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SHOP TALK

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000293403.92434.08
Department: SHOP TALK
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Napoleone Ferrara, MD, Fellow in the Department of Molecular Oncology at Genentech, received this year's General Motors Cancer Research Award, which included a $250,000 prize and a gold medallion. While three separate annual prizes in cancer research had been awarded by GM since the program's inception in 1978, beginning this year, only a single prize will be awarded.

The work of Dr. Ferrara and his colleagues led to the development of bevacizumab. They identified and cloned a gene for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and showed that an antibody targeted against it could suppress angiogenesis and tumor growth in preclinical models.

“It is exceptionally rare for a scientist to define a basic element of cancer cell growth, develop a therapy to combat this growth, and then witness the successful application of this treatment in patients with cancer,” said Samuel A. Wells Jr., MD, President of the GM Cancer Research Award Program. “To have a basic laboratory or clinical science discovery translated into a successful cancer therapy is the goal of everyone in basic cancer research.”

Dr. Ferrara's research also resulted in the clinical development of an anti-VEGF antibody fragment, ranibizumab (Lucentis), as a potential treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. He is currently investigating how VEGF could be used to treat other types of cancer, ocular disease, and disorders of tissue growth and repair.

Xiaodong Wang, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, was chosen as the recipient of the $1 million Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for his discovery of the biochemical basis of apoptosis. The Shaw Prize, administered by the Hong Kong-based Shaw Prize Foundation, currently consists of three annual awards: the Prize in Astronomy, the Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and the Prize in Mathematical Sciences. First granted in 2004, the award is sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize of the East.”

The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's Gold Medal Winners are Richard Hoppe, MD, Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology and the Henry S. Kaplan-Harry Lebeson Professor of Cancer Biology at Stanford University; and C. Clifton Ling, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Medical Physics and Head of the Radiation Biophysics Laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Drs. Hoppe and Ling will receive the awards at ASTRO's 48th Annual Meeting in November.

Dr. Hoppe, a member of OT's Editorial Board, has dedicated much of his career to training the next generation of physician-scientists in radiation oncology and has been a strong proponent for translational research in physics and radiobiology. Under Dr. Hoppe's leadership, Stanford was one of the first institutions in the country to incorporate intensity-modulated radiation therapy into clinical protocols.

Dr. Ling is recognized as an authority in developing and implementing advanced treatment planning and delivery systems and as a pioneer in the evolution of image-based radiotherapy. He has played a significant role in the establishment of conformal radiotherapy as a curative treatment for cancer.

Allen S. Lichter, MD, Dean of the Medical School at the University of Michigan and a former President of ASCO, has been named the Society's new EVP/CEO. He will start in the new position at the end of October.

“It is an understatement to say that ASCO's Board of Directors is thrilled to have Dr. Lichter join ASCO in this capacity,” ASCO's current President, Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, said in a statement.

“When we began our search nearly a year ago, we couldn't have imagined a more ideally suited candidate for the position. Dr. Lichter is one of the most well-regarded oncologists in the world. He has served ASCO in numerous capacities over the years, and his personal commitment and dedication to the mission of the organization speaks for itself.”

Dr. Lichter said the position represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dovetail his personal, lifelong goals of improving the care and treatment of patients with that of an organization dedicated to the same mission.

He replaces Charles M. Balch, MD, who returned to oncology practice last fall. Joseph S. Bailes, MD, a member of OT's Editorial Board has been the Society's Interim EVP/CEO while the search for a permanent replacement was underway. Dr. Bailes will continue in the interim position through the fall to ensure a smooth transition, the Society said, and will also continue to serve as Co-chair of ASCO's Government Relations Council.

“I would personally like to acknowledge Joe Bailes, who graciously agreed to step in to provide temporary leadership until ASCO could complete its search for a permanent EVP/CEO,” Dr. Hortobagyi said. “Dr. Bailes, himself a Past President of ASCO, has done a superb job leading ASCO as the Interim EVP/CEO for the past nine months, and we are most grateful for his able leadership and service,” said Dr. Hortobagyi.

