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Vanderbilt Chair Elected President of the American Board of Radiology

Lisa Kachnic, MD, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Nashville, Tenn., has been elected President of the American Board of Radiology (ABR). She assumed the role after being chosen President-Elect of the organization in March 2014 and succeeds former ABR President Milton J. Guiberteau, MD.


Kachnic officially began her role as President Oct. 26 at the completion of the fall ABR meeting in California. Over the years, she has served in a volunteer role on many of the organization's oversight committees and has been an elected member of their board since 2010.

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Lisa Kachnic, MD. Li... - Click to enlarge in new windowLisa Kachnic, MD. Lisa Kachnic, MD

"It is an enormous honor to be chosen by my fellow board members to serve as president of this wonderful organization," Kachnic said. "The ABR serves a crucial function in ensuring that practitioners in the field of radiology continue to advance their skills and education and adhere to the highest standards of excellence in patient care. I am looking forward to working with the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees to enhance the organization's reputation for excellence."


Founded in 1934, the ABR is a nonprofit organization and is one of 24 independent national boards that are members of the American Board of Medical Specialties. The mission of the organization is to serve the public by certifying that its diplomates have acquired and demonstrated the knowledge, skill, and understanding necessary for the practice of diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics.


Kachnic heads the Radiation Oncology service at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) with a personal research focus on optimizing sphincter-preserving chemoradiation therapy for locally advanced anal cancer. In a national trial, Kachnic demonstrated that intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) was effective in reducing the high rate of normal tissue toxicities associated with chemoradiation. Following that study, IMRT has become standard practice for anal cancer.


Prior to joining VUMC and VICC, Kachnic served as Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Boston Medical Center and Professor of Radiation Oncology at Boston University School of Medicine. She also served on the Radiation Oncology faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Kachnic actively serves in several leadership positions among the NCI's adult research bases. She is involved in NRG Oncology's gastrointestinal (GI) and outcome strategic committees, and is Co-Chair of their Cancer Prevention and Control Program. She is also an Executive Officer, GI Radiation Oncology Chair, Anal Rectal Cancer Chair, and Discipline Vice-Chair of the Radiation Oncology committee for the Southwest Oncology Group.


She has been principal or co-principal investigator on several national clinical trials and has received research funding from the National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense.


Internationally Recognized Specialist Receives ACCC Clinical Research Award

Michael O'Connell, MD, received the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) 2016 Clinical Research Award in recognition of the significant and positive impact of his research on the oncology patient, family, and the community.


O'Connell is an internationally recognized specialist in the treatment of gastrointestinal tract cancers, and a prolific researcher who has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, 150 scientific abstracts, and 25 textbook chapters in his field. He has helped direct numerous studies that have resulted in better treatment protocols for cancer of the colon and rectum, and is currently a leader of a national study on the efficacy of a new anti-angiogenesis therapy combined with standard chemotherapy in patients who have already had surgery for stage 2 or stage 3 colon cancer.

Michael Oconnell, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowMichael O'connell, MD. Michael O'connell, MD

O'Connell currently serves as an Associate Chairman of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, as a member of ASCO and the American Association for Cancer Research, and on the Board of Directors for the Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups. He is also a member of the NCI steering committee for gastrointestinal cancer cooperative group clinical trials.


O'Connell was among a select group of cancer specialists invited to the White House in 1996 for President Clinton's announcement of major changes in the FDA policy for approval of oncology drugs. He was selected to participate in the National Dialogue on Cancer chaired by President and Mrs. George H. Bush and the 2001 World Summit Against Cancer in Paris.


Roswell Park Physician Recognized for National Leadership

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, Deputy Director of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, N.Y., has been re-elected to the prestigious leadership position as Co-Chair of the NCI's Ovarian Task Force of the Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee. He will serve for 3 years.


The NCI Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee seeks to find efficient, cost-effective, science-driven, and transparent processes that identify and promote the "best science" in gynecologic cancer clinical research. The Steering Committee operates through three task forces: Ovarian, Uterine, and Cervical cancers. Their goal is to foster collaboration among international groups and institutions engaged in conducting clinical trials in gynecologic cancers.

Kunle Odunsi, MD, Ph... - Click to enlarge in new windowKunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG. Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG

Odunsi is Co-Chair of the Ovarian Cancer Task Force along with Deborah Armstrong, MD, Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He also serves as the M. Steven Piver Professor and Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Executive Director of the Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park. He provides operational oversight for the scientific, clinical research, and educational missions of Roswell Park and monitors all research-related initiatives steering development of programs and policies designed to transfer scientific discoveries to clinical settings.


UNC Lineberger Leader Appointed Chair-Elect of AACI's CRI Steering Committee

Carrie Lee, MD, MPH, Medical Director of UNC Lineberger's Clinical Protocol Office, has been appointed the Chair-Elect of the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) Clinical Research Initiative (CRI) Steering Committee. Her chair term will start in 2017.


