Derek Raghavan, MD, has been named President of Levine Cancer Institute, which was established by Carolinas HealthCare System last fall with a $20 million grant from the Leon Levine Foundation. He is expected to start at the institute in April.
For the past six years, he has been Chairman and Director of the Cleveland Clinic”s Taussig Cancer Center. The search for a president to lead the new Institute had been ongoing since October, a news release noted, which mentioned that Dr. Raghavan was chosen “from a large field of top cancer professionals from across the country.”
New facilities are being added at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte to accommodate the Institute, to expand research capabilities, and to enhance the treatments available for rare and complex cancers. The Institute will also enhance community-based cancer care, and the plan is to invest approximately $500 million over the next decade to improve cancer treatment, research, and education.
The $20 million grant from the Levine Foundation is the largest philanthropic gift ever awarded by that organization and was accompanied by a commitment from community volunteers to raise an additional $5 million in endowment funds.
Leon Levine said in a statement that he was especially impressed with Dr. Raghavan's ability to recruit a team of highly capable, highly enthusiastic colleagues with uncommon levels of expertise in a wide variety of cancer specialties,’ which fits the vision that he and his wife have for the advancement of health care in the region.
Robert Maki, MD, PhD, has been appointed Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and Medical Director of the Sarcoma Cancer Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
“As a leader in soft-tissue and bone sarcoma research, Dr. Maki has made significant contributions to understanding and targeting this highly complex tumor type,’ said Steven J. Burakoff, MD, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center. “We are pleased that he has joined Mount Sinai to further propel the Tisch Cancer Institute to the forefront of research and patient care.”
Dr. Maki's expertise in novel therapies for the treatment of soft-tissue and bone sarcomas, has led him to investigate new drugs to attack molecular targets for this rare and varied group of cancers. A news release notes that he is collaborating extensively with other oncologists; and he is also interested in novel clinical trial designs and in translational laboratory research to identify new targets that will inform future clinical trials.
Gustavo Leone, PhD, has been appointed Associate Director of Basic Research for Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James). Dr. Leone also serves as Director of the Pelotonia Fellowship Program within OSUCCC-James, which provides funding to support the cancer research efforts of Ohio State students. The grants are funded with a portion of the nearly $12 million raised during the first two years of the Pelotonia grassroots cycling tour. The next Pelotonia is scheduled for Aug. 19-21, 2011.
The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research has issued a call for nominations. The award recognizes individuals “whose scientific research has made, or has the potential to make, significant transformational contributions toward the improvement of human health.’ Further information is available at www.pauljanssenaward.com, and the deadline is February 15.
The award includes a $100,000 cash prize and is named in honor of scientist Dr. Paul Janssen (1926-2003). Known by colleagues throughout the scientific community as “Dr. Paul,’ he was responsible for research in many different disease areas including pain management, psychiatry, infectious disease, and gastroenterology and founded Janssen Pharmaceutica, NV, a Johnson & Johnson Company.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has received a five-year $10.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study colorectal and pancreatic cancer. The Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE), grant in gastrointestinal cancers brings together basic and clinical researchers to test new approaches for cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.
Principal investigator for the new grant is Dean Brenner, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Michigan Medical School and the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System. Researchers from nine different departments from the U-M Medical School and School of Public Health will collaborate on the grant.
The GI SPORE grant is centered on four major projects, all of which will be tested in both laboratory research and clinical trials: Preventing colorectal cancer, early detection of pancreatic cancer, improving existing pancreatic cancer treatments; and developing new pancreatic cancer therapies.
The grant also allows for training of young cancer researchers to encourage the next generation of scientists.
Sandra M. Swain, MD, New President-Elect of ASCO
Sandra M. Swain, MD, is ASCO's new President-Elect, starting in June, and then serving as President for the 2012-2013 term.
Dr. Swain is Medical Director of Washington Cancer Institute at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, where she also serves on the Board of Directors. She is also Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Uniformed Services Health Science Center. She previously served as the Deputy Director of the Medicine Branch and Chief of the Cancer Therapeutics Branch at the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Swain, who is also newly reappointed to the ASCO Foundation Board of Directors, has led more than 20 clinical trials, and her research focuses on adjuvant therapy for breast cancer and molecular targeted therapy for advanced and inflammatory breast cancer. Among the other organizations she is also actively involved with, is the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, where she is Vice-Chair of the Breast Committee and a member of the Board of Directors.
In other ASCO election news, the following are the newly elected members of the Board of Directors:
- Gary Cohen, MD, has been elected to a Community Oncology seat. He is Medical Director of the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
- Carolyn Runowicz, MD, has been elected to a Surgical Oncology seat. She is Director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
- Eric Winer, MD, has been elected to an Undesignated Specialty seat. He is Chief of the Division of Women's Cancers and Thompson Senior Investigator in Breast Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and is also Chief Scientific Advisor to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
- Daniel F. Hayes, MD, has been elected to an Undesignated Specialty seat. He is Clinical Director of the Breast Cancer Program, Co-Director of the Breast Care Center and the Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- In addition, the following two individuals are newly elected members of the ASCO Nominating Committee
- Kathy Miller, MD, Associate Professor and the Sheila D. Ward Scholar at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
- Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and breast oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In addition, Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, is newly appointed to the ASCO Foundation Board of Directors; and John H. Glick, MD, was reappointed.
As ASCO's philanthropic arm, the Foundation seeks support for programs including thematic and Annual Meetings and Cancer.Net, ASCO's patient website, as well as programs at the grassroots level, such as the State Affiliate Program. A news release notes that the ASCO Foundation has to date funded some $67 million in research grants over the past 27 years.
Dr. Hortobagyi, a breast cancer expert and past president of ASCO, is Chair of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and Director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Glick, also a past president of ASCO, is Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Associate Dean for Resource Development and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, as well as President and Director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute.