NCCN Awards Latest Round of Young Investigators, and more

NCCN Awards Latest Round of Young Investigators With $150,000 Grants

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Foundation has awarded grants to six young investigators from NCCN Member Institutions. These awardees represent the fifth series of the NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards, a program initiated in 2011. The grants will provide $150,000 in funding over a two-year period, beginning in July 2015.

All awardees responded to a Request for Proposal issued by the NCCN Foundation, and all submissions were reviewed by a multidisciplinary panel of oncology experts. Awardees were selected based on several key components, including scientific merit and study design. The following are the 2015 NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards recipients:

  • James Blachly, MD, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute: “Genomic Stratification and Prognostication of Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia by Combination Mutation Status”
  • Roisin Connolly, MB, BCh, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins: “Harnessing the Immune System to Treat Breast Cancer: Novel Mechanisms of Resistance and Treatment Strategies”
  • Areej El-Jawahri, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center: “A Multimodal Intervention to Address Sexual Dysfunction in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Survivors”
  • Douglas Johnson, MD, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center: “Survivorship in Patients Receiving Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors”
  • Todd Morgan, MD, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center: “Tissue-Based Genomics for Risk Stratification in Localized Renal Cell Carcinoma”
  • Alpa Nick, MD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: “Matched Pair Pharmacodynamics and Feasibility Study of Pembrolizumab in Combination with Chemotherapy in Frontline Ovarian Cancer”

Source: NCCN press release


Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Named NCCN Member Institute

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) announced that Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, which includes University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, has been elected to institutional membership – joining 25 other member institutions throughout the United States. “Case Comprehensive Cancer Center brings to NCCN unique and valuable attributes, including a robust genomics program and clinical research operational infrastructure, that indeed will enhance the already extraordinary collaboration of the alliance,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, the NCCN’s chief executive officer. “We look forward to working with their renowned experts and leadership to further the NCCN mission, support and enhance evidence-based decision-making, and promote the importance of continuous process improvement.” “Our centers join an elite set of nationally recognized cancer centers that set the standards for exceptional cancer care, coordinated cancer services, and top-of-mind guidelines for patient management,” said Stanton Gerson, MD, director of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “

Source: NCCN press release


Roswell Park Cancer Institute Appoints New Leadership

In February 2015, Candace S. Johnson, PhD, started her tenure as the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s fifteenth (and first female) president and chief executive officer. In April, Dr. Johnson, who acted as interim president and CEO since October 2014, when Donald Trump, MD, retired from the position, announced several new appointments within the Institute’s staff, including:

  • Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, named as Deputy Director
  • Boris Kuvshinoff II, MD, MBA, named Chief Medical Officer
  • Victor Filadora, MD, MBA, named Chief of Clinical Services
  • Everett Weiss, MD, named Chief Medical Information Officer

Source: Roswell Park Cancer Institute press release


Ruben Mesa Elected Chair of Arizona Cancer Coalition

Ruben Mesa, MD, professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School and chair of the division of hematology/oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, was unanimously elected to serve as the next chair of the Arizona Cancer Coalition. The Coalition, housed in the Arizona Department of Health, seeks to improve the systems and policies of cancer prevention, increase the appropriate utilization of cancer screenings, catalyze research, and reduce disparities in cancer care. “I am hopeful as we anticipate an era of unprecedented hope, collaboration and scientific teamwork for decreasing the burden of cancer amongst Arizonans and that the Arizona Cancer Coalition will play an important role in these efforts,” Dr. Mesa said.

Source: Mayo Clinic press release


Douglas Lowy Named the Acting Director of the NCI

Douglas Lowy, MD, was officially named the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Acting Director. Since July 2010, Dr. Lowy has served as NCI’s deputy director, helping lead NCI’s key scientific initiatives since that time. He replaces Harold Varmus, MD, who stepped down from his post on March 31, 2015, after nearly five years as the NCI’s director. Dr. Lowy, a cancer researcher for more than 40 years, was involved in the initial development, characterization, and clinical testing of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.  “We are fortunate to have a scientist of such stature stepping into the role of Acting Director of the NCI,” said National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “Dr. Lowy possesses not only a sharp intellect, deep knowledge of science, and proven leadership experience, but he takes a warm and humane approach to all things. He is superbly positioned to lead the NCI at a time of exceptional progress in cancer research.”

Recently, Dr. Lowy also received the Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine, which was established in 2014 by the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals and the American Society for Clinical Investigation to recognize a physician-scientist who has successfully navigated the path to advance discovery into clinical application. Dr. Lowy was recognized for his key discoveries that led to the development of the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer.

Source: National Cancer Institute, University Hospitals’ press release


Mount Sinai Receives $8.8 Million Grant to Further Stem Cell Research

The New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM) has awarded an $8.8 million grant to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to develop new stem cell-based treatments for chemotherapy-resistant blood cancer and other genetic blood disorders. Researchers at Mount Sinai have developed a method to increase the number of collected stem cells 35-fold; the grant is expected to advance these ongoing research efforts and move it ahead to clinical trials. Ronald Hoffman, MD, Albert A. and Vera G. List Professor of Medicine in Hematology and Medical Oncology, professor of Gene and Cell Medicine, and director of the Myeloproliferative Disorders Research Program, will head this research project.

Source: Mount Sinai Medical Center press release


OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Names Raymond Bergan as Leader of Hematology and Medical Oncology

Raymond Bergan, MD, will lead Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU’s) Hematology & Medical Oncology division in the School of Medicine and associate director of medical oncology for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Dr. Bergan, formerly of Northwestern University, is known for leading breakthrough studies that expanded the understanding of how early-stage cancer cells transform to travel throughout the body. There, Dr. Bergan’s laboratory was the first to use drugs to target this form of disease progression in humans. At the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Dr. Bergan will establish a research laboratory continuing this work. His research priorities as associate director will focus on providing highly tailored treatments to patients.

Source: OHSU press release

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