Richard Pazdur Named Director of Oncology Center of Excellence, Be The Match Foundation® Receives Donation to Support Clinical Trials, and more

Stephen Gottschalk Joins St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Stephen Gottschalk, MD, was named chair of the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He will join St. Jude in August. In this position, Dr. Gottschalk will manage the department’s clinical, research, and educational activities.

Dr. Gottschalk is currently director of the Basic and Translational Research Division at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and has been with the Center of Cell and Gene Therapy and Texas Children’s Cancer Center since 2001.

Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital press release, January 30, 2017.

Jaroslaw Maciejewski Receives Outstanding Investigator Award from National Institutes of Health

Jaroslaw Maciejewski, MD, PhD, from the Department of Translational Hematology and Oncology Research at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, received an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health, an award that provides long-term support to scientists achieving medical breakthroughs.

Dr. Maciejewski will receive more than $5.5 million over the next seven years from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to support his work on translating scientific advances in bone marrow failure syndromes into improved patient care.

“The translation of scientific advances into improved patient care and cures has been the primary goal of my team’s work,” said Dr. Maciejewski. “This award supports our belief that now is the time to advance translational findings to make progress in medical care, including diagnostics and therapeutics for bone marrow failure syndromes.”

Source: Cleveland Clinic press release, January 20, 2017.

Richard Pazdur Named Director of Oncology Center of Excellence

Richard Pazdur, MD, was confirmed as the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE), having served as its interim director since June 2016.

Dr. Pazdur previously served as the director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The OCE was established as part of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, with a goal of expediting the development of oncology-related medical products through a coordinated clinical review of treatment options.

“The FDA is taking important steps to formalize the structure and implementation of the OCE as part of its overarching effort to better address the needs of cancer patients, through reorganization within the FDA’s Office of Medical Products and Tobacco,” former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, said in a statement. “In addition, the FDA’s OCE will improve the agency’s ability to advance oncology-related regulatory science and policy and streamline stakeholder engagement.”

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration press release, January 19, 2017.

Be The Match Foundation® Receives $1.25 Million Donation to Support Clinical Trials

The Be The Match Foundation received a $1.25 million donation to create and promote the Jason Carter Clinical Trials Program, which will help patients with hematologic cancers identify and enroll in clinical trials more efficiently. The donation was given by Robert and Diana Carter in memory of their son, Jason, who died of leukemia four years after being diagnosed; the family believes that participating in clinical trials extended his life.

The new program will include the following initiatives:

  • creating a centralized resource website where patients can learn about clinical trials, including a suite of multimedia tools and a searchable system with summary snapshots to help them find relevant trials
  • hiring a clinical trials education specialist to provide one-on-one support for patients and families
  • promoting physician awareness and education about potential treatment options and clinical trials

Source: Be The Match Foundation news release, January 17, 2017.

Cancer Researchers Elected to the National Academy of Inventors

Yvonne J. Paterson, PhD, professor of microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Nicholas Lawrence, PhD, senior research faculty at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, were elected as fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Academic inventors are elected to the National Academy of Inventors if they have “demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

Dr. Paterson was selected in recognition of her work with a cancer vaccine that exploits the common bacteria Listeria monocytogenes to provoke an immune response to eradicate cancer cells. Dr. Paterson has been issued 32 U.S. patents and numerous foreign patents; 12 possible U.S. patents are under review.

Dr. Lawrence was recognized for his contributions to the field of chemical biology, including the design and synthesis of organic molecules to act as selective anticancer agents targeting a range of processes important in cancer cell biology (signal transduction, tumor angiogenesis, epigenetic gene regulation, and cell cycle control).

Source: Penn Medicine press release, December 19, 2016; Moffitt Cancer Center press release, December 19, 2016.

American Association for Cancer Research Receives Grant to Continue Clinical Trials Workshop

The National Cancer Institute awarded the American Association for Cancer Research a $1.125 million grant to continue providing its Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop, a program that offers clinical fellow and junior faculty clinical researchers the opportunity to learn the essentials of effective oncology clinical trial design.

Nearly 2,100 clinical fellow and junior faculty clinical researchers have attended the workshop over the past 21 years, and the new grant will fund the program over the next five years.

Source: American Association for Cancer Research news release, December 12, 2016.