Jonathan L. Finlay, MB, ChB, FRCP, is now Director of Neuro-Oncology at Nationwide Children's Hospital as well as a tenured Professor of Pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine.
He will continue to serve as principal investigator for a series of “Head Start” clinical trial protocols—the first three phases of which have grown to include more than 40 institutions. The randomized clinical trial protocol will now be hosted and coordinated by Nationwide Children's, and it will investigate a tailored radiotherapy-minimizing approach to the treatment of newly diagnosed malignant central nervous system tumors of young children through the use of clinical and molecular risk classifications. Head Start will be one of the first research endeavors to operate within the Nationwide Children's McConnell NEXT Consortium, a collaborative research model for investigator-initiated studies that contribute to the early development of promising new therapies for childhood cancer and blood diseases.
Finlay was most recently Director of the Neural Tumors Program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, and Neurological Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
James R. Downing, MD, has been appointed CEO of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Prior to beginning the new position July 15 he was Deputy Director, Executive Vice President, and Scientific Director of the hospital. He succeeds William E. Evans, PharmD, who stepped down from the position after 10 years and is returning full time to his long-standing pharmacogenomics research program at St. Jude.
“Dr. Downing is an exceptional scientist whose visionary approach to the next era of growth and discovery at St. Jude will mirror the legacy established by Danny Thomas more than 50 years ago,” Terry Burman, Chairman of the St. Jude Board of Governors, said in a news release. “Dr. Downing's seminal contributions to understanding genetic origins of disease, as both the catalyst and leader of the St. Jude Pediatric Cancer Genome Project initiatives, have laid a foundation for a new period of research and treatment of childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”
Downing's research has focused on understanding the genetic basis of cancer and using that information to develop pediatric cancer treatments. He oversaw St. Jude's Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, which produced discoveries for four different types of brain tumors, four subtypes of childhood leukemia, a cancer of the peripheral nervous system, an eye tumor, and Lou Gehrig's disease. The project also produced new computational tools that benefit the broader field of genomic medicine.
Lynda Chin, MD, Chair of the Department of Genomic Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been named the University of Texas System Chancellor's Health Fellow, recognized for developing a patient-centric oncology care delivery system. The system was initiated in late 2012, and as a Fellow, she will coordinate the planning and development of a similar effort in the use of technologies and big data to improve health care delivery, focusing on management of diabetes in South Texas.
“Her work in the area of oncology health care delivery is making a significant impact,” MD Anderson Provost and Executive Vice President Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD, said in a news release. “Certainly, there is a tremendous unmet need in the Rio Grande Valley, and Dr. Chin's spearheading of this effort will help lead to improved access to care.”
She will collaborate with the founding dean of the medical school at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Francisco Fernandez, MD, as well as the university's faculty and administrative leadership for the project. During her one-year appointment as a Chancellor's Health Fellow for the UT System, she will continue her roles as Professor and Chair of the Department of Genomic Medicine and Scientific Director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science at MD Anderson. She will also continue to lead the project to develop a new cancer care delivery prototype.
The following individuals are the recipients of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Conquer Cancer Foundation's 2014 Career Development Awards—research grants that provide funding to clinical investigators who have received their initial faculty appointments to establish an independent clinical cancer research program. Each award is a three-year grant totaling $200,000, paid in three annual increments to the awardee's institution. The recipients are:
- Alexander Drilon, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), for the project “Identification of Mechanisms of Sensitivity and Resistance to RET Fusion-Positive Lung Cancers”;
- Constantine Albany, MD, of Indiana University, for “Hypomethylation Induced Resensitization to Platinum in Refractory Germ Cell Tumors”;
- Erin Macrae, MD, of Ohio State University, for “Targeting Molecular Pathways in Metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer”;
- Jae Park, MD, of MSKCC, for “Evaluating Clinical Efficacy and Molecular Mechanisms of BRAF Inhibition in Hairy Cell Leukemia”;
- Marcia Russell, MD, PhD, of UCLA for “The Impact of Surgical Technique on Quality of Life After Rectal Cancer Surgery: Patient-Reported Outcomes in National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Protocol R-04”;
- Matthew S. Davids, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, for “A Phase 1b/2 Study of IPI-145 in Combination with Fludarabine, Cyclophosphamide, and Rituximab in Previously Untreated, Younger Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia”;
- Rachel N. Grisham, MD, of MSKCC for “A Phase II Study of Enzalutamide for Treatment of Androgen Receptor Positive Ovarian, Primary Peritoneal, or Fallopian Tube Cancer”;
- Rona D. Yaeger, MD, of MSKCC for “Maximizing ERK Inhibition to Treat MAPK-activated Colorectal Cancer”; and
- Simon P. Kim, MD, MPH, of Yale University, for “National Trends in Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer and Barriers to Its Use.”
The following individuals are new officers of the Community Oncology Alliance:
- President: Bruce Gould, MD, President and Medical Director of Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers;
- Vice President: Jeff Vacirca, MD, CEO and Managing Partner of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates;
- Secretary: Michael Diaz, MD, of Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute; and
- Treasurer: Ricky Newton, CPA, Practice Director of Cancer Specialists of Tidewater in Chesapeake, Virginia.
