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SHOP TALK: New Jobs, Appointments, & Changes; Promotions; Honors; Grants, & Other ‘People News’

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000399777.30529.93
Shop Talk




Mark Kris, MD, received ASCO's first Humanitarian Award, given for his “dedication and compassion in both his professional work and free time, which has touched the lives of countless individuals.” The award was given at the Annual Meeting.

“ASCO developed the Humanitarian Award to recognize an oncologist who personifies the Society's mission and values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care or through exceptional service or leadership in the US or abroad,” ASCO CEO Allen Lichter, MD, said in a news release.

“For me, it's all about trying to give people the opportunity to live the life they choose,” Dr. Kris said of his professional and humanitarian efforts. “In truth, everything kind of flows out of being an oncologist. Once you find yourself in a situation of dealing with people with cancer and their families, it's only natural that you'd want to do other things. I am very honored and humbled to receive this year's Humanitarian Award.”

Dr. Kris is Chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service and the William and Joy Ruane Chair in Thoracic Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In addition to being a pioneer in the advancement of lung cancer research and treatment, he has demonstrated exemplary patient care, including making house calls to visit those at the end of their lives, participating in various marathons to benefit cancer patients, and serving on the medical advisory boards of Uniting Against Lung Cancer and CancerCare.

Dr. Kris has also spent much of his free time assisting with humanitarian aid in poverty- and disaster-stricken areas in the US, as well as overseas—for example, with Habitat for Humanity; traveling to Siquirres, Costa Rica, a rural area with limited economic opportunities, to help youth programs and build a basketball court and a church; assisting with flood relief in Walton, NY and earthquake relief in Haiti; and helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Biloxi, Mississippi.

He also made six trips between 2006 and 2010 to rebuild homes in Dulac, Louisiana, a small French-speaking town that had been devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Gustav in 2008, where one-third of the population lives below the poverty line.



The Society for Translational Onco-logy (STO) has awarded its Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize to Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, the Nellie B. Connally Chair in Breast Medical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, given for his life-long dedication to cancer patients and his pioneering progress in bringing new hope to breast cancer patients. As part of the honor, he will deliver the keynote lecture, which he has titled “Towards Individualized Breast Cancer Therapy: Translating Biological Concepts to the Bedside” on September 7 at the 2nd Annual STO meeting to be hosted in collaboration with the 3rd International Cancer Symposium of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's University Belfast.

Professor Patrick Johnston, has been appointed Chair of the Translational Research Group of the Medical Research Council (MRC), which is responsible for developing and implementing the MRC's research strategy in the UK.



Naoto T. Ueno, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has been appointed Executive Director of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program there. He is also Professor and the new Section Chief of Translational Breast Cancer Research, Department of Breast Medical Oncology, as well as Professor in the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.

At Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the following staff members have recently received grants to fund disparities research:





  • Christine Am-b-ro-sone, PhD, Chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, and Michael Higgins, PhD, Associate Member in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, have received a $3.89 million grant from the NIH to study breast cancer in African-American women, investigating why African-American women are more likely to get breast cancer at a younger age and have more aggressive and difficult-to-treat tumors, compared with white women despite having a lower incidence of breast cancer than white women. One path they will explore is looking at gene methylation to determine whether methylation patterns are associated with high-grade or aggressive tumors and whether patterns are different between African-American and white women.


  • Willie Under-wood III, MD, MPH, MSci, Associate Pro-fessor in the Department of Urology, and Heather Orom, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, have received a $3.1 million award from the NCI, a multicenter R01 grant aimed at identifying the underlying causes of racial differences in prostate cancer treatment and “post-treatment regret.” Dr. Underwood plans to identify the factors that influence the treatment decisions for both white men and black men and assess the differences in the distress and regret they experience over their treatment decisions.


  • James Mohler, MD, Professor of Oncology and Chair of the Department of Urology, has been awarded an $818,878 grant from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program (DoD PCRP) to explore the role of androgen receptor and androgen-regulated genes in prostate cancer. His work aims to quantify the differences in androgenic stimulation of prostate cancer in African-Americans compared with Caucasian Americans and whether these differences could explain the 2.4-fold greater mortality among African-American men with prostate cancer. This award provides for additional analysis of biospecimens collected over the last eight years during the largest population-based study ever performed of men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer, the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project, which was also funded by DoD PCRP and led by Dr. Mohler.


  • Levi Ross, PhD, MPH, Assistant Member in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences and faculty member of the Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research, has been awarded a five-year, $690,000 NIH grant to explore ways to improve treatment decision-making support for African-American men with prostate cancer. “Making decisions about which type of treatment to undergo, if any, is complex because most men are eligible for more than one treatment and there's no best choice for all patients,” he said. “Because survival is high, regretting decisions can cause mental and emotional suffering, but being satisfied with treatment choices can greatly enhance quality of life.”


Tracy L. McElveen, MD, has joined Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia, as a Radiation Oncologist, primarily at the Lawrenceville office and will also serve as the Medical Director of the Integrative Oncology Program for Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia/Vantage Oncology nationally.

After graduating from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where she served as Chief Resident, Dr. McElveen relocated to the Atlanta area, as Department Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Northside Hospital. In 2008, she was named the American Cancer Society Physician Liaison and served for the Commission on Cancer. She specializes in women's malignancies and was one of the pioneers in partial breast irradiation and one of the few physicians endorsed by MammoSite Targeted Radiation Therapy.

