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Oncology Times:
doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000441856.87031.2a
Shop Talk

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

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have established the Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine, a collaborative initiative to speed the development of personalized therapies.

“We seek to understand which genetic and other molecular alterations predict how tumors will respond to targeted drugs, why some patients become resistant to drugs, and what that means about the treatments that should be tried next,” the center's new Director, Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber, said in a news release.

LEVI GARRAWAY, MD, PHD
LEVI GARRAWAY, MD, PHD
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The center will be headquartered at Dana-Farber. A key part of the center will be a program to obtain and characterize new biopsies of patients' tumors during their treatment. Scientists will study DNA, RNA, and protein in the biopsy samples to understand better how cancers respond or become resistant to drugs. In addition, some of the specimens will be used to generate cancer cell lines in the laboratory.

Stand Up To Cancer, the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding), and the American Association for Cancer Research, SU2C's scientific partner, have awarded an $8.1 million, four-year Sta Op Tegen Kanker (Stand Up To Cancer) Dream Team Translational Research Grant to the project “Tumor Organoids: A New Preclinical Model for Drug Sensitivity Analysis.” The project will establish a novel, genetically diverse “living biobank” of patients' tumor samples that are maintained and grown in a laboratory using new technology previously developed by members of the team.

Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, Professor at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands and President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, will be team leader, and Johannes Bos, PhD, Head of the Department of Molecular Cancer Research and Chairperson of the Division of Biomedical Genetics of the University Medical Center Utrecht, will be co-leader.

JOHANNES BOS, PHD (left) and HANS CLEVERS, MD, PHD
JOHANNES BOS, PHD (left) and HANS CLEVERS, MD, PHD
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“This process [of developing newer molecularly and genetically targeted therapies] is hampered by a lack of good tools for screening the drug sensitivity of cancers with specific genetic mutations,” Clevers said in a news release. “This Dream Team brings together leaders in a variety of fields of cancer research, and it is our goal to use a recently developed technology that allows tumors to be grown in the laboratory to develop a large ‘living biobank’ for colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. We expect to be able to use this biobank to identify new drugs and drug combinations for evaluation in clinical trials.”

The biobank's “tumor organoids” are growing tumors that allow the researchers to investigate the DNA changes that have occurred in tumors and the consequences of those changes. They also allow the researchers to study the sensitivity and resistance to a large number of anticancer drugs in a laboratory to lay groundwork for more sophisticated trials to test treatment regimens specific to genetic profiles of individual patients and their tumors.

This grant is the 11th SU2C Dream Team grant and the first Sta Op Tegen Kanker Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant and the second Su2C-KWF award (http://bit.ly/OT-SU2C-KWF).

Todd D. Camenisch, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Joyce Schroeder, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, both of the Arizona Cancer Center, have received a National Cancer Institute grant for their research in developing a novel drug for metastatic breast cancer. The award provides Investigational New Drug studies to be performed, which will aid in their application to the FDA for clinical trials.

JOYCE SCHROEDER, PHD
JOYCE SCHROEDER, PHD
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The drug is based on novel protein interactions that occur only in metastatic cancer and not in normal cells. The Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award is shared between their biotechnology company, Arizona Center Therapeutics, LLC., and the Schroeder lab at the University of Arizona. The STTR program is designed to help early-stage biotechnology companies develop promising technology for commercialization and delivery into clinical care.

Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have collectively received $6.7 million in grant funding from federal and other sources:

KELVIN P. LEE, MD
KELVIN P. LEE, MD
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  • Kelvin P. Lee, MD, Chair of the Department of Immunology, received three grants: (1) a four-year, $2.02 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to fund his work to understand how immune responses occur and the molecular pathways involved; (2) a two-year, $377,643 award, also from NIAID, to study new treatments for severe allergic reactions to peanuts (for which Manel Jordana, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, will be a co-investigator); and (3) a five-year, $1.56 NCI grant to study the CD28 receptor in multiple myeloma.
  • Steven C. Pruitt, PhD, Associate Member in the Department of Cellular Biology, received a five-year, $1.62 million NCI grant to study how the process of DNA replication can lead to cancer.
  • Ravindra K. Pandey, PhD, Professor and Distinguished Member of Cell Stress Biology, and colleagues, received a three-year, $668,598 grant from the National Institutes of Health for the NIH STTR Phase I/II study investigating the toxicity of a near infrared photosensitizer. The funds are part of a larger, $1.5 million grant received by Photolitec, LLC (a spinoff company of Roswell Park of which Pandey is founder and Chief Scientific Officer).
  • Joseph Skitzki, MD, FACS, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and Associate Member in the Department of Immunology, received a two-year, $150,000 American Surgical Association Fellowship to study the use of the anti-malaria drug, quinarine, as a potential melanoma treatment.
  • Maryann Mikucki, MD, PhD, a trainee in the lab of Sharon Evans, PhD, in the Department of Immunology, received a three-year, $117,992 pre-doctoral NCI grant, to fund a project on novel mechanisms by which melanoma cells evade T cell-mediated eradication by the immune system.
  • Marina P. Antoch, PhD, Associate Member in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and Andrei V. Gudkov, PhD, DSci, Senior Vice President of Basic Science and Chair of Cell Stress Biology, received a two-year $50,780 NCI grant to study genes that drive primary and metastatic pancreatic cell tumors.
  • Kenneth W. Gross, PhD, Chairman in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, received a two-year, $50,780 grant from the NCI to study genes that drive primary and metastatic pancreatic cell tumors.
  • Eunice Wang, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and Assistant Member of the Tumor Immunology Program, received a two-year, up-to-$50,000 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the NCI to recognize exceptional clinical investigators for their contributions to the advancement of clinical research through collaborative team science. She is one of 11 physicians across the country to receive the award.

