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Robert Coffey Jr., MD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University, has received a five-year, $5.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the role of extracellular RNA in colorectal cancer. The grant is part of the NIH's Extracellular RNA Communication Program, which is supported by the NIH Common Fund and led by a team representing five different NIH institutes and centers.

Figure. Shop Talk... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Shop Talk
ROBERT COFFEY JR., M... - Click to enlarge in new windowROBERT COFFEY JR., MD. ROBERT COFFEY JR., MD

His lab will work with two teams of investigators from the University of California, San Francisco, and one team each from Massachusetts General Hospital and Rockefeller University to examine the mechanisms of exRNA biogenesis (production), distribution, and function and the role that altered biogenesis of secreted RNAs in vesicles may play during the progression of colon cancer.


Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has been appointed to the Lloyd J. Old/Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation there. He also serves as Director of Immunotherapeutics in the Center for Mechanism-Based Therapy at MSKCC and Associate Attending Physician in the Melanoma-Sarcoma Service at the Ludwig Center at MSKCC, where he also directs clinical trials and immune monitoring. And, Wolchok also serves as Associate Director of the Cancer Research Institute Scientific Advisory Council and Director of the CRI-Ludwig CVC Trials Network.

JEDD D. WOLCHOK, MD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowJEDD D. WOLCHOK, MD, PHD. JEDD D. WOLCHOK, MD, PHD

This new appointment honors CRI's longtime scientific and medical director Lloyd J. Old, MD, whose cancer immunotherapy work provided much of the foundation of the field today, and it also honors Daniel Ludwig and his wife Virginia, whose support has funded more than $1 billion in cancer research since the 1970s.


"Lloyd's scientific tenacity and careful, methodical experimentation in both the laboratory and the clinic have already resulted in many lives being saved and innumerable avenues of scientific investigation being opened. I am very grateful to Lloyd and surely hope to carry on my career in this same remarkable spirit," Wolchok said during a reception to recognize the appointment, hosted by MSKCC in July.


Norman "Ned" Sharpless, MD, has been appointed Director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, succeeding H. Shelton Earp, MD. Sharpless will begin the new role in January, and Earp will continue to serve as Director of UNC Cancer Care, coordinating cancer care and research across the School of Medicine, the University, and UNC Health Care System.


"Ned is the ideal leader to carry forward Dr. Joe Pagano's and Dr. Shelley Earp's legacy of distinguished leadership," Edward Benz, MD, President of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a member of the University Cancer Research Fund Committee, said in a news release. "He possesses the academic talent and stature, the personal qualities, the vision, and the energy to make certain that UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center plays its leading role in the campaign to conquer cancer."

NORMAN NED SHARPLESS... - Click to enlarge in new windowNORMAN "NED" SHARPLESS, MD. Norman "Ned" Sharpless, MD

Sharpless currently serves as the Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Medicine and Genetics, and UNC Lineberger Deputy Director. He leads a 20-person cancer research lab, where his work focuses on using genetically engineered mouse models to study cancer and aging. He has won numerous foundation awards, and serves as an editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Aging Cell.


Walter Stadler, MD, has been named Chief of the Section of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago Medicine. He began the role in August, and succeeds Richard Schilsky, MD, who moved to be the inaugural Chief Medical Officer for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (OT, 12/25/12).


"Walt Stadler has demonstrated exceptional leadership and thoughtful academic vision for the section," Everett Vokes, MD, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, said in a news release.

WALTER STADLER, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowWALTER STADLER, MD. WALTER STADLER, MD

In addition, Schilsky (@rschilsky) tweeted his well wishes on the day of the appointment: "Congratulations to Walt Stadler! Proud to watch his transition from trainee to colleague to leader."


Stadler has been a member of the faculty for 20 years, he also currently serves as the Fred C. Buffet Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Clinical Research there, and has served as interim section chief since January.


Stadler's research has focused on innovative treatments for urological cancers as well as clinical trial design. His work led to the better understanding of several anti-cancer agents, including sorafenib, sunitinib, pazopanib, and axitinib. He collaborated with colleagues to help develop the "randomized discontinuation trial," a novel approach that is increasingly used to evaluate promising new drugs. He also helped develop new ways to monitor the effects of antiangiogenic therapy, including the use of dynamic contrast enhanced MRI.


Stadler has also written several articles for OT about: the key genitourinary cancer takeaways from recent ASCO Annual Meetings (7/10/12 issue and 8/25/11 issue) and the treatment of newly diagnosed metastatic renal cancer (10/25/10 issue).


