The National Cancer Institute has awarded an $11.3 million, five-year Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant renewal to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for its continued leadership of a multi-center prostate cancer research consortium. The Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE (first funded in 2002) aims to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the development and progression of prostate cancer and to develop new therapeutic strategies using precision-medicine approaches to improve survival and reduce treatment-related side effects.
The principal investigator of the consortium since 2007 has been Peter S. Nelson, MD, a member of the Human Biology Division. The co-principal investigator since the consortium's establishment has been Janet L. Stanford, PhD, a member of the Health Sciences Division. The consortium represents a coordinated effort between Fred Hutch; the University of Washington; the University of British Columbia and its affiliate, the Prostate Centre of Vancouver General Hospital; and Oregon Health & Science University.
“Our integrated, bench-to-bedside approach involves basic, clinical, and population sciences research teams that are devoted to exploring a fundamental understanding of cancer biology, including molecular genetics and genomics,” Nelson said in a news release.
The National Cancer Institute has also awarded an $8.8 million, five-year SPORE grant to Moffitt Cancer Center, which will be overseen by Jeffrey S. Weber, MD, PhD, Director of the Donald A. Adam Comprehensive Melanoma Research Center of Excellence there. This new SPORE grant will fund three melanoma research projects aimed at improving melanoma treatment and outcomes: potentiating the effects of targeted and cytotoxic agents on cell-based immunotherapy in melanoma; abrogation of therapeutic escape pathways in BRAF-mutant melanoma; and augmenting the immunogenicity of melanoma through manipulation of histone deacetylases.
Mark Kelley, PhD, the Betty and Earl Herr Professor of Pediatric Oncology Research and Associate Director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, with colleagues Sandeep Batra, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, and Angelo Cardoso, MD, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, all of Indiana University School of Medicine, have received a $250,000 Hyundai Hope Grant for pediatric cancer research. Their research seeks a new therapeutic strategy to treat T-cell leukemia, namely for children with relapsed acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Steven D. Gore, MD, has been named Director of Hematologic Malignancies at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.
“Dr. Gore's national leadership on clinical trials for patients with leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes and focus on translational research will elevate our Hematology Program,” Madhav V. Dhodapkar, MBBS, Chief of Hematology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, said in a news release.
Until his appointment at Yale, Gore served as Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a faculty member in the Cell and Molecular Medicine Program there. He is a member of the Leukemia Core Committee and the Leukemia Correlative Science Committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, and chairs the Hematologic Malignancies Committee of the Mayo Phase II Consortium.
Larry Kun, MD, has been named Clinical Director and Executive Vice President of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He will continue in his current position as Chair of the Department of Radiological Sciences.
“Along with outstanding clinical skills, Dr. Kun has proven his ability to organize and lead complex, multi-institutional collaborations, such as the national Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium,” William E. Evans, PharmD, St. Jude Director and CEO, said in a news release.
A founding member of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, Kun has been at St. Jude since 1984. Until recently he was Chair of the NCI's Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and has held leadership positions in the Pediatric Oncology Group, Children's Oncology Group, American Society for Radiation Oncology, Society for Neuro-Oncology, and American Board of Radiology. He succeeds Joseph Laver, MD, who has accepted a position at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York.
Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, has been appointed Director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she has served as Director of Research since 2007 and Acting Director since 2012.
“Dr. Schnoll-Sussman embodies Weill Cornell's mission to make leading-edge science clinically meaningful to patients who need it most,” Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, said in a news release. “Her special attentiveness to patients at high risk of GI cancers, and commitment to rigorous scientific research to determine the best way to detect their diseases while they are still treatable or delay their development, will guarantee the continued, positive impact of the Jay Monahan Center on our patients.”
Schnoll-Sussman is a former president of the New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and is co-director of the New York City Colon Cancer Control Coalition. Her research has focused on esophageal disorders.
The University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has made the following clinical research appointments: E. Claire Dees, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, as Medical Director of the Clinical Protocol Office; and Peter Voorhees, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, as Chair of the Protocol Review Committee.
The Clinical Protocol Office provides centralized management and oversight of clinical trials including protocol registration, regulatory affairs, patient management, and compliance committee work. The Protocol Review Committee is a multidisciplinary standing committee charged with the peer review of local and national research protocols involving cancer patients or a focus on cancer to ensure the scientific quality and patient safety of proposed studies.
Dees, who has been part of the UNC faculty since 1999, currently co-leads the UNC Lineberger Clinical Research Program and leads the Early Phase Clinical Research Unit. Voorhees, a faculty member since 2004, directs the UNC Myeloma Program and has previously served as co-chair of the Protocol Review Committee.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has received a $48.6 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute and an “exceptional” ranking (the highest possible), from the NCI's extensive peer-review process. Renewal of MD Anderson's NCI Cancer Center Support Grant extends the institution's status as a comprehensive cancer center, upheld since its designation as one of the first three such centers in 1971.
The grant ($9.7 million annually) supports 19 research programs and 16 shared resources that serve the entire institution, supporting research programs that range from basic science to clinical trials of new therapies.
