Oncology Times:
doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000451751.58443.9a
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The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected its 2014 class of new members who will be inducted at a ceremony on October 11, at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Members of the oncology community in the new class include:

  • Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan;
  • Carl H. June, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine;
  • Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, of Duke University School of Medicine;
  • Shriv Grewal, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health;
  • Charles L. Sawyers, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center;
  • Donald L. Court, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute;
  • Donald F. Hunt, PhD, of the University of Virginia;
  • Dinshaw Patel, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center;
  • Nikola P. Pavletich, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center;
  • David G. Schatz, PhD, of Yale University School of Medicine;
  • M. Celeste Simon, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine;
  • Geoffrey Myles Wahl, PhD, of Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and
  • Daniel Louvard, PhD, of Institut Curie (foreign honorary member).

The Lustgarten Foundation has named three scientists to receive research funding as part of its new Distinguished Scholars program, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding achievements in pancreatic cancer research. The grantees, selected by the Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board, will each receive $5 million in research funding over the next five years; and each grantee will serve as principal investigator of his own project. Continuation of annual funding is contingent upon achieving predefined research milestones and approval of scientific progress reports.

The 2014 Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholars are:

  • Ronald M. Evans, PhD, March of Dimes Chair in Developmental and Molecular Biology, Professor, and Director of the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who is expanding his most recent research on the use of vitamin D in the treatment of pancreatic cancer in laboratory studies into clinical trials in patients with pancreatic cancer;
RONALD M. EVANS, PHD
RONALD M. EVANS, PHD
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  • Douglas Fearon, PhD, set to begin a new joint position at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Weill Cornell Medical College after serving as a Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology in the Department of Medicine at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, who will apply knowledge from previous research in rheumatoid arthritis to cancer—he recently discovered a new drug that harnesses the immune system to break down the protective stromal barrier surrounding pancreatic cancer tumors and enables T cells to penetrate it, and plans to conduct clinical trials to test the new drug combination in pancreatic cancer patients; and
DOUGLAS FEARON, PHD
DOUGLAS FEARON, PHD
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  • Bert Vogelstein, MD, Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology and Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who will continue his current work that led to the development of an early detection blood test for pancreatic cancer, which will now be tested in clinical trials with patients.
BERT VOGELSTEIN, MD
BERT VOGELSTEIN, MD
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Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Cell Engineering & Gene Expression Laboratory and Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Renier Brentjens, MD, PhD, Director of Cellular Therapeutics at MSKCC, have together received the Inventor of the Year Award from the New York Intellectual Property Law Association. The award recognizes the contribution that an invention has or will make to society. Sadelain and Brentjens were recognized for their work designing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), which are being developed as part of a new immunotherapy treatment for certain types of leukemia and other cancers.

MICHEL SADELAIN, MD, PHD
MICHEL SADELAIN, MD, PHD
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RENIER BRENTJENS, MD, PHD
RENIER BRENTJENS, MD, PHD
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Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Lebow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics and Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, received the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) David T. Workman Memorial Award at the Foundation's annual scientific symposium at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City in May.

KENNETH C. ANDERSON, MD
KENNETH C. ANDERSON, MD
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The award is a biennial recognition for scientists who develop novel therapies for poorly treatable cancer types. He was recognized for his role in research that resulted in the clinical development of more effective non-cytotoxic treatments for multiple myeloma.

Anderson, who has focused his laboratory and clinical research studies on multiple myeloma for the past three decades, is also a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Research Scientist and an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor.

Also at the SWCRF's scientific symposium, Musa Mayer, MS, received the Foundation's Distinguished Service Award, which acknowledges longstanding dedication to championing awareness for quality care for people living with cancer. Mayer, a 25-year survivor of breast cancer who has authored three books about breast cancer, was recognized for her work as a vocal proponent of both quality patient care and research.

MUSA MAYER, MS
MUSA MAYER, MS
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She is a founding member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, a collaboration of more than 20 support, research, and advocacy organizations and industry partners. She serves on steering and data monitoring committees for many clinical trials and patient registries, and has worked for many years as a patient representative with the FDA, as well as on a Department of Defense-funded Center of Excellence studying brain metastasis. Musa's web resource for metastatic breast cancer can be found at AdvancedBC.org.

David Craig, PharmD, BCPS, a clinical pharmacist at Moffitt Cancer Center, has been appointed to the Food and Drug Administration's Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee. The 13-member Committee reviews and evaluates the safety and effectiveness of products used for anesthesiology as well as for the treatment of pain after surgery.