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has earmarked $5.5 million for the creation of the Donald Pinkel Endowed Chair of Pediatric Cancer Treatment. The endowment, among the largest in the country, was created in honor of the hospital's first director. The endowment's first designee will be William E. Evans, PharmD, St. Jude's current Director and CEO, and the funding will support Evans' research and academic programs.


"I am deeply honored to be named the first Donald Pinkel Endowed Chair," Evans said in a news release. "When I first came to St. Jude in 1972 as a student, Dr. Pinkel was the director, and he was a person whom everyone looked up to, largely because he did not expect more out of others than he expected from himself. He led by example. I respected him because of what he had already accomplished, and because he was interested in hearing everyone's ideas."


Evans' work focuses on better understanding the genomic basis of childhood cancers and developing individualized approaches to cancer treatment, which involves the translation of pharmacogenomics discoveries into personalized treatments for pediatric cancers.


The American Society for Radiation Oncology has selected seven researchers to receive a total of $675,000 to fund studies in radiation and cancer biology, radiation physics, translational research, outcomes/health services research, and comparative effectiveness research within radiation oncology.


"ASTRO is proud to foster each of these outstanding researchers in their professional growth and to support their efforts to advance cancer care, particularly as it relates to radiation oncology," ASTRO Chairman Michael L. Steinberg, MD, FASTRO, said in a news release. The following awards were planned to be presented at the just-concluded Annual Meeting (Sept. 22-25 in Atlanta).


* The Junior Faculty Career Research Training Award ($100,000 annually for two years), to each: Joseph Mancias, MD, PhD, of Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, to evaluate the use of autophagy inhibition to make pancreatic cancer cells more susceptible to radiation therapy; and Terence Williams, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, for his work on targeting intrinsic KRAS mutant radioresistance with novel RAS targeted therapies.


* The ASTRO Resident/Fellows in Radiation Oncology Research Seed Grant ($25,000) to each: Andrew Sharabi, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, to research the effect of strategic radiation use combined with novel immunotherapy agents on improved clinical outcomes as a result of radiation-induced antigen-specific immune responses; Gregory Gan, MD, PhD, of the University of Colorado Denver, for his work examining the Hedgehog Pathway; and Darrion Mitchell, MD, PhD, a radiation oncologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, for his research on the use of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.


* And, the first ASTRO/Radiation Oncology Institute Comparative Effectiveness Research Award ($50,000 annually for two years) to each: Timothy Showalter, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, to conduct individualized comparative effectiveness research for prostate cancer treatment to better inform patients faced with adjuvant radiation therapy decisions immediately following radical prostatectomy; and Karen Hoffman, MD, MHSc, MPH, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to research the impact of radiotherapy practice structure on prostate cancer treatment costs and outcomes.



The Susan G. Komen Foundation has awarded $1.4 million in grant funding to five Indiana University School of Medicine faculty members and researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center:


* Sunil Badve, MD, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, was awarded $225,000 to develop genetic tests that can more accurately predict the likelihood of recurrence and long-term prognosis for people with estrogen receptor positive tumors.

SUNIL BADVE, MD. SUN... - Click to enlarge in new windowSUNIL BADVE, MD. SUNIL BADVE, MD
THERESA GUISE, MD. T... - Click to enlarge in new windowTHERESA GUISE, MD. THERESA GUISE, MD

* Theresa Guise, MD, the Jerry W. and Peggy S. Throgmartin Professor of Oncology and Professor of Medicine, was awarded $225,000 for her work to identify the mechanisms causing breast cancer-associated muscle dysfunction and how they relate to decreases in muscle mass.


* Kathy Miller, MD, the Ballve Lantero Scholar in Oncology and Associate Professor of Medicine, was awarded $175,000 for a clinical trial to investigate novel therapies that could prevent recurrence of triple- negative breast cancer after a woman's initial treatment for the disease.


* Harikrishna Nakshatri, PhD, the Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research and Professor of Surgery and Biochemistry, was awarded $225,000 to study "dependence receptors," the class of proteins in estrogen-positive tumors that-when paired with specific partner proteins-aid in the proliferation of cancer cells. The research is intended to be used to develop inhibitors to interrupt the pairing and stop tumor growth.


* Bryan Schneider, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and of Medical and Molecular Genetics, was awarded $62,500 for continuing work to identify genetic markers that will help doctors identify patients who will have adverse reactions to taxane therapies for breast cancer.


* The Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center received $500,000 in funding for the collection of normal breast tissue from women in Kenya to help understand the underlying biology and genetic issues that lead to more aggressive forms of breast cancer and higher mortality rates from breast cancer in women of African descent.



