Memorial Sloan Kettering Oncologist Begins Term as 50th SGO President
Carol L. Brown, MD, FACOG, FACS, began her 1-year term as the 50th President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) at the conclusion of the Society's 49th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer.
“In service to SGO, I have worked with members, leadership, elected officials, government agencies, and our patients to increase access to high-quality multidisciplinary specialty care, improve reimbursement, increase funding for research, and improve care for women with gynecologic cancer around the world,” said Brown. “These critical issues will remain my priority during my tenure as the 50th President of the SGO.”
Brown will be presiding over the 50th anniversary of the Society and the SGO Annual Meeting scheduled for March 16-19, 2019, in Honolulu.
A member of the SGO since 1994, Brown has served as Chair of the Government Relations Committee, a member of the SGO Board and the Annual Meeting Program Committee Chair for the 2014 SGO Annual Meeting. As President-Elect, Brown continued her service to SGO as Chair of the Health Policy and Socioeconomic Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee.
“The principles of inclusion and health equity—ensuring women affected by cancer have access to high-quality screening and treatment that can prolong and save their lives—are the focus of my career,” said Brown, who is the Associate Director for Diversity and Health Equity at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, N.Y. She is an Attending Surgeon on the Gynecology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Outside of SGO, Brown serves as a Co-Chair of the NRG Oncology Health Disparities Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Biden Cancer Initiative, established by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden with a mission to “develop and drive implementation of solutions to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care and to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes.”
Brown has received several honors and awards, including the first Malcolm X Memorial Scholarship from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, the American Cancer Society's Clinical Oncology Career Development Award for her research in cervical cancer, and the 2017 American Association of Cancer Research Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship. Brown was named one of “America's Leading Physicians” by Black Enterprise magazine in 2001 and 2008; listed in “Top Doctors in the New York Metro Area” by Castle Connolly 2008-2018, and listed in “Best Doctors in America” 2001-2017.
Cancer Researcher Honored for Work on Immunology
Antoni Ribas, MD, Professor in Medicine and Director of the Tumor Immunology Program at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been awarded the sixth American Association of Cancer Research-Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology. The award recognizes scientists for their research in cancer immunology that has had a far-reaching impact on the cancer field.
Ribas is being recognized for his leadership in the development of new cancer immunotherapies that are changing how people with cancer are being treated. His research has been aimed at gaining a better understanding of how the immune system can be effectively used to fight cancer in order to develop more effective and less toxic therapies for people with melanoma.
He led the clinical program that demonstrated the effectiveness of the drug pembrolizumab, which has been a significant advancement in the treatment of melanoma by turning on the immune system to fight the deadly cancer. This was the first of the class of PD-1 blocking antibodies approved by the FDA for the treatment of any cancer. Furthermore, Ribas' laboratory research has allowed defining mechanisms that lead to response and resistance to this class of new drugs.
Ribas is also Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA, which brings together the nation's leading cancer centers to develop new immunotherapies for metastatic disease. The consortium's aim is to maximize the potential of cancer immunotherapy research by building strong collaborations between researchers, nonprofits, and the industry, who are all working together to get new treatments to patients faster.
“It's an honor to have my research and laboratory recognized for our dedication in finding new ways to eradicate deadly cancers,” Ribas said. “While we have come a long way in the field of cancer immunology, there is still so much more to do. We will continue to build on the recent successes to help achieve even greater therapeutic success.”
The Lloyd J. Old Award was established to honor the memory of the late Lloyd J. Old, who was internationally recognized as one of the founders and standard-bearers of the field of cancer immunology.
AACR Inaugurates New Leadership at 2018 Annual Meeting
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recently welcomed Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, Deputy Director for the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins and Associate Director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, as President of the organization for 2018-2019. She was inaugurated during the Annual Business Meeting, held during the AACR Annual Meeting 2018.
Jaffee is the first recipient of the Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli Professorship in Oncology at the SKCCC at Johns Hopkins, Co-Director of the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer, Co-Director of the Immunology Cancer Program, and Co-Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program. She holds faculty positions in the Graduate Programs in Pharmacology, Immunology, and Cell and Molecular Medicine (CMM).
She also serves as Chair (2016-present) and member (2013-present) of the National Cancer Advisory Board for NCI, Co-Chair of the NCI Blue Ribbon Panel for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative (2016-present), and a member on the Biden Cancer Initiative Board of Directors. Jaffee is an internationally recognized expert in cancer immunology, with specific expertise in preclinical and early clinical development of immunotherapies for breast and pancreatic cancers. She holds six vaccine patents, and continues to focus on the development of novel vaccine approaches that overcome immune tolerance to cancers.
