Richard L. Schilsky, MD, Chief of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine and Deputy Director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been named to the new position of Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is a former ASCO president and a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
“Rich has that rare combination of clinical expertise, a formidable research track record, and a warmth and humanity that make him perfect for this role,” Sandra M. Swain, MD, ASCO President and Chair of the search committee, said in a news release. “Having led many of ASCO's most important efforts and committees over the years, he is also intimately familiar with ASCO's programs, staff, and member needs.”
In his new role, Schilsky, who will report to ASCO CEO Allen S. Lichter, MD, will provide additional senior leadership and support ASCO's quality programs, public policy, and communications efforts, and fundraising for ASCO's affiliated Conquer Cancer Foundation. He begins the position Feb. 28.
Daniel Von Hoff, MD, Medical Director of Research and Scientific Medical Officer for US Oncology Research and Physician in Chief and Distinguished Professor at Translational Genomics Research Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., has received a lifetime achievement award from US Oncology Research.
Michelle M. Le Beau, PhD, Director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, has become the new President of the Association of American Cancer Institutes. She assumed the role Nov. 1, succeeding William S. Dalton, PhD, MD, the longtime head of Moffitt Cancer Center, who stepped down in August from his roles there as President, Chief Executive, and Center Director to focus on leading Moffitt's new Personalized Medicine Institute.
“As an administrator and researcher, Michelle has a deep understanding of the needs of the talented individuals who work together to build a cancer center. Her expertise and knowledge will be invaluable as AACI continues to focus on persisting challenges faced by cancer centers,” Barbara Duffy Stewart, AACI's Executive Director, said in a news release.
Jonathan Finlay, MD, Director of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles Neural Tumors Program within the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases, has been named the Endowed Chair as Director of the hospital's new Neuro-Oncology Program.
Finlay has pioneered the use of high-dose, marrow-destructive chemotherapy with autologous peripheral blood cell transplantation to improve both the cure rates and minimize the adverse neurocognitive effects of radiation therapy in preschool children with malignant brain tumors. And, he is currently collaborating on the development of gene therapy strategies to combat medulloblastoma with colleagues from City of Hope Cancer Center.
James Allison, PhD, has left Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to join the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as Chair of the Department of Immunology.
“The main reason for coming to MD Anderson is the opportunity offered by a clinical community that's open to using immunological approaches to treat cancer combined with other therapies,” Allison said in a news release. “We can accelerate the transition of new combinations of drugs into the clinic beyond Phase I clinical trials and broaden our focus beyond melanoma and prostate cancer to other types of cancer.”
Georgia Wiesner, MD, MS, has joined Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center as Professor of Medicine and Director of the Clinical and Translational Hereditary Cancer Program. A Past President of the American Board of Medical Genetics, she was previously Associate Professor of Genetics and Medicine and Medical Director of the Genetic Counseling Training Program at Case Western Reserve University and Medical Director of the Cancer Genetics Program.
Minesh Mehta, MBChB, FASTRO, has joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine as Medical Director of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center. He will also treat patients at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenbaum Cancer Center and serve as Associate Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Radiation Oncology. He was most recently at Northwestern University as Professor and Co-Director of the Radiation Oncology Residency Training Program.
Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, received the 19th Annual Herbert and Maxine Block Memorial Lectureship Award for Achievement in Cancer, given by Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. He titled his lecture “An Integrative Framework for ‘Precision’ Cancer Medicine,” which was delivered on Oct. 24 and included $25,000 as part of the award.
Garraway leads an investigative team in cancer genomics at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute (where he is also a senior associate member), and is co-leader of the Cancer Genetics Program at Dana-Farber/Harvard.
Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, presented the third annual American Association for Cancer Research Distinguished Lecture on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, titled “Advancing the Science of Cancer Health Disparities: The Case for Public Trust, Bioethics, Research Literacy and Biospecimen Science.”
Baquet currently serves as Associate Dean for Policy and Planning, Professor of Medicine, and Director of the National Bioethics and Health Disparities Research Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She is also Director of the Maryland Area Health Education Center Program, Director of the Center for Health Policy/Health Services Research, and Director of the Center for Health Disparities.
