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James Allison, PhD, Chair of Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine of Kyoto University in Japan, have jointly received the first Tang Prize for Biopharmaceutical Science. The biennial prize was established by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin in December 2012, and this year's prize includes a cash award of NT$40 million ($1.3 million) and a NT$10 million research grant. Academia Sinica, Taiwan's preeminent academic organization, similar to the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S., administered award selection.

JAMES ALLISON, PHD (left); and TASUKU HONJO, MD, PHD

JAMES ALLISON, PHD (left); and TASUKU HONJO, MD, PHD

“Both scholars' discoveries have opened a new therapeutic era in medicine,” Lee Yuan-tseh, PhD, Taiwan's winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, said at the award announcement in Taipei, Taiwan, in June.

Allison's research has focused on understanding T cells. He developed an antibody to block CTLA-4 to unleash an immune attack on tumors, and that drug, ipilimumab, is now approved for treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma.

Honjo discovered the second immune checkpoint on T cells, PD1. Several drugs that block PD1 and its activating ligand, PD-L1, are currently in clinical trials.

Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD, a health economist and member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, has been appointed by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to serve on a new Performance Measures Committee. The 29-member panel is charged with recommending standard statewide measures of health performance by 2015. The panel will propose benchmarks to track costs and improvements in health outcomes among state residents.

SCOTT RAMSEY, MD, PHD

SCOTT RAMSEY, MD, PHD

Ramsey directs the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, an initiative at Fred Hutch to bridge research and clinical practice to develop strategies for improving the quality of cancer patient care while reducing the costs.

“Participating in this important undertaking complements our efforts to engage payers and providers across the state to work collaboratively in developing ways to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes,” Ramsey said in a news release.

He was formerly Director of Clinical Economics for UW's Center for Cost and Outcomes Research and is a past president of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.

Li Ma, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Jeffrey Tyner, PhD, Assistant Professor at Oregon Health & Science University, have received the 2014 Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The annual award, funded by an endowment established through a bequest from Martin L. Wachtel, honors early-career investigators who have performed outstanding work in cancer research. The recipients presented a lecture and each received a $12,500 prize.

LI MA, PHD

LI MA, PHD

JEFFREY TYNER, PHD

JEFFREY TYNER, PHD

The Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology presented eight community-based oncology practices with 2014 Clinical Trials Participation Awards, which recognize clinical research sites across the U.S. for their excellence in implementing high-quality clinical trials programs in their communities.

“Oncologists in community practice have provided a significant, longstanding contribution to clinical cancer research in this country, bringing novel therapies and treatment options directly to the patients who need them,” W. Charles Penley, MD, FASCO, Chair of the Conquer Cancer Foundation Board of Directors, said in a news release. “The Conquer Cancer Foundation is proud to recognize their dedication to excellence in clinical research, and congratulate them for substantially furthering our understanding of cancer.”

The recipients, recognized at the ASCO Annual Meeting this spring, were:

  • Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota;
  • Doctors Hospital of Laredo in Laredo, Texas;
  • Horizon BioAdvance LLC in Lafayette, Indiana;
  • Ingalls Memorial Hospital/Ingalls Cancer Research Center in Harvey, Illinois;
  • Mount Sinai Hospital Cancer Care Center in Chicago, Illinois;
  • Northern Indiana Cancer Research Consortium in South Bend, Indiana;
  • Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon; and
  • Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio.

Six ovarian cancer immunotherapy research projects were selected to receive funding from a grant jointly held by Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. RPCI and UPCI were awarded an $11 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2013 to fund innovative and multidisciplinary research in ovarian cancer. This program is unique among other NCI SPORE projects in that it concentrates exclusively on immunological approaches to ovarian cancer risk assessment and treatment.

Junior faculty from RPCI, UPCI, and the University of Buffalo were eligible to apply for the Career Development Program funding; and established investigators from those institutions were eligible to apply for Developmental Research Program funding.

The first cycle of grants provided funding for two career development projects and four developmental research projects. The recipients were:

  • Junko Matsuzaki, PhD, Director of the Immune Analysis at RPCI, who received $50,000 for a career development project titled “Development of a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for ovarian cancer using tumor-recognizing CD4+ T cells”;
JUNKO MATSUZAKI, PHD

JUNKO MATSUZAKI, PHD

  • Natasa Obermajer, PhD, Research Associate with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Immunology, who received $50,000 for a career-development project, “Overcoming ovarian cancer-associated immunosuppression by regulating Th17/Treg placidity”;
  • Danuta Kozbor, PhD, Associate Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at RPCI, who received $50,000 for a developmental research project titled “Invasive ovarian cancer models for treatment with oncolytic virotherapy”;
DANUTA KOZBOR, PHD

DANUTA KOZBOR, PHD

  • Brahm Segal, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine, and Associate Member of the Department of Immunology at RPCI, who received $50,000 for his developmental research project “Evaluation of novel immune biomarkers for ovarian cancer”;
BRAHM SEGAL, MD

BRAHM SEGAL, MD

  • Jo Freudenheim, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine at UB, who received $25,000 for the developmental research project “Infection in the etiology of ovarian cancer”; and
JO FREUDENHEIM, PHD

JO FREUDENHEIM, PHD

  • Anda Vlad, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at UPCI, who received $50,000 for her developmental research project “Inflammation and intratumoral immune checkpoint activity in ovarian cancer.”

