ASH Remembers Deborah Christian, New ACCC President, and more

Deborah Christian (1962-2015)

Deborah Christian, publications manager at the American Society of Hematology (ASH), passed away on July 6. In her decade of employment at ASH, Deb held a variety of positions. She provided outstanding support to a host of various editors for Blood, the Image Bank, and the ASH Self-Assessment Program (ASH-SAP). She dealt with almost every facet of the publication process for the various publications she managed and supported – from handling newly submitted manuscripts to copyediting accepted work and everything in between. She always demonstrated the utmost reliability and diligence with regard to her work, all while completing her Masters in Communication. Deb was vivacious, bringing with her a spirit of warmth and good cheer to the ASH office year-round.

University of Florida Health Cancer Center Appoints New Director

Jonathan D. Licht, MD, has been appointed director of the University of Florida Health Cancer Center. His appointment will be effective October 1. Dr. Licht currently serves as the associate director for clinical sciences at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University in Chicago and holds appointments in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as the Johanna Dobe Professor of Hematology/Oncology, chief of the division of hematology/oncology, and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics. Dr. Licht’s career in cancer research spans nearly three decades, including 25 years of funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and other national foundations. Currently, he serves as chief scientific officer of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, on the editorial boards of numerous peer-reviewed cancer journals, and as Councillor on ASH’s Executive Committee. Dr. Licht outlined two goals for his term as director: expanding the center’s basic and translational cancer research and extending investigator-initiated clinical trials.

Source: University of Florida Health Cancer Center press release

Five Physicians Awarded Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards

Each year, the Hastings Center awards the Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards to physicians who have been exemplary in one or more of four areas: medical practice, teaching, research, and community. This year’s awards were given to five physicians in three categories: a senior award and a mid-career award of $25,000 each and three early-career awards of $15,000 apiece.

  • Senior Physician Award: David N. Korones, MD, professor of pediatrics, oncology, and neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, New York
  • Mid-Career Physician Award: Bruce E. Condit, MD, FHM, medical director of palliative care and an attending physician at the Central Maine Medical Center and medical director of Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, in Lewiston, Maine

The three Early-Career Physician Awards were given to:

  • Shaida Talebreza Brandon, MD, FAAHPM, HMDC, a geriatrician and palliative care specialist at the George E. Wahlen Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and medical director of Inspiration Hospice, a hospice and palliative care teaching site for the University of Utah
  • Mary K. Buss, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist and palliative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Laura M. Iglesias Lino, MD, medical director for geriatrics and palliative care at Brightwood Health Center and associate medical director for hospice at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts

Source: The Hastings Center press release

Paul Monahan Receives National Hemophilia Foundation Award

Paul E. Monahan, MD, an associate professor in the department of pediatrics in the division of hematology-oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, received the Leadership in Research Award from the National Hemophilia Foundation. Dr. Monahan was given the award for his accomplishments in scientific research – particularly his work in AAV vectors in gene therapy for factor IX deficiency and for his commitment to volunteer work on behalf of the bleeding disorders community. Dr. Monahan serves as attending physician at UNC’s Comprehensive Hemophilia Diagnostic and Treatment Center and is also a member of the UNC Gene Therapy Center and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Source: University of North Carolina press release

Scientists Receive $15.7 Million to Develop Stem Cell Therapies to Treat Blood Disorders

A group of scientists and transplant clinicians from the Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has been awarded a $15.7 million, four-year research grant from the New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM) to support their approach of expanding and manipulating hematopoietic stem cells to cure acquired and inherited blood disorders. The consortium will conduct two clinical trials using this platform: The first uses the vascular niche to expand umbilical cord blood stem cells for transplantation in patients with blood cancers that cannot be cured by chemotherapy or available donors; the second trial aims to correct the genetic abnormality in blood stem cells from patients with sickle cell anemia and then return these cells to the patients to supply healthy, functioning stem cells. Shahin Rafii, MD, director of Ansary Stem Cell Institute and a professor of medicine, genetic medicine and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell, and Joseph Scandura, MD, hematopoietic stem cell physician-scientist and scientific director of the Richard T. Silver, MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center at Weill Cornell, will serve as co-principal investigators on these trials.

