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Raymond C. Bergan, MD, the DeArmond Chair of Cancer Research, Chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, and Associate Director for Medical Oncology for the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute, as well as OHSU Professor of Medicine, has been elected Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group's Prevention Committee. He succeeds Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, formerly of Emory University, who resigned the position earlier this year to become president of the American University of Beirut (OT 6/10/15 issue).


Indiana University School of Medicine has received a five-year, $12 million national Specialized Programs of Research Excellence grant from the National Cancer Institute to to develop new treatments for diseases driven by mutations to the NF1 gene, including neurofibromatosis type 1, which leads to disfiguring and life-threatening tumors and other developmental disorders, mainly in children. The project is the first SPORE grant to focus on pediatric cancers.

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RAYMOND C. BERGAN, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowRAYMOND C. BERGAN, MD. RAYMOND C. BERGAN, MD

D. Wade Clapp, MD, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and a member of both the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center and the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, will be corresponding principal investigator for the project.


Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven have received an $11 million NCI SPORE grant to launch a new research program in non-small cell lung cancer.

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"The only way to approach a problem as big as lung cancer is to have experts in basic, translational, and clinical research working on several fronts taking the research from the lab to the clinic and back again to develop even newer insights," the project's principal investigator, Roy S. Herbst, MD, the Ensign Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Medical Oncology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, and Associate Director for the Translational Research Program at Yale Cancer Center, said in a news release.


"This effort represents tremendous teamwork by investigators to combat this very common and all-too-fatal disease."

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The SPORE will conduct projects in immunotherapy, precision medicine, drug development, and smoking cessation. Teams will also work to identify new translational research avenues, and train young physician-researchers for careers in lung cancer. Frank J. Slack, PhD, Director of the Institute for RNA Medicine at the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, will co-lead a project examining microRNAs as therapeutics for lung cancer.


The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University has been awarded a new $11 million, five-year NCI SPORE grant to continue its multicenter research consortium focusing on prostate cancer, which was first funded in 2001. William Catalona, MD, Director of the Lurie Cancer Center's Clinical Prostate Cancer Program and Professor of Urology at Feinberg School of Medicine, continues as the project's principal investigator; and Walter M. Stadler, MD, the Fred C. Buffet Professor of Medicine and Surgery and Director of the Genitourinary Program at the University of Chicago Medicine, is co-principal investigator.

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Bert Vogelstein, MD, Co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, has received the 2015 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, which recognizes Vogelstein's extensive characterization of the underlying mechanisms of cancer and the resulting clinical impact. His early research focused on studying the molecular basis of colorectal tumors, and he went on to lead the research that identified the TP53 tumor-suppressor gene and others.

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"Dr. Vogelstein's ground-breaking research has transformed our understanding of cancer biology and holds the promise for new treatments based on cancer genetics," the Chair of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award independent selection committee, Craig Mello, PhD, said in a news release. "His work, including examining genetic and biochemical events that initiate solid tumors, is widely applicable to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cancer, and provides broad practical implications for patients with both hereditary and sporadic forms of cancer."


The award, which includes a $200,000 prize and which was established by and continues to be supported by Johnson & Johnson, was presented at the Dr. Paul Janssen Award Symposium in September. Vogelstein gave the lecture "Cancer Genomics & the Wars Against Cancers," and participated in a panel discussion on "The Future of Cancer Therapy."


Frederick W. Alt, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Director of the Program in Cellular & Molecular Medicine at Boston's Children's Hospital, and the Charles A. Janeway Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School; and Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, the Donna S. Hall Professor of Breast Cancer and Director of the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies and the Breast Cancer Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, have received the American-Italian Cancer Foundation's 2015 Prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine. The annual prize is awarded to world-class scientific researchers who have made important discoveries in cancer biology, prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment.


The award was presented at a benefit dinner earlier this month in New York City. The day after the dinner, each awardee gave a presentation of their work at a research symposium held at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH, MBA, FACS, Professor of Surgery and Associate Director for Cancer Health Disparities and Community Engagement at Fox Chase Cancer Center-Temple Health, has received the 2015 Cancer Control Award from the American Cancer Society. He said in a news release: "I'm humbled and honored to be receiving this prestigious award from the American Cancer Society because it brings attention to the importance of engaging in a conversation about cancer, cancer prevention, and cancer treatment, particularly in underserved communities that need it most."


He has led cancer education and screening efforts in various diverse communities in Philadelphia served by Fox Chase. He has directed efforts to define the cancer burden faced by these communities, promoted cultural competence among clinical providers and research staff, and expanded cancer research and clinical trials literacy via the "Be the Breakthrough" campaign, as well as various other programs aimed at engaging community partners in the Center's research initiatives.