Dr. Lichter is a radiation oncologist specializing in breast cancer. While at NCI, he conducted one of the pivotal trials that found the use of lumpectomy and radiation therapy to be as effective as mastectomy. He is also well known for his research in 3-D treatment planning and conformal dose delivery of radiation therapy.

Susan Newton, RN, MS, AOCN, AOCNS, Director of Nursing Initiatives for Ortho Biotech, received the Connie Henke Yarbro Excellence in Cancer Nursing Mentorship Award, one of the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation's Distinguished Honors, for her mentorship of nurses who want to publish in the nursing literature, run for national ONS office, or pursue higher education. Ms. Newton was also recognized at this year's ONS Congress for her six years of service on the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation Editorial Board.

The Society of Surgical Oncology has elected the following Officers and Executive members:

  • Raphael E. Pollock, MD, PhD, Head of the Division of Surgery as well as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, as President.
  • Nicholas J. Petrelli, MD, Medical Director of the Helen H. Graham Cancer Center and Professor of Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University, as President-elect.
  • William G. Cance, MD, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida in Gainesville and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, as Vice President.
  • Mitchell C. Posner, MD, Professor and Chief of the Section of General Surgery and Surgical Oncology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, as Treasurer. Dr. Posner is also Professor in the University's Cancer Research Center and Director of the Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program.
  • Peter W. T. Pisters, MD, and Lisa A. Newman, MD, MPH, were named Executive Council Members. Dr. Pisters is Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgical Oncology, Associate Director of the Sarcoma Center, and Chief of the Sarcoma Service at M. D. Anderson. Dr. Newman is Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • David L. Bartlett, MD, Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh, was elected Councillor-at-Large.

The American Association for Cancer Research chose the first 11 recipients of the new Jeannik M. Littlefield–AACR Grants in Metastatic Colon Cancer Research. The Grants are sponsored by Jacques and Sandy Littlefield of Portola Valley, CA, and named for Mr. Littlefield's mother. AACR is currently distributing a total of $2,644,977 to the recipients:

  • Peter Carmeliet, MD, PhD, of Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology: “Preclinical Development of Anti-P1GF Antibodies for Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Steven A. Curley, MD, of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center: “Carbon Nanotubules and Gold Nanoparticles as Radiofrequency Targets.”
  • Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania: “Novel Therapy for Resistant Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Edgar G. Engelman, MD, of Stanford University: “T-Cell Signaling in Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Douglas V. Faller, MD, PhD, of Boston University School of Medicine: “PKC-delta as a Therapeutic Target in Colon Cancer.”
  • Robert D. Ladner, PhD, of the University of Southern California: “Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors for the Treatment of Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Eric Lagasse, PhD, PharmD, of the University of Pittsburgh: “Metastatic Colon Cancer, Stem Cells, and Bioreactors.”
  • Nouri Neamati, PhD, of the University of Southern California: “Preclinical Development of SC144 in Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Boris C. Pasche, MD, PhD, of Northwestern University: “Targeting the TGFBR1*6A in Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Gary K. Schwartz, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “Targeting the Notch Signaling Pathway in Metastatic Colon Cancer.”
  • Oliver Stoeltzing, MD, of the Universität Regensburg: “The Role of Hsp90 in Hepatic Growth of Colorectal Cancer Metastases.”

Ellen R. Gritz, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, received the 2006 Business and Professional Women's Clubs Texas Award in recognition of her research related to cigarette smoking.

Mitchell H. Gail, MD, PhD, Chief of the Biostatistics Branch in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, received the 2006 Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science from the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics. Dr. Gail's award lecture, “Absolute Risk: Clinical Applications and Controversies,” illustrated the clinical applications of what is now known as the Gail model for absolute breast cancer risk. The Zelen Award recognizes an individual in government, industry, or academia who has significantly affected the theory and practice of statistical science.