Source: Weill Cornell Medical College press release

New President, Clinical Scientist Awards at the Association of Community Cancer Centers

Steven L. D’Amato, BSPharm, BCOP, has been elected president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). Mr. D’Amato is currently executive director of New England Cancer Specialists in Scarborough, Maine, and clinical associate professor at the University of Tufts College of Medicine. “Each ACCC President selects a theme issue,” Mr. D’Amato noted in a press release. “I’m looking forward to a focus on the oncology medical home – an issue which resonates with the themes of quality and value and the multidisciplinary nature of cancer care delivery.” Mr. D’Amato brings more than 30 years of experience in clinical oncology – both in hospital and private practice settings – to the position, with a focus on pain management, end-of-life care, and oncology practice.

Earlier this year, two researchers received the ACCC’s David King Community Clinical Scientist Award at the organization’s Annual Meeting:

Stuart L. Goldberg, MD, chief of the Division of Leukemia at the John Theurer Cancer Center of Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey and associate clinical professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, received the award to recognize his dedication to cancer research and his efforts to promote the goals of advancing treatment and quality care in oncology.

Eric Lee Raefsky, MD, posthumously received the award for his contributions to clinical trials research, enrolling 40 to 50 patients in clinical trials annually, totaling 1,000 during his career. Dr. Raefsky was a physician at Tennessee Oncology, PLLC for 25 years, serving on the Board of Directors, and most recently, as medical director.

Source: Association of Community Cancer Centers press release

New Appointments at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Candace Johnson, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, has made several new staff appointments:

  • Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, was named Deputy Director of the Institute
  • Boris Kuvshinoff II, MD, MBA, was named Chief Medical Officer
  • Victor Filadora, MD, MBA, was named Chief of Clinical Services
  • Mary Reid, MSPH, PhD, was named Director of Cancer Screening and Survivorship
  • James Mohler, MD, was named Associate Director of Cancer Center Support Grant Shared Resources

Source: Roswell Park Cancer Institute press release

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Opens New Treatment Facility for Children with Cancer and Blood Disorders

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has opened its new Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund Center Clinic and Northwestern Mutual Day Hospital in Milwaukee. The two new areas in the Hospital are designed for the treatment of children with cancer and blood disorders and include 18 exam rooms, a neuropsychiatric testing suite, an activities center, 14 private infusion suites, and a specialized chemotherapy pharmacy.

Source: Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin press release

ECOG-ACRIN Announces Latest Round of Award Winners

The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ECOG-ACRIN) recently awarded its annual Young Investigator and Paul Carbone Fellowship honors:

  • Heather Wakelee, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine, has received this year’s ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Award, which recognizes extraordinary scientific achievements and research leadership contributions made by investigators during the early years of their careers.
  • Valsamo (Elsa) Anagnostou, MD, PhD, has received the 2015 Paul Carbone, MD, Fellowship Award, a $25,000 research grant to support her proposed study to understand what genetic alterations will predict the success of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab in treating patients with lung cancer. Her research will examine the connection between tumor genetics and a patient’s response to immunotherapy.

Source: ECOG-ACRIN news release

Eduardo Sotomayor Appointed Director of George Washington University Cancer Center

Eduardo M. Sotomayor, MD, has been appointed the inaugural director of the George Washington University Cancer Center (GWCC), where he will also be professor of medicine. In this position, Dr. Sotomayor will oversee all aspects of the GWCC, which is scheduled to open next year. Dr. Sotomayor was most recently at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, as scientific director of the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute, as well as the Susan and John Sykes Endowed Chair of Hematologic Malignancies and chair of the Department of Malignant Hematology. Dr. Sotomayor’s primary area of research is immunobiology and immunotherapy of B-cell malignancies, with special emphasis on the design of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for these diseases.

Source: GWCC news release

The Broad Institute Receives $10 Million for Study of Cancer Drug Resistance

The Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard has received a $10 million gift from the Gerstner Family Foundation to expand cancer research at Broad, and to collaborate with Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York. The research will focus on the changes tumors undergo as they become resistant to drugs. The gift will support a two-pronged approach to the problem of cancer drug resistance: First, researchers at Broad will systematically and comprehensively identify the mechanism of drug resistance, using genome-editing technology; and second, those pre-treatment and drug-resistant tumors will be studied in a large trial at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and MSKCC. By comparing the genome sequence of pre-treatment tumors with resistant tumors, researchers hope to identify the mutations that cause resistance. A Broad Institute team will also build on efforts to develop blood-based tumor biopsies to isolate and study rare tumor cells in a patient’s bloodstream.

Source: Broad Institute news release