Monticciolo is Vice Chair of the Department of Radiology (for research) and Section Chief of Breast Imaging at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple. She is also Professor of Radiology Texas A&M University.
She is the Immediate-Past Chair of the ACR Commission on Breast Imaging and Past President of the Society of Breast Imaging. Monticciolo has served two terms on the FDA National Mammography Quality Assurance Advisory Committee.
“Dr. Monticciolo is an internationally recognized expert in breast imaging and a longtime advocate for increased access to high-quality care for women and their families. She has shown outstanding leadership in every role in which she has served within the ACR and elsewhere in medicine,” said ACR Board of Chancellors Chair Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR. “The ACR will be well-represented by Dr. Monticciolo and the entire group of dedicated physician volunteers elected ACR officers this week.”
ACR Vice President Macura, a fellow of the ACR, is Professor of Radiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Professor of Oncology and Urology at Johns Hopkins Medical School. She also leads the Imaging Core of the JHU Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. Macura is the former co-chair of the ACR Commission on Women and Diversity, a member of the ACR Advanced Prostate Imaging and Targeted Therapy Committee, and former member of the ACR Artificial Intelligence Advisory Group.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Honors Native American Researcher at Roswell Park
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center faculty researcher Rodney Haring, PhD, MSW, has been recognized with a Research Into Action Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) New Connections initiative.
Presented at a capstone symposium in New Orleans, the award symbolizes what Haring has accomplished as a New Connections grantee with his contributions and success in the field. For example, he began a project in 2010 that looked at childhood obesity and oral health within Native American communities.
“I was not at all surprised to hear that Rodney would be recognized by such a prestigious organization,” said Christine Ambrosone, PhD, Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention at the cancer center and head of the department Haring works in. “He's done so much to not only identify challenges and problems that get in the way of good health, but to find solutions that will help to address the issues he identifies.”
New Connections was established by RWJF in 2005 to provide grants and additional opportunities for scholars from historically disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds. An enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Haring focuses on research that reflects endemic health disparities. He credits the initiative as a foundation in his career as a scientist, researcher, and community member.
UCLA Urology Professor Elected to National Association
Christopher Saigal, MD, Professor of Urology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has been elected to the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons in recognition of his accomplishments in the field. The association appointed him during its April 2019 meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Saigal's award-winning research in the field of shared decision-making for prostate cancer—for which he's received funding from NCI—focuses on empowering men to make informed treatment choices with which they're more satisfied.
Saigal, who is a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, also created an online software program that collects information about people with prostate cancer and predicts prognoses with various treatments.
The program, called WiserCare, enables people to input answers to questions and scenarios about their preferences and personal values. It then uses an algorithm to develop a ranked list of individualized treatment options appropriate for the patient in light of those values.
Only 75 physicians in North America may serve as active members of the association at any given time. With Saigal's appointment, six UCLA urologists now hold active membership.
NCI Grant Awarded to Investigate Immune Responses in Pancreatic Cancer
The NCI has awarded a 5-year grant of more than $2.2 million to UNC Lineberger's Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta, PhD, to support her research into the immune response in pancreatic cancer.
“Understanding the role of immune regulation in pancreatic cancer represents a crucial stepping stone on our way to advancing care for these patients,” said Pylayeva-Gupta, Assistant Professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Genetics. “In addition to furthering our basic understanding of tumor immunobiology, we hope this research will help guide the field toward the design of B-cell targeted therapies against pancreatic cancer.”
Pancreatic cancer has proven to be extremely difficult to treat, with just 9.3 percent of patients living 5 years following diagnosis. Checkpoint inhibitors have been effective in treating some cancers. While scientists have discovered there are immune cells often within pancreatic cancer tumors, responses to immune-based treatments have been ineffective in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
“While recent successes of cancer immunotherapy have generated considerable excitement, this form of treatment has largely been ineffective in patients with pancreatic cancer,” Pylayeva-Gupta said. “A major barrier for immunotherapeutic approaches is immune suppression instigated by pancreatic tumor and stromal cells.”
Previously, her laboratory discovered that interleukin-35 plays a role in suppressing cancer-fighting immune cells in pancreatic cancer. This molecule—a cytokine—is produced by B cells.
The researchers will use the grant to investigate the mechanism behind the effect of IL-35 on the immune system in pancreatic cancer, and to identify treatment targets at which to direct a combination of current and novel immunotherapies.
“We have identified IL-35-producing B cells as important regulators of anti-tumor immune responses in pancreatic cancer,” Pylayeva-Gupta said. “Our proposed research will shed light on the mechanisms by which these cells elicit pancreatic tumor growth and will provide us with novel therapeutic targets that could be used to synergize with existing immunotherapeutic approaches.”
Clinical Cancer Geneticist Embraces New Role at Fox Chase Cancer Center
Michael Hall, MD, MS, has been named Chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics at Fox Chase Cancer Center. An Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Genetics, Hall will continue to serve in his other roles at the center that includes Director of Gastrointestinal Risk Assessment, as well as a member of the NCCN's Genetic Colorectal/Colorectal Cancer Screening Panel member.
