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Jhon Mendelsohn, MD, has announced plans to step down from his role as president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and will return to a role in clinical and translational research. Once a new president is in place, which he said he expected would be by August, Dr. Mendelsohn, who has led the cancer center for nearly 15 years, will remain a member of the MD Anderson faculty as Co-director of the new Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy (IPCT) along with Gordon Mills, MD, PhD (OT, 11/10/10), Chair of the Department of Systems Biology.

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Among MD Anderson's accomplishments under Dr. Mendelsohn's leadership, are earning more competitive research grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute than any other US cancer center or university; and opening the Lowry and Peggy Mays Clinic, T. Boone Pickens Academic Tower, a Proton Therapy Center, the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment, and a 320-bed expansion of the Alkek Hospital. Dr. Mendelsohn also helped build a world-wide collaborative network of some 20 sister institutions and increased the cancer center's operating budget and private philanthropy donations.

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"Helping to launch the IPCT builds on my career experiences in developing the field of targeted cancer treatment," Dr. Mendelsohn said in a statement. "This position will allow me to continue to work at MD Anderson with people I admire, doing things for which I have great passion."


Dr. Mendelsohn is only the third president in MD Anderson's 70-year history. R. Lee Clark, MD, was president from 1946 to 1978, followed by Charles A. LeMaistre, MD, who was president from 1978 to 1996, when Dr. Mendelsohn started. Ernst W. Bertner, MD, was initial acting director, from 1942 to 1946.


Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, has been appointed Chief of Medical Oncology and Associate Director for Translational Research at Yale Cancer Center. Over the last few years, Dr. Herbst, who serves as Co-principal Investigator of the Biomarker-based Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination Program (BATTLE) trial, has initiated several first-in-man clinical studies with agents such as gefitinib, bevacizumab, erlotinib, and cetuximab.


Dr. Herbst returns to Yale, where he received his undergraduate and master's degrees, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Beginning in March, he will also lead the Section of Medical Oncology at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

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Larry Copeland, MD, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Ohio State University College of Medicine, has been elected to a three-year term as secretary of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society. In this role, Dr. Copeland, who is also the William Greenville Pace III and Joann Norris Collins-Pace Chair for Cancer Research at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, will provide leadership and promote excellence in research, education, and medical practice.


Earlier this year, Dr. Copeland was also elected to a four-year term as president of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


Duke University and the University of Colorado School of Medicine have received a $7.1 million grant from the NIH/National Institute for Nursing Research to create the nation's first palliative care research cooperative group. The group will be led by Amy Abernethy, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke, and Jean Kutner, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado, who led the development of the group's first clinical trial, scheduled to open early this year. The study is designed to determine if discontinuing cholesterol-lowering medications when patients are near the end of life alters their survival or quality of life or leads to any adverse consequences.

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Also at the University of Colorado, two researchers have received a total of $1.625 million in grants to study the role of stem-like breast cancer cells in treatment resistance and recurrence. Carol Sartorius, PhD, Associate Professor of Endocrinology in the School of Medicine, received a $1.25 million grant from NCI to investigate the role of stem-like cells in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. In a paper published ahead of print in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2010, Dr. Sartorius was the first person to show that progesterone regulates a stem-like cell phenotype in breast cancer.

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Dr. Sartorius is also collaborating with Jennifer Richer, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology, on a $375,000 Idea Grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) to narrow down which of a group of microRNAs are involved in changing cells from being differentiated to being stem-like. Peter Kabos, MD, Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology, will also collaborate on the DOD grant.

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Joe Gray, PhD, Co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer Breast Cancer Dream Team, has joined Oregon Health and Science University's (OHSU) Knight Cancer Institute and the School of Medicine. Dr. Gray will head OHSU's newly created Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine and serve as the new Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He will also contribute to OHSU's strategic alliance with Portland State University to elevate research conducted by both institutions. Dr. Gray will be joined at OHSU by members of his current research team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, including genome scientist Paul Spellman, PhD. Dr. Spellman will contribute to research at the Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine and serve as a faculty member in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics.

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OHSU has also recruited Marilyn Owens, PhD, MBA, to serve as Chief Operating Officer of its Knight Diagnostic Laboratories, which will offer tests that create a detailed genetic map of a patient's tumor. Dr. Owens has focused most of her career on cancer diagnostics, previously serving as senior vice president of operations for Caris Life Science. She has also held senior positions at IMPATH Inc., Genzyme Genetics, and the Nichols Institute.

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Bassel El-Rayes, MD, has been appointed Medical Director of the Clinical Trials Office at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. El-Rayes is Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and serves as Director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Translational Research Program at Winship. He joins a team led by Edmund Waller, MD, PhD, Associate Director for Clinical Research at Winship, and Kathleen Rodger, Director of the Clinical Trials Office.

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Also at Emory, Suresh Ramalingam, MD, Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology and Director of Winship's Translational Thoracic Malignancies Program, has been awarded a National Cancer Institute Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award. The award, which includes a two-year, $100,000 grant, recognizes clinical investigators at NCI-designated cancer centers who provide critical leadership and support for institutional and multicenter clinical trials. Dr. Ramalingam serves as the principal investigator of several lung cancer clinical trials, many of which are sponsored by NCI. He also is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Clinician and Scientist.

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Three physicians have joined the faculty at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Andy Andrews, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow from the University of Colorado, and Zeng-jie Yang, MD, PhD, who completed his postdoctoral research in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University, have joined the Cancer Biology Research Program as Assistant Professors.

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Marcia Boraas, MD, has also returned to Fox Chase as an Attending Surgeon in the Department of Surgical Oncology. For the past seven years, Dr. Boraas served as an attending surgeon and clinical associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She began her medical career at Fox Chase in 1983 after completing her residency in general surgery and a clinical fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

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John A. Zaia, MD, the Aaron D. and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy and Chair of the Department of Virology at City of Hope, has been appointed Chair of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee for the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Zaia currently leads several groundbreaking clinical trials, including a study of a cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine intended for both cancer patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation and their cell donors to eliminate the risk of CMV infection. He also leads two clinical projects for AIDS-related lymphoma patients to develop new therapies which have the potential to treat the HIV infection as well as their cancer. Dr. Zaia's term runs through July 2011.

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University Hospitals (UH), Cleveland, OH, has received a $42 million donation from local philanthropists Jane and Lee Seidman. As a result of the gift, which is the largest in the health system's history, UH's new freestanding cancer hospital set to open in spring 2011, and its network of nine outpatient cancer programs in the region, will be named the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. The donation kicks off the health system's public fundraising campaign, Discover the Difference: the Campaign for University Hospitals, aimed at raising $1 billion toward enhancing patient-centered care.

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