Patrick Zweidler-McKay, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Hyundai Scholar at the University of Texas MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, has received $250,000 to continue his research that explores the Notch pathway, which contributes to blood cancers, with the goal of developing a new class of therapeutics that boost the body's ability to fight acute myelogenous leukemia.


The award was presented during a "handprint" ceremony hosted by the nonprofit organization Hyundai Hope on Wheels, during which patients from the Children's Cancer Hospital were invited to make a paint imprint of their hands on a commemorative Hyundai car that honors children and families affected by cancer.


Brian Abraham, PhD, a Hope Funds for Cancer Research Fellow Whitehead Institute researcher, has received the first Grillo-Marxuach Family Fellowship, which will fund his research for three years. The fellowship is funded by San Diego residents Antonio Grillo-Lopez, MD, and Maria S. Grillo.


"The Grillo-Marxuach Family established this Fellowship firm in the belief that education is one of the four pillars (religion, family, citizenship, and education) fundamental to our society. In cancer research, postdoctoral studies, mentorship and research are important next steps beyond the doctoral degrees our fellows have already earned. These will serve to maximize the high potential for excellence in research of Fellows, such as Dr. Brian Abraham, and lead to significant discoveries that may result in therapeutic advances for the benefit of cancer patients," Grillo-Lopez said."

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Abraham is working to develop a method to find and characterize non-coding, protein production-regulating mutations in tumor genomes. The project he is working on rescues data from sequencing experiments that other labs discard to find these mutations, and he has to-date identified thousands of candidates in nearly 50 tumors.


Dan Jones, MD, PhD, has joined Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to serve as Vice Chair and Director of Molecular Pathology, as well as Director of Molecular Pathology for Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.


Jones was previously Medical Director of Cancer Diagnostics Devices at Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute. He had also previously served at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as a tenured professor, who oversaw a research laboratory and the clinical molecular diagnostics team there that served 13 cancer care centers.


In other OSUCCC-James news, Anil Parwani, MD, PhD, MBA, has been appointed Vice Chair and Anatomic Pathology at Ohio State University College of Medicine Department of Pathology. He will also direct a new shared resource/core facility focused on digital pathology imaging and pathology informatics. Parwani will focus on automation and standardization of anatomical pathology operations including implementation of bar coding and tracking solutions within the laboratory information system. And within the Cancer Center he will direct the digital pathology service.


Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, Chair of the Department of Surgery and Co-leader of the Genitourinary Cancer Treatment Team at Fox Chase Cancer Center-Temple Health, has been elected to the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons.

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Uzzo holds the G. Willing "Wing" Pepper Chair in Cancer Research at Fox Chase. His clinical interests focus on treatment of kidney, prostate, testicular, and bladder cancers, with an emphasis on minimally invasive surgical techniques to treat urinary diversions. He is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is the national urology principal investigator for the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group trial to evaluate targeted therapies for kidney cancers.

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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has launched the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research, a multidisciplinary research initiative dedicated to developing innovative and more effective treatments for lung cancer patients.


The Center will be jointly led by Charles M. Rudin, MD, PhD, Chief of Thoracic Oncology, and David R. Jones, MD, Chief of Thoracic Surgery.


MSK board member Stanley Druckenmiller and his wife, Fiona, made a $25 million commitment to Sloan Kettering to help fund the new center.


Sidney Mirvish, PhD, Carcinogenesis Researcher, Dies at 86

Sidney Mirvish, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, has died due to complications following emergency surgery. He was 86.


"He was an outstanding scientist, known for his seminal research on carcinogenic N-nitrosamines," Samuel Cohen, MD, PhD, Havlik-Wall Professor of Oncology, Pathology, and Microbiology, who knew Mirvish for 45 years, first at Wisconsin, then at UNMC, said in a news release. "He was the first to show their formation from nitrites in food, and the inhibition of this formation by vitamin C. This led to changes in the way lunch meats, hot dogs, and sausages were made."


Mirvish completed his doctorate degree in organic chemistry at Cambridge University in England and received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. After working in South Africa at the University of Witwatersrand, he joined the Weizmann Institute in Israel where he developed his interest in carcinogenesis. He worked briefly at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin, and was recruited as Associate Professor to the Eppley Institute in 1969. He was promoted to Professor in 1977; served as Interim Director and Associate Director of the Institute from 1981 to 1986; and received the Outstanding Research and Creativity Award from the University of Nebraska in 1986.


Mirvish had 155 publications and his lab was funded by the National Cancer Institute through 2013 (as professor emeritus). Prior to his death, Mirvish was still working on grant applications and research manuscripts and continued to come regularly to institute seminars and meetings.

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Mirvish is survived by his wife, Lynda; his daughter, Leora Mirvish, and his son Daniel Mirvish and Daniel's wife, Rachel, and their three children, Rebecca, Jonathan, and Miriam. Mirvish is also survived by his sister, Doreen Bahiri, of Tel Aviv, Israel.