The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation has honored the following award-winners:



  • Certified Breast Care Nurse of the Year: Susan Bowman, RN, OCN, CBCN, MSW, Nurse Navigator at York (Pennsylvania) Cancer Center, for her contributions to breast care nursing and nursing service and for supporting and promoting certification in breast care nursing.


  • Oncology Certi-fied Nurse of the Year: Maureen O'Hara, RN, BSN, OCN, Staff Nurse at Stanford (California) Hospitals and Clinics, for her contributions to oncology nursing and oncology nursing service and for supporting and promoting certification in oncology nursing.


  • Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse of the Year: Marcelle Kaplan, RN, MS, AOCN, CBCN, an Oncology Nurse Consultant in Merrick, NY, for her significant contributions to oncology nursing and oncology nursing service and for supporting and promoting certification in oncology nursing.
  • Employer Recognition Award (fewer than 25 RNs): Springfield Oncology Hematology Associates (OHA) in Springfield, Missouri, as an organization that employs fewer than 25 registered nurses, for providing sustained support of oncology nursing certification.
  • Employer Recognition Award (more than 25 RNs): Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, as an organization that employs 25 or more registered nurses, for sustained support of oncology nursing certification.


Jiya Ma, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at Ohio State University Medical Center, has been invited to serve as a member of the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Neurodegeneration Study Section, Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health, assuring the quality of the organization's peer review process, for a term starting July 1 and ending June 30, 2015.



Peter Frederick, MD, has been named Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Center, a newly created position, overseeing the use of robot-assisted and laparoscopic techniques to treat gynecologic cancers or related medical issues.

“Dr. Frederick's extensive experience in laparosopic surgery, his fellowship training in advanced gynecologic robotic surgery, and his organizational skills combine to make him superbly qualified for this new role,” said Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology. “We've seen a surge in the volume of laparoscopic and robotic surgeries we're performing since he joined the department, and we're looking to expand the program further so that more women in Western New York have a trusted option for these complex minimally invasive approaches.”

Dr. Frederick is also an Assistant Professor in the Division of Surgical Subspecialties within the Department of Gynecologic Oncology.



Glen Weiss, MD, who holds joint appointments at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale (Arizona) Healthcare, is the new Chief Medical Officer of the international Cancer Research and Biostatistics-Clinical Trials Consortium (CRAB-CTC), a Seattle-based cooperative research network representing some 10 institutes worldwide dedicated to funding and facilitating clinical trials, thereby providing lung cancer patients with newly developed therapeutics as quickly as possible.

CRAB-CTC members include laboratory and clinical researchers in the US, Canada, and China, and is not affiliated or funded by government, but works directly with pharmaceutical firms to advance their compounds.



Ellen R. Gritz, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Behavioral Science and the Olla S. Stribling Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was one of four honorees recognized with the 2011 Angel Award. Gritz was recognized at the annual Be an Angel Foundation Awards Gala for her work in cancer prevention and control, and as an established international leader whose research contributions have benefited many.

Professor Bill Fraser has been appointed by the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the UK to lead a major initiative in research in bone and muscle disorders. Prof. Fraser was previously at the University of Liverpool, where he was head of the Department of Musculoskeletal Science within the Institute of Aging.

A new cancer center opened in Ohio earlier this month: University Hospitals (UH) Seidman Cancer Center, the area's first and only freestanding cancer hospital, is a 10-story, 150-bed cancer hospital, designed to be “patient-centered and healing-focused,” based on input from patients and family members.

The $260 million, 375,000- square-foot hospital is named for Jane and Lee Seidman, who donated $42 million for the center in November. The center is one of 12 freestanding cancer hospitals in the country that are part of an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (i.e., Case Comprehensive Cancer Center based at Case Western Reserve University).It consolidates all inpatient and outpatient cancer services on the UH Case Medical Center campus in Cleveland's University Circle.

Information from the center notes that the patient- and family-centered design features inpatient exercise areas, patient education areas, natural light, and “lively and whimsical” artwork. To connect patients with the healing power of nature, the facility will have glassed-in areas that overlook the Mary and Al Schneider Healing Garden, which features sloping walkways, meditation areas, and gardens.

A technology that could allow cancer specialists to better determine the most effective chemotherapy treatment for a given patient has won the $10,000 first prize in the 11th annual Big Bang! Business Plan Competition at the University of California, Davis. The contest is run by MBA students in the Graduate School of Management.

“This personalizes chemotherapy,” said Paul Henderson, PhD, Assistant Adjunct Professor of Hematology and Oncology at UC Davis Cancer Center and CEO of the winning company, Accelerated Medical Diagnostics. The innovation, based on accelerator mass spectrometry, can trace a small dose of an anti-cancer drug in a patient prior to treatment, enabling doctors to determine if the treatment will work before administering a full dose.

“Our goal is to get the right therapy for the right tumor,” he said in a news release. The procedure is now in early clinical testing in bladder and lung cancer patients.

Students helped him obtain patents and develop a business plan, and the hope, Dr. Henderson said, is that the technology could be on the market in two to four years, pending regulatory approval. He estimates that each test would cost the insurer or patient about $4,000 each.

The competition brings together interdisciplinary teams of students, university researchers and faculty, with mentors from the region's business community. Some of Northern California's largest employers, venture capitalists and law firms provide the prize money, coaching and volunteer judges. The Big Bang! has produced many teams that have become successful start-ups since its founding in 2000.

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