LRF Awards Grants, NCI Awards UT Southwestern Funding, and more

LRF Awards Grants to Study Lymphoma in Adolescent, Young Adult Patients

As part of a partnership with The Paul Foundation on Critical Adolescent and Young Adult Initiative, the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) has awarded its first research grant focused solely on combating lymphoma in the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population. The two-year, $100,000 grant was awarded to David Scott, MD, MBChB, of the British Columbia Cancer Agency, who will serve as the grant’s principal investigator. Using biopsies from 241 AYA patients who participated in a recently completed clinical trial, Dr. Scott and his collaborators will test the relationship between these tests – which were shown to identify patients at high risk of poor outcomes – and the PET scan to see whether choices between treatments can be made at diagnosis, resulting in a “risk-stratified” approach.

Source: Lymphoma Research Foundation press release

Theodore Lawrence Named Director of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center

Theodore S. Lawrence, MD, PhD, has been named the director of the University of Michigan Com-prehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Lawrence succeeds Max S. Wicha, MD, who founded the cancer center 27 years ago.

“This is a tremendous program with talented and dedicated faculty and staff, a terrific research infrastructure and superb core facilities,” said Dr. Lawrence, who is also chair of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

In addition to continuing to advance the Cancer Center’s research excellence, Dr. Lawrence plans to grow the center’s statewide presence as part of an effort to bring cancer care closer to home.

Source: University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center press release

NCI Awards UT Southwestern Funding to Establish First U.S. Center for Heavy Ion Radiation Therapy

University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center is leading a Texas consortium of researchers to establish the country’s first National Center for Heavy Ion Radiation Therapy that could provide clinical care and research using heavy particles for innovative new cancer treatments. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health awarded UT Southwestern a $1 million planning grant to develop research proposals for the center. Hak Choy, MD, chair and professor of radiation oncology at UT Southwestern, is principal investigator for the Texas award.

“Heavy ion radiation therapy represents the next quantum leap forward in cancer care. It is not available in the United States, and our location would be the first of its kind in the country,” said Dr. Choy. The National Center for Heavy Ion Radiation Therapy is targeted for completion in 2021.

Source: UT Southwestern press release

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Champion of Biomedical Research Funding, to Retire

On March 2, 2015, the Honorable Barbara Mikulski, a strong advocate for biomedical research funding, announced that she will retire from Congress at the end of her term in 2016. During her five terms and nearly 30 years in office, Sen. Mikulski was a great supporter of sustained biomedical research funding to improve the quality of American healthcare. In recognition of her significant efforts to increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, last December ASH honored Sen. Mikulski with its Public Service Award, an award presented to an elected official who has demonstrated unparalleled leadership on issues of importance to hematology research and practice.

Source: ASH press release

Meir Wetzler, MD (1954 – 2015)

Meir Wetzler, MD, Chief of the Leukemia Section and Medical Director of Clinical Services in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park, passed away unexpectedly on February 23, 2015.

Originally from Israel, Dr. Wetzler earned his medical degree from Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem and did his residency in internal medicine at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot before coming to the United States.

From 1988-1992 he served two fellowships — in clinical immunology / biologic therapy and medical oncology — at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He joined the Leukemia Division of RPCI in 1994. He was named numerous times to the Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. list of America’s Top Doctors.

In addition to serving on the Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) Treatment Committee of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), helping set the standard of care for CML patients, Dr. Wetzler was an active ASH member. Since becoming a member in 1993, he was a Consult-a-Colleague volunteer, a member of the Scientific Committee on Lymphoid Neoplasia, and a current reviewer and author for Blood. 

Dr. Wetzler is survived by his wife, Chana, and their four children: daughters Mor and Shira, and sons Adam and Modi.

From Alex A. Adjei, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine; Senior Vice-President for Clinical Research; Katherine Anne Gioia Chair in Cancer Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute:

“Meir joined Roswell Park in 1994, and has been a colleague and friend to many of us. He was selflessly dedicated to RPCI and cared about the success, vitality and growth of the Institute with great passion. He was integrally involved in all aspects of institutional activity. Meir was dedicated to the teaching of medical students, residents and fellows. Here are some highlights of the many roles he played in our lives: He oversaw clinical activities departmentally and co-chaired the Ambulatory Services Executive Committee. He co-chaired the Scientific Review Committee and Chaired the Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee. Meir also oversaw the leukemia tissue bio-repository and ran a research laboratory. In addition to doing all of this, he carried a full clinical load and took outstanding care of his patients. Meir touched us all in so many different ways; Roswell Park has lost a dedicated son. All of us who worked with him and interacted with him are better people because we knew Meir. He will be sorely missed.”

Read more about Dr. Wetzler’s life and the impact he had on his patients and colleagues at Roswell Park.