Alan Hall, PhD, Chairman of the Sloan-Kettering Institute's Cell Biology Program, received the 2006 Gairdner International Award. The Toronto-based Gairdner Foundation presents awards each year to biomedical scientists who have made original contributions to the understanding of human disease.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center also announced the following faculty appointments:

  • Peter Scardino, MD, Head of the Prostate Cancer Program and the Florence and Theodore Baumritter/Enid Ancell Chair of Urologic Oncology, is the new Chairman of the Department of Surgery, replacing Murray Brennan, MD, who stepped down after more than 20 years in the position. Dr. Scardino has developed techniques to decrease the effects of prostate cancer surgery on urinary and sexual function and improve the chances of long-term control by the total removal of the prostate, pioneered the use of statistical models to predict the natural progression of prostate cancer and how it will respond to treatment, and focused on the identification of tissue and genetic markers of the behavior of prostate cancer. Dr. Brennan will continue to treat patients and conduct research at MSKCC.
  • Charles L. Sawyers, MD, was named Chairman of the Center's new Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program and the first Maria-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair. The Program will bring together physician-scientists from different clinical and scientific disciplines to conduct translational research across cancer types. Dr. Sawyers comes to MSKCC from UCLA, and his work examines how signaling pathway abnormalities in cancer cells can be used as targets for new cancer drugs. He played a key role in the clinical development of imatinib, and his discovery with colleagues of the molecular basis for resistance to that treatment led to the development of dasatinib.

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute announced that the following faculty members recently received awards:

  • Aileen Rodriguez, Community Liaison in the Community Education and Outreach Department, was presented with the 2006 Tampa Bay Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Business Award in the nonprofit health category. The awards recognize businesses, nonprofit organizations, and employees who exemplify the rich contributions made by and for Hispanics in the Tampa Bay area.
  • Dmitry Gabrilovich, MD, PhD, Professor in the Immunology Program, was elected by his peers on the Scientific Advisory Council as Moffitt's 2006 Scientist of the Year. His research has focused on understanding the mechanisms of tumor-associated immunosuppression and on developing cancer vaccines.

Moffitt also announced these faculty appointments:

  • Domenico Coppola, MD, was named Chief of the Anatomic Pathology Division. He had acted as Interim Chief since September 2005. His research interests include the role of the insulin-like growth factor I-receptor in cell transformation and tumor progression as well as the study of CD44 expression in tumor metastases.
  • B. Lee Green Jr., MEd, PhD, was appointed Executive Director of Institutional Diversity, where he will oversee Moffitt's diversity efforts and bring his expertise in health disparities research to Moffitt's Health Outcomes & Behavior Program.
  • Philip Tofilon, PhD, was appointed Professor in the Drug Discovery Program. His research involves novel anticancer drugs and their interaction with radiation.
  • Indira Umamaheswaran, MBBS, was named Instructor and physician in the Psychosocial and Palliative Care Division.

Wiley W. “Chip” Souba Jr., MD, ScD, MBA, will be the next Dean of Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Souba is currently Chair of Surgery at Penn State College of Medicine and Surgeon-in-Chief at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, as well as Director of the Penn State Hershey Center for Leadership Development and holder of the John A. and Marian T. Waldhausen Professorship in Surgery at Penn State.

The current Dean, Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences and CEO of the Ohio State University Medical Center, launched the search for a dean to offer full-time dedication to the College's leadership, allowing him more time to provide strategic guidance to the development of the overall academic medical and health science center.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute announced the following faculty appointments:

  • Saurin R. Popat, MD, as Attending Surgeon in the Department of Head & Neck and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. His research centers on head and neck surgical oncology, microvascular reconstruction of the head and neck, skull base surgery, thyroid and parathyroid disease, and laser surgery.
  • Dan M. Iancu, MD, MSc, joined the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He studies the role of serum tumor markers in the diagnosis of metastatic breast and prostate cancer and immunoglobulin-free light chain analysis in patients with multiple myeloma.
  • Prasanna Kumar, MD, was appointed to the Department of Diagnostic Imaging, and his research interests include virtual colonoscopy and low-dose CT for lung cancer.
  • Johnny Yap, MD, who studies high-dose brachytherapy for various cancers and image-enhanced radiation treatment techniques, has joined the Department of Radiation Medicine.

