The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has named Dana-Farber Cancer Institute President and CEO Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, the 2011 recipient of the Margaret L. Kripke Legend Award for Promotion of Women in Cancer Research and Cancer Medicine. The national award is given annually to an individual in recognition of his or her sustained support and extraordinary dedication to enhancing the careers of women in cancer science and medicine. Women Faculty Programs at MD Anderson established this award in 2008 in honor of Margaret L. Kripke, PhD, for her unwavering advocacy for and promotion of women in academic medicine and science.
In the nomination letter, Glorian Sorensen, PhD, Faculty Vice President for Faculty Development at Dana-Farber, applauded Dr. Benz for being “an agent for change in creating an environment where women can flourish and fostering a culture that values the contributions of women.” In 2007, he created the Office for Faculty Development at Dana-Farber, which Dr. Sorensen credited with increasing the number of women leaders at Dana-Farber. Before joining Dana-Farber, Dr. Benz made similar strides at Johns Hopkins.
MD Anderson will bestow the award to Dr. Benz on its main campus in Houston on March 24, at which time he will present a lecture titled “Applying Mentorship, Leadership and Power of Position to Enhancing the Career Development of Women Faculty.”
Georgetown University Medical Center has named Robert Clarke, PhD, DSc, Dean for Research. The new position was called a critical first step in the implementation of the university's strategic planning initiative launched in 2008. His goal is to increase extramural research dollars, a news release noted. Last year he was awarded a $7.7 million grant from the NCI to apply a systems biology approach to study endocrine resistance in breast cancer, and he has developed a series of hormone-resistant breast cancer models widely used in breast cancer research.
Lodovico Balducci, MD, has been appointed Medical Director of Affiliates and Referring Physician Relations at Moffitt Cancer Center. Dr. Balducci is the program leader of Senior Adult Oncology at Moffitt and Professor of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Florida.
The Moffitt Affiliate Network has 14 affiliations with oncology medical practices or health care institutions in Florida, one in Georgia, one in Pennsylvania, and two in Puerto Rico. Through its affiliations, Moffitt seeks to improve the quality of cancer care through the rapid dissemination of new innovations in cancer treatments and research into the community.
Dr. Balducci's research focus is on cancer and the aging, management of the frail elderly, and assessment of quality of life in older cancer patients.
Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, Medical Director of Gastrointestinal Oncology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), is now leading a new, two-arm, randomized Phase II pancreatic cancer clinical trial to study a formulation of the human reovirus that is designed to kill cancer cells.
The trial is expected to enroll about 70 patients, both at Ohio State and at other institutions, and will compare the effects of two courses of treatment: One group of patients will be given carboplatin and pac-litaxel; and the other will receive those two drugs plus Reolysin, an engineered version of the human reovirus developed by Oncolytics Biotech Inc. of Calgary. A news release from OSUCC-James notes that the reovirus works by replicating inside of, and subsequently destroying, cancer cells that have an activated RAS pathway, and appears to kill cancer cells by rupturing their walls.
The study is sponsored by the NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis. Researchers at OSUCCC-James are also conducting clinical trials with Reolysin in lung and ovarian cancers.
Daniel Von Hoff, MD, is now working with Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center to develop its Innovative Clinical Trials Center (ICTC), which will be located within Baylor's new, 467,000 square-foot outpatient cancer center opening in March. Dr. Von Hoff is currently Physician-in-Chief at the Translational Drug Development Institute in Phoenix and also Chief Scientific Officer for both Scottsdale Healthcare and US Oncology.
“The ICTC will be the home of our Phase I clinical trials, which provide patients with the option to participate in clinical research, especially those patients whose cancers have resisted standard treatments,” said Alan M. Miller, MD, PhD, Chief of Oncology for Baylor Health Care System and Medical Director of Baylor Sammons Cancer Center….Dr. Van Hoff will assist Baylor investigators in identifying and bringing promising clinical trials and studies to Baylor, as well as help recruit physician scientists to ICTC.”
Anthony Zietman, MD, has been named Editor of the American Society for Radiation Oncology's International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, known as “The Red Journal,” succeeding James Cox, MD, who announced last year that he would be stepping down after serving three five-year terms. Dr. Zietman is Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School.
“My goal for the journal is to continue the extraordinary work of Dr. Cox but to do it with a different flavowr,” he said in a statement. “I would not envisage any immediate revolutionary changes but I see change as an inevitable evolution. I plan to continue the close liaison with the ASTRO Board of Directors but maintain a healthy independence from it. To me, if the science and safe delivery of radiation therapy is the body of our specialty, then ASTRO and the Red Journal are its right and left arms, independent but clearly linked.”
He noted that he intends to share the editorial responsibility with a global panel of senior editors including one who will work with him on electronic initiatives. His first issue will be January 2012.
Foluso Ademuyiwa, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), has received a $130,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for Women to study the relationship between cancer testis antigens and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is characterized by the absence of estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2.
“Because triple-negative breast cancer lacks these characteristics, these cancer cells lack a druggable target,” Dr. Ademuyiwa explained. The research will focus on the NY-ESO-1 cancer testis antigen, which is associated with other malignancies such as ovarian cancer and melanoma, and with high-grade tumors. A preliminary, small study indicated an association between the antigen and triple-negative breast cancer.