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ASTRO Annual Meeting Awards

The following awards were presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting last month.


Two ASTRO Junior Faculty Career Research Training Awards-each providing $100,000 annually for two years to support the careers of promising junior faculty by offering them the opportunity for dedicated time to work on research projects in radiation oncology, biology, physics, or outcomes/health services-were presented to:


* Kent William Mouw, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who will be investigating the genomic determinants of chemoradiotherapy responses in anal carcinoma; and


* Robert Mutter, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, who will study comprehensively characterized chemoresistant triple-negative breast cancer xenograft models established from patients with high-risk breast cancer in a preoperative chemotherapy clinical trial.



Three ASTRO Residents/Fellows in Radiation Oncology Research Seed Grant awards-each providing $25,000 for one-year projects to residents and fellows planning to pursue careers focusing on basic science or clinical research in radiation oncology services-were presented to:

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* Ariel Marciscano, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, who will be researching Immuno-PET as a non-invasive biomarker to characterize the tumor microenvironment an the implications for combining stereotactic radiotherapy with immune checkpoint blockades;


* David Mayhew, MD, PhD, of the University of Alabama, who will evaluate the role of a non-canonical form of mRNA translation, termed internal ribosome entry site (IRES) translation, in the cellular stress response of tumors and its subsequent impact on treatment resistance in multiple breast cancer cell lines in vitro, as well as tumor xenograft in vivo; and


* Jennifer Shah, MD, of Stanford University, who will investigate the feasibility of performing serial perfusion CT scans in patients undergoing lung tumor stereotactic ablation body radiation therapy (SABR) with the goal of characterizing the post-SABR vascular changes and how they correlate to tumor response.



Two ASTRO/Radiation Oncology Institute Comparative Effectiveness Research Awards-each providing $50,000 annually for two years to two researchers who will conduct comparative effectiveness research-were presented to:

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* Timothy Zagar, MD, of the University of North Carolina, who will be researching the comparative effectiveness of endocrine therapy and radiation therapy for elderly women with early stage, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer; and


* Mark Mishra, MD, of the University of Maryland Medical Center, who will compare patient-reported outcomes to determine if the use of IMRT compared with 3-D CRT can result in a reduction in patient-relevant side effects after prostate irradiation.



Jack A. Roth, MD, Professor in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and Chief of the Section of Thoracic Molecular Oncology also in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, both in the Division of Surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recognized as the 2015 ASTRO Honorary Member. The recognition is the highest ASTRO bestows on distinguished cancer researchers, scientists, and leaders in disciplines other than radiation oncology, radiobiology, or radiation physics.

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"Throughout his renowned career, Dr. Roth has demonstrated leadership and commitment to multidisciplinary approaches for treating lung cancer," Bruce G. Haffty, MD, FASTRO, Chair of ASTRO's Board of Directors, said in a news release. "Patients should benefit from his pivotal work comparing the use of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy [SABR] versus surgery for operable clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer [NSCLC]. He and colleagues found that SABR may improve outcomes for stage I NSCLC patients compared with standard lobectomy in their study. Dr. Roth is an excellent surgeon and clinician, as well as an inspiring mentor."

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Roth also led the first tumor-suppressor gene therapy clinical trials approved by the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee and the Food and Drug Administration. The approval for the protocols came from his demonstration of feasibility and efficacy through laboratory and preclinical studies. His work was the first gene therapy in cancer approved for human use.

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Bridgett Harr, CPN, of Cleveland Clinic, received the 2015 ASTRO Annual Meeting Nurses Abstract Award for the abstract "Advanced Practice Nurse Follow-up Clinic Reduces Emergency Room Visits and Admissions in High-Risk Patients after Chemoradiation Therapy for Head and Neck Cancer." The award honors the highest rated abstract with a nursing designation and comes with a $1,000 award.


Dan's House of Hope, a Houston-based cancer patient support group, and ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, a San Antonio-based cancer support organization, have both received 2015 Survivor Circle grants, which recognize the organizations' efforts and provide direct support for the organizations' work assisting cancer patients and their families. Each grant awards $8,500.

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Dan's House of Hope provides a place to live, as well as programs and home-away from-home services, for older adolescents and young adults, who have cancer and are being treated at the Texas Medical Center. The organization's mission is to "reduce isolation, decrease financial burden, and nourish hope."


ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, which began in 2007, helps low-income cancer patients adhere to their prescribed treatment plans by providing financial and transportation support through its Patient Assistance Program.


Vicki Shapiro, a San Antonio resident and cancer survivor, received the 2015 Survivor Circle Award, which recognizes a cancer survivor who lives in the Annual Meeting host city and has dedicated his or her time and energy in service and support of the local community. Shapiro is the volunteer coordinator for the Sarcoma Support Group at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The award includes a $1,000 prize.

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