- COA Immediate Past President Mark Thompson, MD, an oncologist at the Zangmeister Center in Columbus, Ohio, will continue to serve as Chairman of the COA Payment Reform Task Force and legislative liaison on congressional matters; and
- Past President David Eagle, MD, an oncologist of Lake Norman Oncology in Charlotte, North Carolina, is now Chairman of the Oncology Medical Home Steering Committee.
The Jon M. Huntsman family and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation have made a $5 million gift to seed the establishment of the Center of Excellence in Women's Cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).
“We understand the importance of striking an appropriate balance between investing in buildings and equipment, and also investing in programs and people at Huntsman Cancer Institute. This gift will support the recruitment of top talent in the cancer field to speed discovery from bench to bedside to benefit mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters,” David Huntsman, President and CEO of the Foundation, said in a news release.
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) have together formed the Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program. The new program will accelerate discovery and implementation of a new immunotherapy approach, which combines the potential of cancer immunotherapy and bone marrow stem cell transplantation.
“By combining these two strategies in attacking cancer, we believe it is possible to optimize the true promise of immunotherapy and extend treatment options to specific patient populations,” JTCC Chairman André Goy, MD, MS, said in a news release. “This approach is only now emerging at a very limited number of cancer centers in the U.S.”
The Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program has broad regional accessibility via physician researchers from Georgetown Lombardi in Washington, the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Network in Maryland and Washington, Regional Cancer Care Associates with offices throughout New Jersey, and JTCC in Hackensack, offering cancer patients living in the northeast corridor between Washington and the New York metropolitan area access to state-of-the-art immunotherapy clinical trials and care.
Michael B. Atkins, MD, Deputy Director of Georgetown Lombardi, and Andrew L. Pecora, MD, President of RCCA, will lead the program.
ASTRO Names Three Gold Medal Recipients
The American Society for Radiation Oncology will award ASTRO Gold Medals to three of the Society's members at the Annual Meeting in September: Mary K. Gospodarowicz, MD, FASTRO; Leonard L. Gunderson, MD, MS, FASTRO; and Nancy J. Tarbell, MD, FASTRO.
The award is ASTRO's highest honor, and is bestowed to members who have made exceptional contributions to the field of radiation oncology, including work in research, clinical care, teaching, and service. Candidates must be nominated by one active member of ASTRO and have letters of support from two additional active members, detailing the nominee's impact on the advancement of radiation oncology.
Gospodarowicz is Medical Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at the University Health Network and Regional Vice-President of Cancer Care Ontario. Her research has focused on radiation therapy for lymphomas and genitourinary cancers, including prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and seminoma, as well as studies of secondary cancers and other late effects of treatment. She and her colleagues pioneered systematic studies of surveillance in place of routine use of abdominal and thoracic radiation for early-stage seminoma, which has helped reduce the risk of these patients developing complications and the risk of secondary cancer.
Her more recent work has focused on global health. In her role as President of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), she created the Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control to determine what it would take to close the gap, and allow equitable access to radiotherapy for cancer globally. She has also mentored trainees and young professionals in the field, helping to develop research masters and doctoral tracks for radiation therapists within the University of Toronto's Department of Radiation Oncology.
Gunderson is Professor Emeritus and a consultant in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Mayo Clinic. His research and clinical work has focused on gastrointestinal cancers and soft tissue sarcomas; and he published a definitive study on the relapse patterns found by second-look surgery in patients treated for rectal cancer in Cancer in 1974, which is still used today to help define radiation therapy field arrangements and protocols for GI cancers. He is also the senior editor or co-editor of three oncology textbooks.
Gunderson has served on several ASTRO committees including the Annual Meeting Scientific Committee, the Bylaws Committee, the Annual Meeting Steering Committee, and the Finance and Audit Committee. He is also a former Chair of ASTRO's Board of Directors (2011–2012), and was on the Board for nine years.
Tarbell is Dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs and the C.C. Wang Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research has examined ways to provide curative treatment programs for children with malignant disease and develop effective strategies to decrease the late effects of treatment.
An active member of the Brain Tumor Committee of the Children's Oncology Group for more than 20 years and principal investigator on medulloblastoma protocols, she is credited with establishing the current standard of care for children with high-risk medulloblastoma. Her recent research has focused on the use of proton beam therapy in pediatric brain tumors and sarcomas, examining the feasibility, effectiveness, and dosimetric and physics aspects of particle radiation therapy.
She was also the founding director of the Office for Women's Careers and the Office of Faculty Development at Massachusetts General Hospital, and introduced programming to support and educate women about paths to promotion, improving negotiating skills and managing work/family balance. She also co-chaired the Women in Academic Medicine Committee at Massachusetts General Hospital, which brought in senior leaders from across the institution to address policy concerns and identify institutional obstacles to women's advancement.
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