Michele Ley, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona, has been appointed Director of the Breast Surgery Program at the UA Cancer Center to direct breast surgical services and oversee the development of collaborative breast surgical research and educational initiatives.

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MICHELE LEY, MD. MIC... - Click to enlarge in new windowMICHELE LEY, MD. MICHELE LEY, MD

Mary T. Martucci, DO, has joined CentraState Healthcare System in New Jersey as Medical Director of its comprehensive breast care program. She specializes in surgical treatment of breast cancer and other diseases of the breast. She most recently served as a surgical breast oncologist at St. Peter's University Hospital. And, she has also served as Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Kennedy Health System and Director of the Breast Cancer Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, N.J.

MARY T. MARTUCCI, DO... - Click to enlarge in new windowMARY T. MARTUCCI, DO. MARY T. MARTUCCI, DO

The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group has announced two new scientific leadership appointments:


* Mark R. Litzow, MD, Chair of the Myeloid Disease Group in the Division of Hematology and Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, has been appointed Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Leukemia Committee, replacing Martin S. Tallman, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and

MARK R. LITZOW, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMARK R. LITZOW, MD. MARK R. LITZOW, MD

* Peter J. O'Dwyer, MD, Director of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, has been appointed Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Gastrointestinal Committee, replacing Al B. Benson, III, MD, FACP, of Northwestern University.



Charles and Daneen Stiefel, of Raleigh, N.C., have pledged $10 million to the Head and Neck Cancer Center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which will be renamed in the couple's honor as the Charles and Daneen Stiefel Center for Head and Neck Cancer.

PETER J. ODWYER, MD.... - Click to enlarge in new windowPETER J. O'DWYER, MD. PETER J. O'DWYER, MD

Charles Stiefel, former Chair and CEO of Stiefel Laboratories, is a member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors and is active on a committee that advises the institution on clinical business issues. The couple also established the Charles and Daneen Stiefel Chair in Cancer Research in 2009 with a $1 million gift in gratitude for the care Charles received as an MD Anderson patient after being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in 2006.

CHARLES AND DANEEN S... - Click to enlarge in new windowCHARLES AND DANEEN STIEFEL. Charles and Daneen Stiefel

"I literally owe my life to the physicians and staff, which is why Daneen and I feel humbled and thankful to be able to make this gift. Dr. Weber has conceived several game-changing ideas to improve patient outcomes for future generations, and I'm confident that this gift will help transform these ideas into reality," Stiefel said in a news release.


The gift will support research and treatment programs within the Head and Neck Cancer Program under the direction of Randal S. Weber, MD, MD Anderson's Chair of Head and Neck Surgery, to help speed efforts to promote and rapidly translate oropharyngeal cancer research into more effective treatments with fewer side effects.


ASH Awards Second Round of Bridge Grants

The American Society of Hematology has named the recipients of its second round of ASH Bridge Grants to fund critical research deemed excellent by the National Institutes of Health, but not able to be funded due to the $1.6 billion sequestration-related reduction in federal funding. To help sustain crucial blood disease research during this crisis, in July 2012 ASH committed $9 million in Society funds to create this grant program, intended to provide researchers with interim support to continue their hematology research that would otherwise not be (OT, 8/25/12).


ASH's one-year, $100,000 bridge grants allow basic, clinical, and translational hematology researchers whose NIH R01 series grant applications scored well but missed the funding cutoff point to continue their critical work.


"The unfortunate reality is that hematologists will require support from outside of NIH to continue moving biomedical innovation forward," said ASH President Janis Abkowitz, MD, Hematology Division Head, Clement A. Finch Professor of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. "ASH was proud to provide that needed support in the form of bridge grants to nearly 30 projects in our first year."


The second round of Bridge Grant recipients include:

JANIS ABKOWITZ, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowJANIS ABKOWITZ, MD. Janis Abkowitz, MD

* Utpal P. Dave, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center;


* Jianguo Tao, MD, PhD, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center;


* X. Long Zheng, MD, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia;


* Lucio H. Castilla, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School;


* Michael J. Thirman, MD, The University of Chicago;


* Carl D. Novina, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute;


* Paul A. Ney, MD, New York Blood Center;


* Edmund K. Waller, MD, PhD, Emory University;


* Vijay M. Rao, PhD, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler;


* Robert F. Paulson, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University;


* Seth J. Corey, MD, Northwestern University; and


* Giuseppina Nucifora, PhD, The University of Illinois at Chicago.



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