The National Cancer Institute has awarded the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center a $28.4-million grant to fund research programs and clinical trials operations, and has also renewed its designation as one of 41 Comprehensive Cancer Center programs in the nation. U-M has received NCI funding for its Cancer Center since 1988. The new grant will fund the center through 2017.
A team of UCLA researchers has received a five-year, $5-million grant from the NCI to fund a study that will investigate potential risk profiles of breast cancer survivors likely to suffer from depression. The team will collaborate with Kaiser Permanente on the study, led by principal investigator Michael Irwin, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
Todd Fehniger, MD, PhD, a bone marrow transplant and lymphoma specialist at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University, has been awarded a $200,000 grant by The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He is one of 17 oncologists this year to receive the two-year grant, which recognizes and assists “rising star” physicians and scientists.
Sam Volchenboum, PhD, MD, MS, a pediatric oncologist at Comer's Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago, has received $50,000 from the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation and the family of Anna O'Connor, a former patient of Volchenboum. Before her death this past February, she requested that the funds she had raised for CNCF be directed to Volchenboum's research on neuroblastoma and education.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has completed the second phase of the new Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center by opening the seven-story addition containing labs for computational biology and cell therapy research, among others. Together with the first 23-story building (phase I, which opened in 2006 and has 17 laboratory floors) the $550-million facility center is the first new research complex built since 1989. It was named in recognition of the $100-million gift from MSKCC board member Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
The American Society of Hematology has created the ASH Foundation, to complement the Society's efforts in curing blood diseases. The Foundation will support new programming in the areas of research, career development, and quality care and education, including the following ASH initiatives: the new Bridge Grants, the Society's Scholar Awards, the Clinical Research Training Institute, and the Minority Recruitment Initiative. Because ASH covers all management and administrative costs for programs supported by the Foundation, 100 percent of donations will be allocated toward direct program expenses.
“The progressive decline in research funding over the last several years negatively affects both researchers and clinicians—and ultimately patients—as the development of new and improved therapies is dependent on scientific discoveries that advance our understanding of blood diseases,” ASH President Armand Keating, MD, said in a news release. “The ASH Foundation was created to ensure that there will be a new generation of hematology physicians and scientists to continue to build on the enormous progress that has been made in understanding the etiology of some of the most deadly blood diseases, and to develop new strategies for their prevention and treatment.”
The Society of Surgical Oncology has changed to a self-management model, and at the same time, moved to a new headquarters, in Rosemont, Illinois.
Correction: In the Nov. 25 issue, an incorrect photo was included with the item about David Smith, PhD, of Emory University, who is collaborating with Brian Haab, PhD, and other researchers on a five-year, NCI-funded, $2.3 million project to develop new molecular biomarkers for pancreatic cancer.
John Durant, ASCO's First EVP and Founding Director of UAB Cancer Center, Dies at Age 82
John R. Durant, MD, a former President (1985–1986) and the first Executive Vice President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, died in his home in Birmingham, Alabama, on Oct. 28.
He became ASCO EVP in 1995 and helped the organization transition from contract management to handling its own administrative activities. He recruited senior staff, established the current headquarters in Alexandria, Va., helped increase membership by nearly 50 percent, and doubled the organization's revenues during that time.
“Dr. Durant has left an indelible mark on the Society,” Allen S. Lichter, MD, ASCO's CEO, said in a statement. “Everything we do today in ASCO is built on the foundation that he established, and each of us who enjoyed the privilege of working with him will remember the passion he showed for his work, the patients he served, his family, and our organization. We will never forget the impact he had on ASCO, and will truly miss him.”
In addition to his work with ASCO, Durant served as Founding Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center for 14 years, where he played critical roles advancing translational and clinical research, and helped establish the center as one of the first eight institutions to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Act of 1971.
He left UAB for five years to become President and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center from 1983 to 1988, and then returned to UAB as Vice President of Health Affairs and Director of the Medical Center, serving from 1988 until 1995.
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