“Throughout my years of involvement with the AACR, I've seen what collaboration and partnership between scientists, physicians, institutions, and patient advocates can do to advance cancer research. I am honored to be elected as AACR President and look forward to continuing the work of those who came before me,” said Jaffee. “While there has been tremendous progress over the past decade, we as a research community still have more work to do. It's my hope that we continue to accelerate our research to address key issues like convergence science, implementation and behavioral sciences, and survivorship as we continue our mission to prevent and cure cancer.”
Jaffee has received many honors and awards. She was elected to the 2018 class of Fellows of the AACR Academy. She was recognized with the AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research (2015), the Johns Hopkins University Office of Women in Science and Medicine Vice Dean's Award (2012), the Spore Program Investigator of the Year from the NCI (2006), the Director's Award for Outstanding Teaching from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1998, 1999, 2001), a Career Development Award from the National Kidney Foundation (1992), and the Physician-Scientist Award from the National Institutes of Health (1992).
Additionally, Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, Co-Executive Director of The Institute for Genomic Medicine at the Nationwide Children's Hospital, was inducted as President-Elect. Michael A. Caligiuri, President of the City of Hope National Medical Center, now serves as Past President.
Roswell Park Appoints New Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine
Agnieszka Witkiewicz, MD, has been appointed as the Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also the Chief of Research and Biobanking in the Department of Pathology.
Before coming to the cancer center, she worked at the University of Arizona as the Vice Chair of the Pathology Department, Director of the Gastrointestinal Pathology Fellowship Program, Director of Tissue Acquisition and Cellular/Molecular Analysis Shared Resource, and Professor in the Department of Pathology.
Witkiewicz is an internationally recognized clinician-scientist who combines groundbreaking laboratory research with precision medicine. Her research interests include identifying mechanisms that drive the invasive progression of cancer, with a special focus on breast and pancreatic cancers. As the Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine, Witkiewicz and her team are using next-generation sequencing technologies to identify patients' unique genetic profiles. This information allows clinicians and patients to precisely select the best treatment options based on the current scientific and clinical evidence.
“I'm very excited to be at Roswell Park. One of the things that drew me to the cancer center is that it invests in precision medicine. In my new roles, I look forward to identifying novel therapies for many types of cancer, with a focus on ones that are hard to treat. I'm also looking forward to helping clinicians pinpoint the most effective treatments based on the unique tumor profiles of their patients so that ultimately, people can heal and have a better quality of life,” said Witkiewicz.
As the inaugural Chief of Research and Biobanking, Witkiewicz will continue conducting critical cancer research and enhance cancer specimen acquisition for research studies. Tumor biobanking is crucial for conducting studies on how cancer develops and spreads, and the molecular basis for novel personalized therapies.
“I am delighted that Dr. Witkiewicz has joined Roswell Park to lead the Center for Personalized Medicine. She has made major advances in developing new ways to understand the molecular landscape of cancer. Her skills and expertise will be invaluable in fostering our drive to deliver innovative personalized care to our patients and advance the field of precision genomic medicine. We are very happy to welcome her to the team at Roswell Park,” said Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, Executive Director of the Center for Immunotherapy, Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Deputy Director of Roswell Park.
Memorial Sloan Kettering President/CEO Recognized by SWCRF
The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) recently presented the 2018 David T. Workman Memorial Award to Craig B. Thompson, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), at its SWCRF Breakthroughs Scientific Symposium.
The David T. Workman Memorial Award honors the memory of David T. Workman, one of the most influential leaders of the SWCRF, and is a biennial recognition and 2-year grant bestowed on scientists who develop novel therapies for poorly treatable cancer types. Thompson is being honored for his leadership role in the development of the AG-221 therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that blocked the IDH1-2 enzyme's disruption of normal cell maturation.
“We are excited to celebrate the achievements of Dr. Craig Thompson,” said Samuel Waxman, MD, Founder and CEO of the SWCRF. “He played a major role in bringing cancer metabolism into the mainstream by identifying the importance of IDH1-2 mutations in cancer cell differentiation to create a novel therapy. This breakthrough work perfectly embodies the spirit of the David Workman Award.”
SWCRF Breakthroughs, which featured presentations by SWCRF founder and CEO Samuel Waxman, MD, and SWCRF Chief Scientific Officer Jonathan Licht, MD, and a keynote address by Thompson, closed the Foundation's two-day scientific review that brings together its international network of collaborating scientists to present project updates evaluated by the Scientific Advisory Board as part of the Foundation's grants review process.
Association of Community Cancer Centers Names 2018-2019 President
Thomas A. Gallo, MS, MDA, was named 2018-2019 President of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) during its 44th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit, in Washington, D.C. He is Executive Director of the Virginia Cancer Institute in Richmond, Va., where he manages all aspects of a 24-provider medical oncology practice with seven medical offices, ambulatory infusion centers, laboratories, and more than 200 employees.
