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SHOP TALK: Appointments, Promotions, Honors, Grants, & Other ‘People News’

doi: 10.1097/
Shop Talk

Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD, has been named Executive Vice President and Deputy Director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, after having served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Clinical Research Division there for the past 20 years.

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“Fred's experience, together with his vast knowledge of science and the history of the Hutch, will be invaluable in developing the community relationships and programs that we and our clinical partner, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, need for continued growth and impact,” Lawrence Corey, MD, President and Director of Fred Hutch, said in a news release.

Appelbaum will continue to conduct his research, which focuses on the biology and treatment of leukemias, lymphomas, and other blood cancers. He will also continue to serve as President of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, but will step down as Director of the Fred Hutch Clinical Research Division and University of Washington Division of Medical Oncology. He has served in both of those roles since 1998. Plans for a transition are currently being finalized.

Two members of the oncology community were honored by White House officials as “Champions of Change” for prevention and public health—which recognizes efforts to inspire healthy change by encouraging preventive screenings, reducing health disparities, promoting physical activity and healthy eating, and fighting health care acquired infections. The recent honorees for oncology are:

* Myriam Escobar, a Community Outreach Worker at Moffitt Cancer Center, who runs the “Yo me cuido” (I take care of myself) program there that teaches and motivates Hispanic women to take care of themselves through early detection and living a healthy lifestyle based on breast cancer prevention (which has served more than 2,000 women to date); and

* Elmer Huerta, MD, Director of the Cancer Preventorium at MedStar Washington Hospital Center's Washington Cancer Institute, who founded the Preventorium there in 1994 to promote disease prevention and early detection to the public using the media. Huerta, a former President of the American Cancer Society, has authored “La Salud Hecho Fácil” for the Spanish-speaking community; he hosts regular Spanish-language radio and television programs, which are nationally syndicated; and he is a medical contributor for CNN en Español.

Edith A. Perez, MD, Deputy Director at Large of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, and Gordon B. Mills, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Systems Biology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, respectively, have been named recipients of the Susan G. Komen Brinker Awards for Scientific Distinction in Clinical Research and Basic Science, the highest awards of merit given by the organization.

Perez is receiving the Clinical Research Award for her contributions to the field of breast cancer treatment—in both improving patient care and expanding the understanding of breast cancer biology. She has led a wide range of translational clinical trials testing new therapeutic agents for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.

Mills is receiving the Basic Science Award for his significant contributions to breast cancer research, which have advanced the understanding of the key processes that drive breast cancer's initiation, progression, and response to therapy. His work follows a cancer systems biology approach to understand the impact of genomic aberrations on complex signaling networks at the proteomic level with the goal of individualizing cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Both researchers will be honored at this year's San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, where they will deliver keynote lectures on Dec. 11.

LUNGevity Foundation has awarded $400,000 in new lung cancer research funds to two researchers through its Lung Cancer Early Detection research program to help ensure continued progress against the disease. Specifically these awards support research projects directed at new approaches to improve clinical methods for the detection of primary tumors. These most recent two grants bring LUNGevity grant-funding to the milestone of 100 grants awarded in 23 states since 2002. The new recipients are:

* Feng Jiang, MD, PhD, of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, for his project, “Sputum biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer;” and

* Ignacio Wistuba, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, for his project, “Identification of biomarkers for the detection of SCLC.”

William E. Evans, PharmD, Director and CEO of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has announced that he will retire in July. He has been at St. Jude for more than 40 years, and has been CEO for the past 10.

“Under Dr. Evans' leadership, we have achieved the best outcomes worldwide for the most frequent forms of childhood cancer, launched an $85 million effort to identify the genomic drivers of the most aggressive childhood cancers, and expanded our facilities by more than 500,000 square feet,” Terry Burman, Chairman of the St. Jude Board of Governors, said in a news release. “His significant contributions have made an indelible mark on our history, resulting not only in improved survival for children with cancer, but in better long-term quality of life.”

The St. Jude Board of Governors will conduct an international search to select Evans' successor, and the process will include potential internal and external candidates. And although Evans is expected to leave the CEO position next summer, he has agreed to serve until his successor has been chosen.

James Edward Montie, MD, the Valassis Professor of Urology and Senior Urologist of the University of Michigan Health Systems, and Fran Mott, Chapter Leader of the VHL Alliance, have been recognized by the organization for making a lasting impact on patient support and cancer treatment.

Montie is recognized for committing his career to the treatment of patients with VHL and kidney cancer. He was Senior Urologist at the University of Michigan VHL Clinical Care Center and on the Executive Committee of the Urological Surgery Quality Collaborative. He is also a Former Chair of the Department of Urology at the University of Michigan.

Mott has been chapter leader of the VHLA's Michigan Chapter for nearly two decades, and is being recognized for being a “selfless and tireless champion” for patients with VHL and their families—offering support and guidance. A VHL survivor herself, she has also increased awareness of VHL through writing and speaking about the cancer.

Leonidas Platanias, MD, PhD, Deputy Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, has received the 2013 Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research.

Platanias, who also serves as the Jesse, Sara, Andrew, Abigail, Benjamin, and Elizabeth Lurie Professor of Oncology and Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has focused his research efforts on the field of signal transduction in cancer for more than 20 years, studying the mechanisms of signaling for cytokines and other ligands in malignant cells. Recently he has performed work on the mechanisms of interferon signaling in malignancies and of arsenic trioxide signaling in leukemia. His laboratory has also defined kinase elements as targets for the development of innovative therapeutic approaches in myeloid leukemias.