The NCCN Foundation has awarded grants to five young investigators from National Comprehensive Cancer Network member institutions—awardees who are dedicated to advancing and discovering new treatments for cancer, enhancing quality, and improving patient education. The grants will provide $150,000 in funding over a two-year period beginning in September. The studies will be managed and overseen by the NCCN Oncology Research Program.

The awardees are:

  • James Murphy, MD, MS, of the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, for “Breast Cancer Radiation among Elderly Women in the U.S.: Assessing the Impact of NCCN Guidelines on Nationwide Patterns of Care”;
  • Jae Park, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, for “Improving Safety and Efficacy of CD19-Targeted CAR Modified T Cells in Patients with B-Cell Hematologic Malignancies”;
  • Ashely Rosko, MD, of Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, for “NCCN Senior Adult Oncology: Myeloma Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and Biomarkers of Aging Investigation”;
  • Terri Woodward, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, for “Novel Psychological Intervention to Prevent Fertility-Related Distress”; and
  • Jing Xia, PhD, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, for “PERMIT: Prostate Early Recurrence Indicating Treatment.”

Diane Barber, PhD, an advanced practice nurse in the Investigational Cancer Therapeutics Phase I Clinical Trial Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, received the 2014 Ethel Fleming Arceneaux Outstanding Nurse-Oncologist Award—MD Anderson's highest nursing honor. She received the award—$15,000, a crystal plaque, and a commemorative pin—at a ceremony on June 26.

DIANE BARBER, PHD

DIANE BARBER, PHD

Her Phase I clinical trial patients, many of whom have advanced-stage cancer that has not responded to standard treatment, inspire Barber every day, she noted in a news release. “It's amazing how our patients are willing to leave their homes, jobs, and families to participate in our clinical trials, not even knowing if they'll get any benefit,” she said. “Their courage, spirit, and hope constantly inspire me.”

She joined MD Anderson in 1998 and became part of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics in 2009. Barber, who currently teaches nursing part-time, plans to become a full-time professor when she retires from nursing.

Tim Boyle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Sportswear, and his wife, Mary Boyle, have donated $10 million to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. The gift will create a mentorship fund honoring Hildegard Lamfrom, PhD, a molecular biologist known for her research in protein synthesis and her mentoring of other scientists. The Hildegard Lamfrom, PhD, Endowed Mentor Fund will help OHSU recruit and support graduate students and early career investigators.

TIM and MARY BOYLE

TIM and MARY BOYLE

HILDEGARD LAMFROM, PHD

HILDEGARD LAMFROM, PHD

Lamfrom, who died in 1984, was Tim Boyle's aunt and the sister of Gert Boyle, Chairman of Columbia Sportswear. She mentored Brian Druker, MD, Director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, whose research led to the development of imatinib.

“I can't think of a more fitting tribute to Hildegard Lamfrom than a mentorship program that will cultivate a new generation of scientific minds pushing the boundaries of their field,” OHSU President Joe Robertson, MD, MBA, said in a news release.

The Boyles' gift is the largest private donation received to date in support of the Knight Cancer Challenge, a $1 billion OHSU fundraising campaign to revolutionize early detection and treatment of cancer. More than $310 million has been raised to date.

Moffitt Cancer Center will name its Precision Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory and new Patient and Family Center after philanthropists Carol and Frank Morsani, who have been longtime supporters of Tampa's health care community and of Moffitt.

CAROL and FRANK MORSANI

CAROL and FRANK MORSANI

“Needless to say, we are very appreciative of this recognition. Our philosophy of philanthropy is an effort to motive and encourage others to participate in the betterment of our community,” Carol Morsani said in a news release. “Few have not been touched by this menacing disease.”

The Morsani Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory is led by Executive Director Anthony M. Magliocco, MD. His research currently focuses on developing clinical biomarkers that can help identify the right drug for a particular patient or determine if a clinical trial is a good match for a patient with a certain tumor gene mutation.