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center in San Antonio, TX, has announced the following appointments:

  • Salvador Bruno, MD, as a research physician in the Hematology/ Oncology Division. He is also Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. His responsibilities will include both patient care and research on novel cancer therapies, and he will focus on expanding the lymphoma and myeloma programs at the Center.
  • Chee Ng, PharmD, PhD, joined the CTRC Institute for Drug Development as the Director of Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics. In addition, Dr. Ng received a faculty appointment as Assistant Member of the Institute, and he is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. As Director, Dr. Ng will be responsible for the Institute's Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics Unit, which analyzes and interprets data from ongoing preclinical and clinical drug development studies.

Juan J. Herran, MD, was appointed Medical Director of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando's Thoracic Care Center. Dr. Herran, a pulmonologist with the Pulmonary Practice of Orlando, will use his knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases to streamline care for thoracic cancer patients at the facility.

City of Hope Cancer Center has received a gift of $6 million from Michael Amini, Chairman and CEO of AICO, Amini Innovation Corp., which will establish the Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center. This gift, combined with an earlier $2 million matching grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, brought total private funding for the Center to $8 million. The Center is to house all components of the Department of Transfusion Medicine in a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot, three-story facility, allowing for the expansion of City of Hope's blood collection, analysis, processing, and transfusion programs while offering a comfortable setting for patients and donors.

The NCI Consumer Advocates E-Newshas been renamed the NCI Nealon Digest in honor of the late Eleanor O'Donoghue Nealon, the first Director of the NCI's Office of Liaison Activities, who died of breast cancer in 1999. An article in the June 9 issue of the publication noted that Ms. Nealon built bridges between the cancer advocacy community, the scientific community, and the federal government, and worked to ensure that cancer patients could play a larger part in the decision-making process at NCI.

Anita Roberts, PhD, former Chief of the Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis in the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research, died May 26 after a more-than-two-year battle with gastric cancer. She was 64.

Dr. Roberts, in collaboration with Michael Sporn, MD, now at Dartmouth Medical School, discovered and characterized tumor growth factor (TGF)-beta, establishing the cytokine's role in autoimmune disease, fibrogenesis, carcinogenesis, and wound healing.

An article in the NCI Cancer Bulletin noted that her colleagues remember her not only as an accomplished scientist, but also as a warm person who was dedicated to her work and her coworkers.

“Anita was a remarkable researcher and colleague who has left an indelible scientific legacy,” said NCI Acting Director John Niederhuber, MD.

Robert Wiltrout, PhD, Director of the NCI's Center for Cancer Research, highlighted Dr. Roberts' relationships with colleagues. “She was an extraordinary mentor who created a uniquely nurturing environment in her laboratory,” he said.

Dr. Roberts, who is survived by her husband, Robert; her two children, Greg and Karl; and five grandchildren, kept an online diary of the past two years at www.anitaroberts.net. Her last entry, posted 16 days before her death, read: “I'm quickly approaching the end of my journey….I've been rapidly losing ground to this disease and I've now come home to end my life's journey in peace. Love to all of you, and no regrets.”

Susan McCreary, RN, was named City of Hope's first recipient of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Each month at City of Hope, which is one of more than 50 medical facilities currently presenting this Award, physicians, nurses, patients, and patients' families will nominate a nurse to receive it.

Ms. McCreary, who has been a nurse at City of Hope since 1985, recently taught the surgical nursing staff how to care for patients who have undergone reconstructive surgery, demonstrating the importance of an evidence-based practice approach. Ms. McCreary is also a volunteer for the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team and is becoming certified as an emergency medical technician. The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died in 1999 at age 33 from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, by his family members because of the care they and Mr. Barnes received from nurses during his illness.

Along with a certificate, the award includes a sculpture called “A Healer's Touch,” which is hand-carved by artists of the Shona tribe in Africa.

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