“I'm honored and humbled to serve as President of the Association of Community Cancer Centers, the leading education and advocacy organization for the multidisciplinary cancer care team,” said Gallo.
ACCC has built a strong legacy of presidential themes that address evolving issues in oncology, such as the Oncology Medical Home, quality in oncology care, patient empowerment and provider engagement, and envisioning next generation multidisciplinary cancer care. Gallo hopes to build on his predecessors' contributions with his president's theme of “Reflect, Renew, Reignite: Building a Resilient Cancer Care Team in Your Community.”
“The daily stress of caring for cancer patients can be draining physically, intellectually, and emotionally for every member of the cancer care team—from the receptionists at the front desk to the physicians in whose hands patients place total trust,” said Gallo. “Unfortunately, burnout is a top-of-mind issue for many of us as oncology has become more complex with new and evolving treatment options, growing financial toxicity, and an increasingly burdensome healthcare system, just to name a few of the stressors.”
Through his president's theme, Gallo hopes to work with the ACCC membership to move beyond shared complaints to shared solutions.
“We need to find answers to how we keep our health care teams engaged, and to how we structure our teams and workplace so that all staff can be effective and productive. I know that many ACCC members are already focused on innovations in these areas. Over the coming months I look forward to learning from them and sharing their ideas and insights. Together we can find solutions.”
An active and long-time member of the Association of Community Cancer Centers, Gallo was ACCC President-Elect (2017-2018). He currently serves on the ACCC Governmental Affairs Committee and has previously served on the ACCC Board of Trustees (2004-2005).
Pancreatic Cancer Collective Launched to Accelerate Research
The Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) recently announced at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, SU2C's Scientific Partner, that they are entering into a formal strategic partnership to drive research to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.
The Pancreatic Cancer Collective, funded by the Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer, will accelerate research for pancreatic cancer patients who desperately need better treatments. The initial funding commitment will be $25 million.
Serving as the Collective's scientific leadership are Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp PhD, Chair of the Stand Up To Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and Institute Professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and David Tuveson, MD, PhD, Chief Scientist for the Lustgarten Foundation, Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Cancer Center and the Roy J. Zuckerberg Professor of Cancer Research at CSHL, and also a member of the Stand Up To Cancer SAC.
“This is a watershed moment in the field of pancreatic cancer research,” said Sharp. “Through the Collective, these two organizations are uniquely positioned to engage and influence medical institutions, researchers and companies to achieve meaningful results faster.”
Building on the successful outcomes of their multi-year history, these cancer research organizations will inspire new collaborators; leverage artificial intelligence approaches; improve and develop new diagnosis and treatments for pancreatic cancer; and support the next generation of pancreatic cancer investigators. Engaging thought leaders, researchers, institutions, and companies, the Collective will innovate and accelerate research on the edge of science.
“The Collective will utilize the breadth and expertise of existing SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Research Teams and researchers to support new investigators coming into the field and expand the capacity for additional research,” Tuveson said.
The first request for applications will seek projects focusing on pre-clinical development research to increase the number of innovative and effective therapies to treat pancreatic cancer. The Collective will welcome Teams currently supported by SU2C and the Lustgarten Foundation as well as researchers and institutions new to these organizations and the Collective.
Fox Chase Professor Receives Alumni Award From IRB Barcelona
Joan Font-Burgada, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Cancer Biology program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, was named the winner of the 2018 Alumni of Excellence Award from his alma mater, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona (IRB Barcelona).
The award jury's report recognizes Font-Burgada's work in cancer, specifically his, “important contributions to understanding the development of cancer, in particular, why cancers evolve with mutations that are poorly immunogenic, and also for the identification of special hepatic reparative cells with low propensity to produce cancer.”
Font-Burgada received his PhD in the Cell and Development Biology program at IRB Barcelona in 2010. In 2017 he began his work at Fox Chase, where his lab focuses on cancer and regenerative medicine. Previously, he was the recipient of the NCI Pathway to Independence Award, a grant which helps postdoctoral researchers complete training. He has also been awarded a Hertzberg-Schechter Prize for Stem Cell Research.
“It is an honor to be recognized for my research efforts by my alma mater. This award signifies the importance of the research done by myself and my team and I'm humbled to receive it,” said Font-Burgada.
This is the third year the award has been given. It includes a commemorative certificate, a monetary prize of 2,000 euros, and trip to IRB Barcelona to speak at the Barcelona Biomed seminar series.
Share Your News!
Send information on career developments and cancer center news for this column to email@example.com