Two surgical oncologists of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have joined the staff at Sloan-Kettering's outpatient treatment center in Commack, N.Y. Patients will be able to see the physicians in Manhattan, or in Commack for chemotherapy, radiation, follow-up care, and support services. The two physicians are:

* Melissa Pilewskie, MD, joins as a breast surgeon. Her current research focuses on the development and implementation of standardized care plans for women at high risk for breast cancer through MSKCC's Special Surveillance Breast Program—the goal of which is to have personalized screening protocols for specific high-risk groups, including women with a BRCA gene mutation, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a personal history of a high-risk breast lesion. She has been with MSKCC since last year.

* Raul Parra, MD, joins as a genitourinary surgeon with an interest in minimally invasive robotic surgery to treat cancers of the genitourinary system. He helped develop such surgeries for urologic cancers and performed the first-ever laparoscopic removal of bladder cancer. Parra offers one of the few dedicated active surveillance clinics in the country, where men with prostate cancer can be followed, counseled, and treated if necessary by a multidisciplinary team of specialized physicians.

Two oncologists have joined the Cleveland Clinic:

* Navneet Majhail, MD, MS, as Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program. He was previously Medical Director of Health Services Research at the National Marrow Donor Program and an adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine with the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on health services and health policy issues in blood and marrow transplantation, as well as quality of life and late effects in transplant survivors. He also serves as Assistant Scientific Director with the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.

* Jame Abraham, MD, FACP, as Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute. Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic, Abraham was the first Bonnie Wells Wilson Distinguished Professor and Eminent Scholar in breast cancer research and section chief of Hematology/Oncology at West Virginia University. He is also National Study Chair of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project FB-9 clinical trial studying the role of eribulin in early-stage breast cancer.

George Washington University Cancer Institute has been awarded a $2.1 million collaborative agreement over the next five years to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to design and implement a comprehensive technical assistance plan to support CDC-funded Comprehensive Cancer Control programs across the country.

“Working with the CDC, we will prioritize training needs and support implementation of proven strategies to reduce the burden of cancer in this country,” Mandi Pratt-Chapman, MA, Associate Director of GWCI and the principal investigator for the award, said in a news release. “We are also pleased to be working with the National Area Health Education Center and their local affiliates to broadly integrate cancer prevention with other chronic disease prevention activities.”

Yale Cancer Center's designation as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center has been extended for an additional five years. The award includes $12.2 million in funding over the next five years to support the Center's seven research programs and eight shared resources, along with the continuation of the Center's comprehensive status.

Jean-Charles Soria, MD, PhD, has been named Editor-in-Chief of the European Society for Medical Oncology's Annals of Oncology. He will begin the role in January.

A medical oncologist with expertise in lung cancer, he was recently appointed Chair of the new Drug Development Department at Gustave Roussy Cancer Center in Paris. He has been Professor of Oncology at South Paris University since 2006, and heads a group of eight researchers at INSERM.

“Precision medicine is transforming cancer therapy, forcing us to rethink both how we manage the disease and how we teach our discipline. It's an exciting time to work in and to report on,” Soria said in a news release. “With Annals we will solicit articles on cutting-edge topics such as targets in oncology and novel immunomodulatory agents, reflecting the new molecular/genetic paradigm in oncology.”

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New Pancreatic Cancer Research Initiative at OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University has launched a clinical and translational science initiative against lethal pancreatic cancers and other pancreatic diseases.

“Multidisciplinary collaborative science is the new model for academic medical research, and this initiative clearly shows just how important philanthropists will be in driving those kinds of projects in the future,” OHSU President Joe Robertson, MD, MBA, said in a news release.

Brett C. Sheppard, MD, the William E. Colson Chair for Pancreatic Disease Research and Vice Chair of Surgery at OHSU, will facilitate linking the clinical aspects, surgical care, and research programs of the initiative with the laboratories of three Knight Cancer Institute researchers:

* Lisa M. Coussens, PhD, the Hildegard Lamfrom Chair in Basic Science, Chair of OHSU's Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Associate Director for Basic Research for the Knight Cancer Institute;

* Joe W. Gray, PhD, the Gordon Moore Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Associate Director for translational research in the Knight Cancer Institute, and the Director of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine; and

* Rosalie C. Sears, PhD, Professor in OHSU's Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics and the Cancer Biology Program Leader at the Knight Cancer Institute.

The new initiative is funded by a $25 million philanthropic pledge made by a partnership between Norma and Linda Brenden and the Colson Family Foundation over five years.

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New Radiation Oncology Center at Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center has opened a 12,500-square-foot Irving Radiation Oncology Center, which is part of the medical center's Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“This new technology offers greater customization and allows for a dramatically reduced treatment course, from weeks to days,” K.S. Clifford Chao, MD, Radiation Oncologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and the Chu H. Chang Distinguished Professor and Chair of radiation oncology at Columbia University Medical Center, said in a news release.

The new center is funded in part with the support of the hospital's life trustee Herbert Irving, for whom the Cancer Center is named, and his wife, Florence. Mr. and Mrs. Irving have given more than $200 million to New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center in support of cancer care and research.

In addition to the gift for the radiation oncology center, the Irvings recently pledged $60 million to New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center to support research, operations, and recruitment—including the recruitment of five clinician-scientists in leukemia and blood-related cancers—as well as construction of the 9,400-square-foot Irving Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, scheduled to open next year.

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© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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