Programs funded by the grant include:
- Four in basic science, focused on cancer metastasis, cancer genetics and epigenetics, cell biology, and immunology;
- Nine disease site programs that cover all major cancers;
- Three thematic clinical/translational programs that address targeted therapy, radiation oncology physics and biology, and stem cell transplantation and cell therapy; and
- Three population-based research programs in clinical cancer prevention, epidemiology and behavioral, and health disparities research.
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ASTRO Awards and New Officers
Jean B. Owen, PhD, has been named the 2013 Honorary Member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology—the highest honor the Society bestows on a distinguished cancer researcher, scientist, or leader outside of the field of radiation oncology. Owen was inducted at the Society's Annual Meeting in September.
“Dr. Owen's extensive work in establishing and analyzing benchmarks for optimal care in radiation oncology has been instrumental to the high quality of care our specialty provides cancer patients,” Michael L. Steinberg, MD, FASTRO, Chairman of ASTRO's Board of Directors, said in a news release. “Her continuous collaboration with physician investigators, including many ASTRO members, is a testament to her commitment to ASTRO, to radiation oncology and, most importantly, to our patients.”
Owen has served 23 years at the American College of Radiology Clinical Research Center—11 years as senior director (2001-2012) and 12 years as director (1989-2001). She was project director of the Quality Research in Radiation Oncology project, formerly the Patterns of Care Study, and is currently a health care consultant and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Research Ethics at Medical College of Wisconsin's Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Milwaukee.
Sherri Graves Smith, has received ASTRO's 2013 Survivor Circle Award, which recognizes a cancer survivor who lives in the ASTRO Annual Meeting host city who has dedicated his or her time and energy in service and support of the local community. Smith, an Atlanta resident, was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in 2007 at age 36, which has since been diagnosed as a chronic condition.
Wanting to help cancer patients receiving treatment who faced bankruptcy and home foreclosures, Smith coordinated with the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation (ACCF) and The Coca-Cola Company (where she worked as a corporate attorney until she had to resign to focus on her cancer treatment) to host a biennial benefit to raise funds for ACCF. To date, the effort has raised nearly $390,000.
“ASTRO is privileged to present Ms. Smith with the 2013 Survivor Circle Award,” Colleen A.F. Lawton, MD, FASTRO, President of ASTRO, said in a news release. “It is truly inspiring that she has transformed her cancer diagnosis into such extraordinary service and support of cancer patients in the Atlanta area, especially while still undergoing treatment herself.”
ASTRO has also elected four new officers to serve on its Board of Directors for a one-year term, which began at the Annual Meeting:
- Bruce D. Minsky, MD, Deputy Division Head and Professor of the Division of Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was elected President-elect. He is an active clinician and clinical research investigator on MD Anderson's gastrointestinal cancer multidisciplinary team. He has served on ASTRO's Board of Directors (2003 to 2006) as chairman of the Education Council; a member of the Ethics Committee, the Gold Medal Awards Committee, and the Quality Steering Committee; and a member of the Editor Selection Task Force.
- Jeff M. Michalski, MD, MBA, FASTRO, the Carlos Perez Distinguished Professor and Vice-chairman of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine, has been elected Secretary/Treasurer-elect. He is also Medical Director of Siteman Cancer Center's Clinical Trials Core. He has served as a member of several ASTRO panels and committees and as Co-chairman of the Best Practices Subcommittee. He is Vice-Chairman of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, leads the RTOG's Advanced Technology Integration Committee, and is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's bladder cancer panel.
- Thomas J. Eichler, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital, CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Va., has been elected Health Policy Council Vice-chairman. He is a founding member of Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital's Oncology Executive Committee and was Chairman of the hospital's Multidisciplinary Cancer Committee. He has also held leadership positions at Bassett Healthcare, Louis Busch Hager Cancer Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., and at Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, Va, and is State Captain for Virginia in ASTRO's grassroots state captain initiative that assists in federal and state advocacy efforts.
- Theodore L. DeWeese, MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has been elected Science Council Vice-chairman. At Johns Hopkins, he is also Vice-Chairman of the Medical Board and Chairman of the Administrative Committee. He has served as Immediate Past Chairman and Chairman of ASTRO's Annual Meeting Scientific Committee, and Associate Chairman of the Scientific Program Subcommittee.
ASTRO has selected the Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia and the South Georgia Medical Center, Pearlman Cancer Center, to each receive the Society's 2013 Survivor Circle grant, an $8,000 prize that recognizes each organization's efforts and provides direct support for their work to support cancer patients.
The mission of the nonprofit Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia is to help alleviate financial burdens facing cancer patients by providing emergency monetary assistance to eligible patients in its 18-county service area. The organization has to date provided some $300,000 in financial assistance to nearly 800 cancer patients for basic life needs.
The South Georgia Medical Center, Pearlman Cancer Center, which serves nearly 250,000 people in 17 counties, plans to use the grant to launch a dental health support program to help head and neck and other cancer patients who need dental care. The program plans to provide up to $500 per patient for dental services, particularly in preparation for beginning cancer treatment.© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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