DAVID CRAIG, PHARMD, BCPS
DAVID CRAIG, PHARMD, BCPS
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Craig, who has been at Moffitt for more than 10 years, specializes in pain medicine and palliative care. He is also a member of the American Pain Society, and has served on the Board of Directors of that Society for three years, recently completing a two-year term as Secretary.

He has also completed the Mayday Pain and Society Fellowship, which trains physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, scientists, and legal scholars in the pain management community to more effectively communicate their work and raise awareness of and improve the treatment of acute and chronic pain. His appointment to the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee will run through 2018.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center has opened the Irving Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, a new facility for comprehensive bone marrow transplant care. The new unit includes 18 inpatient rooms, a nurses' station for individual patient monitoring, and a specialized airflow system to help protect patients with weakened immune systems. Markus Mapara, MD, PhD, Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Professor of Medicine at CUMC, will lead the new unit.

MARKUS MAPARA, MD, PHD
MARKUS MAPARA, MD, PHD
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Mapara's research focuses on developing new approaches for patients undergoing autologous and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation by preventing and/or reducing treatment-related complications such as graft-versus-host disease, as well as preventing recurrence of the underlying disease.

The unit is supported by a $20 million gift from Herbert and Florence Irving, who have donated some $200 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has launched a new genomic-analysis-based research program, the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology. David Solit, MD, is the inaugural Director; and Michael Berger, PhD, and Agnès Viale, PhD, are Associate Directors.

(Left to right) MICHAEL BERGER, PHD, AGNÈS VIALE, PHD, and DAVID SOLIT, MD
(Left to right) MICHAEL BERGER, PHD, AGNÈS VIALE, PHD, and DAVID SOLIT, MD
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“We have learned that cancer is actually a disease of the genome, and moving forward, we will need to integrate the vast amounts of molecular discoveries being made with clinical data to develop tumor-specific treatments. The CMO will be the first program in the country to span the full range of activities required to bridge these molecular insights into clinical innovations,” José Baselga, MD, MSKCC Physician-in-Chief, said in a news release.

A cornerstone of the CMO, which is funded by a $100 million gift from the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation will be to enroll patients in Phase I clinical trials called basket studies, in which therapies are offered to patients whose tumors test positive for certain mutations regardless of cancer type. The CMO will also focus on retrospectively analyzing tumors of exceptional responders, patients who have a sustained response to treatment in a clinical trial in which almost all other participants do not. The CMO will work closely with MSKCC's Center for Mechanism-Based Therapies to bring new findings into the clinic.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided a three-year, $5.5 million grant to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville to support new research there under the direction of Donald Miller, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center.

DONALD MILLER, MD, PHD
DONALD MILLER, MD, PHD
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“The work of Dr. Miller and his team has the potential to significantly impact health around the world,” John Codey, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said in a news release. “They are focusing on finding much less expensive methods for delivering vaccines and medications so that these treatments are accessible to even the poorest of countries. We are pleased to continue to support efforts that have the potential to relieve suffering for a significant segment of people around the world.”

The grant will help fund moving new vaccines for cervical and colon cancers into clinical trials; and new research to further develop plant-based drug delivery systems to allow for higher concentrations of anticancer drugs to be transported directly to human tumors, as well as to increase a tumor's sensitivity to anticancer treatment.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will adopt a tobacco-free hiring policy beginning January 1. Under the new policy, all new MD Anderson applicants will be screened for tobacco use, along with standard drug screening, as part of the application process. Those seeking employment at MD Anderson who test positive will not be eligible for immediate employment—but if the applicant remains interested in working at MD Anderson, he or she will be offered tobacco-cessation materials and instructions for obtaining assistance. Applicants will be permitted to apply for open positions and undergo a new screening test after a waiting period of 180 days.

“As an institution with the mission of ending cancer, we felt those who wish to work at MD Anderson must be willing to make a personal commitment to help reduce cancer rates,” Shibu Varghese, Vice President of Human Resources, said in a news release. “Because secondhand smoke also has been linked to cancer, it's also a commitment on behalf of our employees to the entire community.”

The new policy will affect all potential executives, faculty, and staff interested in joining the cancer center, but not those employed by MD Anderson prior to 2015.

The policy is part of EndTobacco, a science-based program based on best practices for tobacco control recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

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