US Oncology has announced that Robert Raju, MD, has brought US Oncology Research to Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. The new program expands the US Oncology Research Translational Oncology Program (TOP) which conducts trials for patients with advanced cancer. The center will also include first-in-human trials.
A $4 million, five-year grant from the NCI will create a Texas regional Community Networks Program Center, called Latinos Contra El Cancer, to reduce cancer-related health disparities among Texas Latinos. The center is a joint project of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“The number of Latino cancer cases is projected to increase dramatically in the next several decades,” noted David Wetter, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Disparities Research at MD Anderson. “The center's efforts are designed to build capacity in the Latino community throughout the state to deliver evidence-based cancer prevention and control policies and interventions.”
Added Maria Fernandez, PhD, Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Public Health: “It's a really exciting opportunity and collaboration because we're building on the strengths of both the UT Health School of Public Health and MD Anderson. We bring our expertise in health promotion, intervention development, and community-based participatory research, where the community participates fully in all aspects of the research process, and the already established regional infrastructure of the School of Public Health.”
MD Anderson brings Mano a Mano, a Mexican-American cohort study, and the expertise in addressing cancer-related risk behaviors—”together, we can do so much more,” she said.
The goal of the project's study is to apply quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate demographic, acculturation and psychological factors and their interaction with the social environment. That information will be used to determine how those factors influence Mexican-Americans' willingness to provide biologic specimens, such as blood samples, for crucial aspects of comprehensive research such as bio-banking.
“We're looking at barriers and how to overcome them,” Dr. Wetter said. “We need to increase minority participation in bio-banking and clinical trials so we can develop interventions and treatments that will work across this particular ethnic group.”
Dr. Wetter and Lovell Jones, PhD, Director of the Center for Research on Minority Health and Professor of Health Disparities Research at MD Anderson, are principal investigators on the research core.
Hope Funds for Cancer Research Awards of Excellence
The Hope Funds for Cancer Research, dedicated to advancing innovative research for the most difficult-to-treat cancers, has announced its 2011 Award of Excellence honorees, who will be recognized at the organization's annual awards gala in June in New York City.
The Award honors those who have made outstanding contributions to basic, clinical, and medical cancer research or conducted prominent advocacy and philanthropy on behalf of cancer research. This year's honorees are:
Joan Massagué, PhD, for Basic Science. Dr. Massagué holds the Alfred P. Sloan Chair in the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and is also Professor at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. His research is in the areas of cell division and cancer metastasis, with a focus on signaling mechanisms that are essential for normal tissue growth and development, but which are altered in many cancers. Most notably, he isolated TGF-b (transforming growth factor beta), a protein involved in immune response and in cell division during embryonic development. By decoding the entire TGF-b signaling pathway, he discovered important principles about how external signals arrest cell proliferation, a process that leads to tumor formation. Building on this work, Dr. Massagué also identified mechanisms that control breast cancer metastasis.
Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, for Clinical Development. Dr. Anderson is the Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of both the LeBow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics and the Jerome Lipper Center for Multiple Myeloma at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For the past 30 years, his laboratory and clinical research has focused on multiple myeloma, including the development of laboratory and animal models of the tumor in its microenvironment, which resulted in the identification of novel targets and the validation of targeted therapies. His team led preclinical and clinical studies of the proteosome inhibitor bortezomib and the immunomodulatory drug lenalidomide, both of which received rapid FDA approval for the treatment of myeloma and are now markedly improving patient outcomes.
Larry Norton, MD, for Medicine. Dr. Norton, MD, is Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs, Medical Director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, and the Norna S. Sarofim Chair in Clinical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. His research applies the biology of cancer and the mathematics of tumor causation and growth to the development of novel approaches for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. His “Norton-Simon Hypothesis” (developed with Dr. Richard Simon) has led to more effective and less toxic cancer therapies, as well as to other major discoveries, including the molecular identification of aberrant genes that predispose people to cancer and the development of drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies. He is currently working with Dr. Joan Massagué on a novel hypothesis linking cancer metastasis with cancer growth.
Ellen Stovall for Advocacy. A three-time survivor of Hodgkin's disease, she has been advocating for more than 30 years to improve cancer care in the United States. She is currently Senior Health Policy Advisor for the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), which conducts evidence-based advocacy for systemic changes at the federal level in how the US researches, regulates, finances, and delivers high-quality cancer care. She is also a member of the Institute of Medicine's National Cancer Policy Forum, which allows government, industry, academic, and survivor advocacy representatives to meet and privately discuss public policy issues that arise in the prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Prior to the establishment of the forum, she was vice-chair of the National Cancer Policy Board's Committee on Cancer Survivorship and co-edited the landmark IOM report From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition.
Donald J. Listwin for Philanthropy. A 25-year veteran executive of the technology industry, Mr. Listwin is the founder and chairman of the Canary Foundation, the nation's only nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to early detection of cancer. He has stated that his motivation has been his family, which has been deeply affected by cancer. His father is a colon cancer survivor, and his mother died from ovarian cancer. Her death prompted him to become involved in finding a cure, including pledging millions of dollars to early detection research at the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Stanford Medical School, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and other institutions.
In 2004, his philanthropic efforts became full time with his launch of the Canary Foundation, which funds teams of leading cancer researchers who are collaborating to translate research on early detection into clinical applications. By delivering the first effective test for early detection, the foundation aims to spur a dramatic increase in NCI and venture capital funding that will allow tests based on this research to reach patients sooner.