Jonathan Licht, MD, has been appointed Director of the University of Florida Health Cancer Center, a position he started on October 1. He was previously the Johanna Dobe Professor of Hematology/Oncology and Chief of the Division of Medicine-Hematology/Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he was also Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.
Licht has expertise in blood cancers. His research—funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and others—focuses on aberrant gene regulation as a cause of blood cancers and developing treatment strategies to reverse abnormal, cancer-causing gene functions.
He is also Chief Scientific Officer of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation; a member of the executive committee of the American Society of Hematology; and on the faculty of the ASH/European Hematology Association Translational Research Training in Hematology Joint Program.
Andrew S. Chi, MD, PhD, has been named Chief of Neuro-Oncology at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University Langone Medical Center and Co-director (with John G. Golfinos, MD) of the NYU Langone Brain Tumor Center.
Lois B. Travis, MD, ScD, has been named the Lawrence H. Einhorn Professor of Cancer Research at Indiana University School of Medicine and Director of the new Cancer Survivorship Research Program at IU Simon Cancer Center. She is also now a member of the Cancer Center's Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program, which focuses on prevention, early detection, and survivorship.
The new survivorship program Travis will lead will initiate research to predict who is susceptible to toxicities in cancer treatment and then alter or develop preventive measures to protect the patient from long-term adverse side effects.
James J. Mulé, PhD, Associate Center Director for Translational Science at Moffitt Cancer Center, has been named a Master of Immunology by the American Association for Cancer Research journal Cancer Immunology Research. The distinction recognizes Mulé's life contributions to cancer research—in particular, his work to better understand how anti-tumor immune responses develop and are regulated by the body.
His research focuses on characterizing and validating genomic signatures of immunotherapy response, as well as designing and translating novel vaccine and adoptive T-cell transfer strategies to patients with advanced solid tumors.
Anil Kapoor, MD, FRCSC, Director of the McMaster Institute of Urology at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, has been named Chair of the Kidney Cancer Canada Medical Advisory Board. The Board provides oversight for health information, identifies treatment issues, and promotes the organization to other health care providers across Canada.
Ellie Maghami, MD, FACS, Chief of Head and Neck Surgery at City of Hope, has been named the first Norman and Sadie Lee Professor in Head and Neck Cancer there. The professorship—created to advance research, education, and clinical activities in support of head and neck cancer treatment—recognizes the significant contributions Maghami has made in developing a clinical surgery program at City of Hope.
As the holder of the Professorship, Maghami will continue to conduct collaborative research to better understand the underlying causes of head and neck cancer, as well as to develop experimental therapies with an emphasis on molecular targets to make head and neck cancers more sensitive to therapy.
“Dr. Maghami is a nationally recognized expert in all areas of head and neck cancer, and we are pleased to be able to support her work to improve the treatment options, and change the future, for people with head and neck cancer,” Paul A. James, President and Director of the Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation, said in a news release. The Foundation helped establish the Professorship with a $1.5 million gift to City of Hope.
C. Kent Osborne, MD, Director of the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine, has received the 2015 Ben and Margaret Love Foundation Bobby Alford Award for Academic Clinical Professionalism, bestowed annually to Baylor physicians who best exemplify the trait of professionalism in the practice of medicine.
“As a physician, Kent is one of the most concerned and kind-hearted physicians I have ever worked with,” Mothaffar Rimawi, MD, Medical Director of the Smith Breast Center—who has worked and trained with Osborne since 2003—said in a news release. “He spends a lot of time with his patients and provides them with care that is both cutting edge and compassionate. On a personal level, he has been my teacher, my mentor, my boss, my ‘medical’ father figure, my colleague, and my friend. His professionalism permeates everything he does and everything he says.”
Michael B. Atkins, MD, Deputy Director at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of Georgetown University Medical Center, will be leading a national ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group clinical trial in melanoma.
“We have an approved two-drug combination, dabrafenib and trametinib, which works by directly attacking BRAF-mutated melanomas,” Atkins, who treats patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, said in a news release. “We also have two immunotherapy options, ipilimumab and nivolumab, each approved for separate use that work in combination to unleash the body's own immune system to attack the cancer. The question that remains is which of the two drug combinations should be used first and in whom?”