ANTHONY M

ANTHONY M

The Morsani Patient and Family Center, scheduled to open next fall, will be part of Moffitt's new McKinley Outpatient Facility, which includes several clinics, an ambulatory surgery center, infusion and imaging facilities, and research labs.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center has been renewed by the National Cancer Institute. St. Jude is the first and only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted to children. St. Jude has been designated as an NCI cancer center since 1977, and the hospital was named a comprehensive cancer center in 2008.

In other St. Jude news, the following three physician-scientists have been appointed to leadership positions:

  • Mitchell Weiss, MD, PhD, has been named Chair of the Department of Hematology. He joins after working most recently at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
MITCHELL WEISS, MD, PHD

MITCHELL WEISS, MD, PHD

  • J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD, who joined the Department of Developmental Neurobiology in 2008, has been appointed Chair of the new Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. He will also hold the Edward F. Barry Endowed Chair in Cell and Molecular Biology.
J

J

  • Kim Nichols, MD, has been selected to launch the new Division of Hereditary Cancer Predisposition. She is currently Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the UPenn Perelman School of Medicine, where she also directs the CHOP Pediatric Hereditary Cancer Predisposition Program.
KIM NICHOLS, MD

KIM NICHOLS, MD

  • Patricia M. LoRusso, DO, will join Yale Cancer Center as a Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of Innovative Medicine in August. Prior to this appointment she has served in numerous leadership roles at Wayne State University's Barbara Karmanos Cancer Institute, most recently as Director of the Phase I Clinical Trials Program and of the Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics.
PATRICIA M

PATRICIA M

“Pat LoRusso is a pre-eminent leader in early phase drug development, and she joins the cancer center at a time during which we have committed to accelerating the process of getting new drugs to patients,” Thomas J. Lynch, MD, Director of Yale Cancer Center and Physician-in-Chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven, said in a news release.

The Association of Community Cancer Centers named the following six cancer programs as recipients of the organization's 2014 Innovator Awards for pioneering solutions in the effective delivery of cancer care:

  • DeCesaris Cancer Institute at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland, for a three-year pilot project that focused on three prospective oncology nursing interventions examining quality measures for fatigue, distress, and sleep-wake disturbance, which has led to the development of an advanced NP-led Symptom Management Clinic that provided rapid access and coordination of care with the oncologists and infusions team;
  • Beaumont Cancer Institute of Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, Michigan, for developing and launching an outpatient Nutrition Clinic to improve patients' overall quality of life by decreasing ER visits, re-admissions, and treatment breaks;
  • Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center of Duke Oncology Network in Durham, North Carolina, for the Carolinas Palliative Care Database, a community and academic partnership based at Duke University, which uses a web-based tool to collect quality data from physicians at point-of-care to track quality and outcomes in palliative care by offering immediate feedback and highlighting areas of concern;
  • New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants, Ltd., in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for establishing the “COME HOME” medical home model, which is now being piloted in seven independent community oncology practices and is expected to save more than $33 million in costs in three years;
  • Oncology Specialists, SC, in Park Ridge, Illinois, for developing a process for leveraging electronic medical records to create comprehensive survivorship care plans for patients, providing an expansive summary of treatment received, include side effects, health maintenance issues, impact of the cancer diagnosis on the well-being of family members, and other vital information; and
  • University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro in New Jersey, for its best-practice process for implementing a system-wide distress screening program that provides patients with comprehensive support services across the continuum of care.
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Eddie Reed, Noted Cancer Health Disparities Investigator, Dies at 60

Eddie Reed, MD, Clinical Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health, died in May at age 60. Reed researched cancer care for the underserved as well as cancer drug development, focusing on DNA damage and repair in cells.

Before he was recruited to the NIMHD in 2012, Reed served as Professor of Oncologic Sciences and the Abraham Mitchell Distinguished Investigator at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile. He had also previously served as Chief of the NCI's Pharmacology Branch and the Ovarian Cancer and Metastatic Prostate Cancer Clinic in the Division of Clinical Science.

He was the first African-American branch Chief to serve at the NCI, and had also been Director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University in Morgantown and Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reed was a member of the American Association for Cancer Research for 27 years, having served on several boards and committees, including Chair of the Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council. He was also on the MICR-Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship Award Committee and the Research Grant Review Committee, and was on the editorial boards of Cancer Prevention Research and Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

EDDIE REED, MD (1953–2014)

EDDIE REED, MD (1953–2014)

“He was a pioneer and leader in cancer research and was a respected mentor and role model for minority investigators. His scientific and clinical contributions have been critical to cancer health disparities and his legacy will live on in future generations of cancer researchers from all racial and ethnic backgrounds,” Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD, MICR Council Chair, noted in memoriam for the AACR website.

Reed had also served on the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities and on the Institute of Medicine's National Cancer Policy Forum. He received the United States Public Health Service Commendation Medal twice.

Reed was preceded in death by his son, Edward. He is survived by his wife, Meenakshi, several siblings, and a large extended family.

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