write-ups) preparing responses to the various ARRA initiatives. I hope everyone is taking advantage of this remarkable funding mechanism. It is a great way to add depth and strength to our respective research programs.If you want to know more about the opportunities, please refer to the following links:

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