Patients in the study will be randomly assigned to either receive the anti-BRAF mutation drugs first or the immunotherapies first. The patients will receive the other drug combination when and if their cancers become resistant to the treatment. The study is expected to recruit 300 patients who will be followed for up to five years. The National Cancer Institute has provided funding support for this trial; and ECOG-ACRIN is receiving additional funding support from Bristol-Myers Squibb, the manufacturer of ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo), and from Novartis, the company that commercializes dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist).
New York University's Bluestone Center for Clinical Research has received a $369,250 High Priority, Short-Term Project Award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to test a novel, non-viral gene delivery method for treating oral cancer pain. The research is led by Brian L. Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Director of NYU's Bluestone Center for Clinical Research and the NYU Oral Cancer Center; and Seiichi Yamano, DDS, PhD, DMD, MMSc, Assistant Professor of Prosthodontics at NYU College of Dentistry—who together developed the new method being tested.
Matthew Ellis, MD, BChir, PhD, Director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine, has received the Stand Up To Cancer 2015 Laura Ziskin Prize to study the defective DNA repair mechanisms in breast cancer. The prize is a two-year, $250,000 grant that will fund a joint project Ellis is conducting with Charles Swanton, FRCP, BSc, PhD, at the Institute for Cancer Research in London.
David J. Sher, MD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas—Southwestern Medical Center, and Anand Shah, MD, MPH, a post-doctoral residency fellow in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Columbia University Medical Center, have received grants from the Radiation Oncology Institute for their projects to examine the comparative value of radiation therapy.
Sher's project is titled “Comparative Value of Transoral Surgery and Radiation for Oropharynx Cancer,” and Shah's is “Economic Evaluation of SBRT versus Surgery for Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.” Sher and his team are receiving a $200,000 grant; and Shah and his team are receiving a one-year, $40,000 grant.
Richard F. Dunne, MD, and Patrick M. Reagan, MD, have joined the faculty at the University of Rochester's Wilmot Cancer Institute as Senior Instructors in the Department of Medicine, both after completing fellowships there.
Pankaj Sharda, MD, has joined the Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Division, as an Attending Physician at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he specializes in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism. Sharda completed an internal medicine residency at Atlantic Health-Overlook Medical Center, where he served as Chief Resident in his final year. He completed his fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Temple University Health Sciences, serving as Chief Fellow.The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center has received National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center status, an upgrade from its previous designation as an NCI Cancer Center in 2010. The Comprehensive Cancer Center designation includes an $8.1 million grant for cancer center support.
Breast Surgeon Carolyn Kaelin, MD, MPH, FACS, Dies at 54
Carolyn Mary Kaelin, MD, MPH, FACS, a former surgical oncologist in the Women's Cancer Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and former Director of the Breast Clinic at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), has died; the cause was a brain tumor diagnosed in 2010. She was 54.
“We will miss her warmth, energy, intelligence, compassion, and humor,” Eric Winer, MD, Director of the Breast Oncology Center in the Susan F. Smith Center, said in a news release from Dana-Farber. “She was uncompromising in her pursuit of truly outstanding care for each and every patient. I learned more from guiding her through the breast cancer experience than one could imagine.”
Kaelin had served as Founding Director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at BWH from 1996 to 2003, being the youngest woman in that caliber of a role at a major Harvard teaching hospital when she started at age 34, according to information from Dana-Farber. She also actively pursued research that focused on how doctors and patients make decisions, and on quality-of-life issues for breast cancers survivors—particularly the role of exercise. She had joined BWH in 1996, after serving on staff at New England Deaconess from 1993 to 1996 (also being affiliated with Dana-Farber).
Kaelin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, and a rare complication prevented her from returning to clinical practice. She then focused on cancer patient education and cancer survivorship efforts. Her brain tumor was unrelated to the breast cancer.
Kaelin coauthored two books: Living through Breast Cancer and The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan. She also helped create an innovative, exercise-centered breast cancer recovery program for the YMCA. She established the Quality of Life Fund at BWH to support breast cancer survivorship projects; and launched the Knowledge, Strength, and Grace conference series for breast cancer patients and their families, which were held annually in Boston starting in 2006.
She also co-founded the Quality of Life Cancer Fund in Apsen, Colorado in 2008, which raised more than $100,000 each year to support indigent cancer patients in Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley—and most recently in 2015 raised more than $180,000 to date.
An avid athlete, she rode multiple times in the 192-mile Pan-Mass Challenge, a bicycle ride fundraiser for Dana-Farber.
Kaelin is survived by her husband William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School Professor, and her children Kathryn Grace and William (Tripp).
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