“Dr. Hall has served our institution in an outstanding fashion for a number of years. Recognized among America's Top Doctors by Castle Connolly and our region's Top Doctors by Philadelphia magazine, he is well-regarded by professional peers and patients alike,” said Richard I. Fisher, MD, President & CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center.
As both an oncologist and a clinical cancer geneticist, Hall brings a valuable combination of experience to the department. He focuses his research and clinical work on cancers of the gastrointestinal tract with particular interest in colorectal, pancreatic, and small bowel cancers.
In addition, he has specialized expertise in risk assessment for gastrointestinal, endocrine, and genitourinary cancers. In his practice, he sees a variety of patients, including young people who tend to have hereditary cancers, and consistently approaches each case with a great appreciation for the unique diagnosis and needs of the patient.
As chair, Hall will lead the department, building on the legacy of his predecessor Mary Daly, MD, founding Director of Fox Chase Cancer Center's Risk Assessment Program, and further bolstering the strength of the facility's clinical and research programs, cultivating new and innovative initiatives and promoting the development of the faculty and staff.
UAB Researchers Receive Grant to Study Blood Cancers, Blood Marrow Transplantation
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been awarded a $6.38 million grant from the NCI to determine the long-term burden of morbidity borne by blood cancer patients treated with or without blood or marrow transplantation, or BMT.
“Survival rates after BMT are improving at the rate of 10 percent per decade—steady improvements in outcome have resulted in a growing number of BMT survivors, a population uniquely vulnerable to long-term life-threatening chronic morbidity,” said Smita Bhatia, MD, principal investigator on the study, Director of the Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship, and senior scientist in the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. “A better understanding of post-BMT health care needs could result in the deployment of targeted strategies that yield better quality of survival and reduced utilization of health care resources.”
The study will construct a cohort of more than 10,000 patients treated with BMT between 1974 and 2014 at three transplant sites—UAB, University of Minnesota, and City of Hope—as well as a cohort of 3,000 patients treated with conventional therapy without BMT, which will amount to the largest cohort ever studied.
In addition to ascertaining the burden of morbidity borne by blood cancer patients treated with or without BMT, study results will be used to understand the mechanisms and development of treatment-related health conditions in the context of accelerated aging, an outcome seen in cancer patients. Understanding how high-intensity treatment exposures used for BMT, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, cause late effects can help in the development targeted treatments for survivors.
“Accelerated aging is a constellation of criteria, one of which is the premature occurrence of the chronic health conditions that are typically seen in older populations,” Bhatia said. “It is not clear what contributes to accelerated aging—we speculate that both the cancer and its treatment do so, and we will be studying this in greater detail.”
Vanderbilt Launches New Telehealth Program for CAR-T Patients
Some cancer patients receiving CAR-T infusions can now avoid hospital stays because of a telemedicine program launched by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. The program doesn't offer long-distance care, but it does offer close-proximity monitoring.
Instead of being confined to a hospital room for a week or longer, patients stay within 30 miles of Vanderbilt University Medical Center—close enough to receive care quickly if complications occur. “Our goal is to use technology to do what is best for the patient,” said Olalekan Oluwole, MBBS, MPH.
Patients must still report to the hospital for twice-daily clinical visits before they receive a nightly telemedicine checkup in their homes or hotel rooms. A team of Vanderbilt clinicians and technology experts designed the protocols for the CAR-T telemedicine service, which could be a prototype for other cancer centers.
“With this being new, we had to build in extra safety mechanisms, so we decided to provide this to only those patients staying sufficiently close by,” Oluwole said.
Matt Ryan, senior project manager with VUMC Telehealth, consulted with clinicians to learn what was needed and leveraged a newly streamlined process utilizing a video conferencing platform. The encounters can occur with multiple types of devices, ranging from smartphones to laptops, through My Health at Vanderbilt.
Since some patients can experience serious complications, CAR-T is limited to cancer centers with clinicians experienced in recognizing and managing those complications. Patients need to be monitored most closely for the first month after receiving the one-time CAR-T infusion, Oluwole said. Potential complications include cytokine release syndrome and neurological toxicities. Both can be life-threatening.
Sarah Murawski, PA, did the first telemedicine consult in January with a patient who had received a CAR-T infusion. She and two nurse practitioners, who also do telemedicine assessments, work closely with Oluwole and Michael Byrne, DO, the physicians who provide CAR-T therapy.
“We go through the whole visit and ask the patients if there are any concerns,” Murawski said. “We also carry a special cell phone all night. They can call us with literally any question they want to ask—if they're feeling anxious, if they're feeling nauseous, whatever it may be.”
Besides using hospital-grade equipment to take their vitals under the supervision of Murawski and her colleagues, the patients answer a series of questions and complete some exercises to measure neurocognitive function.
One of those exercises requires patients to draw the hands of a clock along with the accompanying numbers on a screen. Setting up the system required more interaction between the first patient and the person on the technology end than typically occurs.
“This was different for me because usually I just see the patient for about 30 seconds on the screen during a first telemedicine visit,” Ryan said. “Then I get out of the way and let the clinicians do their thing. With this first patient, I went to the clinic, met the patient, and went through the set up on her device with her. It really brought a face to the care. I got to see very clearly who this was impacting.”Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
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