The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center has received a grant from the nonprofit Michael's Mission to create the Patient and Family Support Program. The program will help colorectal cancer patients and their caregivers cope with the emotional challenges of living with cancer. An oncology social worker will provide biweekly individual counseling for patients, as well as facilitate a weekly support group for family members and other caregivers.

“We are proud of our commitment to clinical excellence and compassionate care,” Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, Director of the Monahan Center and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell, said in a news release. “This grant will allow us to further enhance our psychosocial support services to help patients and their families as they deal with the physical, social, and emotional challenges of a colorectal cancer diagnosis.”

Peter R. Dottino, MD, has been appointed Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System. He also holds an appointment as Associate Clinical Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

PETER R. DOTTINO, MD
PETER R. DOTTINO, MD
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A specialist in laparoscopy and its application to surgical management of gynecologic cancers, he is also Director of the Group for Women and a Co-Director of the Ovarian Cancer Translational Research Laboratory.

His partners, RudyAlbert Segna, MD, the new Associate Director of Gynecologic Oncology, and Ann Marie Beddoe, MD, the new Director of the Gynecologic Oncology Chemotherapy Infusion Service, will join him as full-time faculty members.

Giuseppe Del Priore, MD, MPH, has been appointed National Director of Gynecologic Oncology for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. He will be based at the CTCA Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan, Ga.

GIUSEPPE DEL PRIORE, MD, MPH
GIUSEPPE DEL PRIORE, MD, MPH
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“It is an honor to have Dr. Del Priore join us at CTCA,” Edgar Staren, MD, PhD, President and CEO of CTCA Medicine & Science, said in a news release. “His knowledge and extensive clinical research background will have a tremendous impact on our ability to help women with advanced and complex gynecologic cancers as well as expand the education about these diseases from a preventative standpoint.” Del Priore was most recently Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Also at CTCA, Jesus Esquivel, MD, has been appointed National Director of HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) Research and Medical Director of International Oncology Initiatives. He will be based at CTCA's Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia.

JESUS ESQUIVEL, MD
JESUS ESQUIVEL, MD
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“We are very excited to have Dr. Esquivel on board,” CTCA Medicine & Science President Staren said in a news release. “Dr. Esquivel has extensive experience in the use of HIPEC as a cancer treatment and that coupled with his research in the expansion of the methodology will have a positive impact on our ability to better serve our patients.”

Marc Ladanyi, MD, FCAP, a pathologist in the Molecular Diagnostics Services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has received the College of American Pathologists Distinguished Patient Care Award for serving as a co-chair of the CAP Pathology & Laboratory Quality Center expert panel that developed the “Molecular Testing Guideline for Selection of Lung Cancer Patients for EGFR and ALK Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors,” which was jointly published in the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, and the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

MARC LADANYI, MD, FCAP
MARC LADANYI, MD, FCAP
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Ladanyi also co-directs the Genome Data Analysis Center at MSKCC, which is part of The Cancer Genome Atlas project network, and is head of the clinical molecular diagnostic laboratories at MSKCC. His research focuses on the genomics and molecular pathogenesis of sarcomas and thoracic malignancies, including lung adenocarcinomas and mesothelioma.

Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare (EMHC) in Illinois has opened a new Center for Cancer Care on its main campus. The new facility offers: an infusion area with both social treatment areas, as well as private treatment bays; a CyberKnife Center for high-dose radiation treatment; and PET/CT imaging.

“We're creating an ideal patient experience and providing our patients with more choices,” Jean Lydon, RN, Associate Vice President of Clinical Operations, said in a news release. “In one centralized location, this new facility will help us better facilitate communication and collaboration because patients can get lab work, see their physicians, and undergo therapy—all in one day.”

EMHC has received a 2012 Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award; a three-year accreditation in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology; and it is fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has entered an agreement with McLaren Health Care that will make Karmanos the largest cancer research and provider network in Michigan and expand access to advanced cancer care in Detroit and communities throughout the state. McLaren will provide a substantial capital investment over a multi-year period to assist with capital upgrades at Karmanos facilities, as well as to fund clinical trials and basic and translational research programs.

Both the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Cancer Center will remain in midtown Detroit, and Karmanos will continue its long-standing relationships with Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center, a news release noted. Karmanos will become a member of the nonprofit McLaren Health Care system. Both Karmanos Cancer Institute and Karmanos Cancer Center, which provides clinical care to patients, will retain their names and remain as separate legal entities, maintaining their assets and reporting to their existing respective boards of directors.

The Weizmann Institute of Science will establish the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine, which will serve Israel's entire life sciences and biomedical research community. The Center is funded thanks to $120 million in private and philanthropic foundation donations, including a $50 million pledge made by Nancy and Stephen Grand of San Francisco.

NANCY AND STEPHEN GRAND
NANCY AND STEPHEN GRAND
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The Center's four units are currently operating in various temporary labs around the Weizmann campus. These units are: The Crown Institute for Genomics, established by the Crown family, Chicago; the de Botton Institute for Protein Profiling, established by Miel de Botton, UK; the Ilana and Pascal Mantoux Institute for Bioinformatics, established by Ilana and Pascal Mantoux, Israel/France; and the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Institute for Drug Discovery, established by the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation. Over the next year, all four will be integrated into the former “Solar Tower” in Rehovet, Israel, which is currently undergoing a major renovation (financed by the Wolfson Foundation, UK).

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