Lee, who is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, oversees clinical, regulatory, compliance, financial, and data management for the therapeutic clinical trials at UNC Lineberger, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Carrie Lee, MD, MPH.... - Click to enlarge in new windowCarrie Lee, MD, MPH. Carrie Lee, MD, MPH

AACI established the CRI 8 years ago to pursue a variety of objectives, including developing better methods to disseminate information across cancer centers, identifying and addressing clinical research challenges, and measuring progress.


Lee said she is honored to serve in this capacity. "The scientific advances driving the era of personalized cancer medicine are tremendous," Lee noted. "But we need to take an equally intense look at the clinical trial processes and operations that will facilitate enrollment of patients on the innovative trials that will bring these new treatments from bench to bedside-if we don't do that, we've missed the boat. My role as chair-elect of the AACI-CRI steering committee gives UNC Lineberger an opportunity to have a voice in bringing these two fronts together-the science and the operations-to ultimately improve and extend the lives of cancer patients."


AACI was founded to reduce the burden of cancer by enhancing the impact of the leading academic cancer centers in the U.S. and Canada. AACI facilitates interaction among its 95 member centers, educates policy makers, and fosters the development of partnerships between cancer centers and other cancer organizations to improve the overall quality of cancer care.


As part of its mission, AACI gathers and shares best practices among cancer centers, providing a forum for its members to address common challenges and explore new opportunities, supporting initiatives that engage the membership in developing specific recommendations to the NCI, and educating policy makers about the important role cancer centers play in advancing cancer discovery.


Baylor Welcomes New McNair Scholar

Bing Zhang, PhD, a computational biologist with a focus on cancer bioinformatics, has been named the newest McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.


The McNair Scholar program at Baylor identifies influential researchers in breast and pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes, and neuroscience. It is funded by The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute.

Bing Zhang, PhD. Bin... - Click to enlarge in new windowBing Zhang, PhD. Bing Zhang, PhD

"It is a great honor to be selected as a McNair Scholar. This accolade will bring recognition to the field of bioinformatics as it relates to cancer," said Zhang. "I am excited to have the opportunity to interact with other McNair scholars and collaborate with these renowned physicians and researchers."


Zhang's work focuses on integrating proteomic and genomic data into the study of cancer to improve overall cancer care. Analyzing the proteomic data helps to understand what exactly within the tumor needs to be targeted to see the most impactful results from treatment.


Zhang joins Baylor as a Professor in Molecular and Human Genetics and the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center within the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Prior to joining Baylor, Zhang attended undergraduate and graduate school in his native China, receiving degrees in biology and genetics from Nanjing University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, respectively. Zhang also attended the University of Tennessee, performing postdoctoral research in functional genomics, and the University of Tennessee Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he conducted postdoctoral research in bioinformatics. Zhang has been a faculty member at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's department of biomedical informatics and department of cancer biology since 2006.


Zhang will continue his work in proteogenomics and systems biology here at Baylor, focusing on their impact in the treatment of breast cancer. "I'm excited to join Baylor's strong genetics and cancer programs, and to collaborate with other geneticists and oncologists to change how we look at and diagnose cancer. I am appreciative of the support from Robert and Janice McNair and The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation," said Zhang.


Lung Cancer Expert to Join NYU Langone as Chief of Hematology & Medical Oncology

The Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center has named noted clinician-scientist Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, as its new Chief of Hematology and Medical Oncology.


Wong joins the Perlmutter faculty in January 2017 following a distinguished, decades-long career at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. A professor of medicine and a practicing clinical oncologist, Wong's world-renowned research has provided new insight into the genetic and environmental causes of lung cancer, enabling testing of novel lung cancer therapies. He has received acclaim for clarifying the role of genes such as EGFR, ALK, and PI3 kinases. By creating genetically engineered mice harboring these mutations, his lab has revealed their contribution to lung cancer development.

Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, P... - Click to enlarge in new windowKwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD. Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD

As Wong explained, "This is an exciting time in cancer research and treatment. Advances in genomic technology, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy have now directly improved cancer patient survival. It is imperative that we continue to work together to find new combination treatments for each genetically stratified cancer that work even better."


Oncology Surgeon & Physician-Scientist Joins UA Cancer Center

William Cance, MD, has joined the University of Arizona Cancer Center as Deputy Director and will lead the efforts in Phoenix at the UA Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.


Cance is a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist who treats patients with complex gastrointestinal and endocrine cancers. He has a particular focus on the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid and parathyroid diseases, including thyroid cancer.

William Cance, MD. W... - Click to enlarge in new windowWilliam Cance, MD. William Cance, MD

In his role as Deputy Director of the UA Cancer Center, Cance will work with UACC Director Andrew Kraft, MD, to develop the Phoenix campus in partnership with Dignity Health. Early priorities include enhancing clinical research, fostering translational research, and stimulating protocol development.


Cance will be responsible for developing disease-focused clinical groups on the Phoenix campus, including recruiting physicians and organizing them into disease-oriented teams, as well as integration with the Tucson campus and developing one cancer center in two sites.


Cance's research interests focus on focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a promising therapeutic target being evaluated in several clinical trials using kinase enzyme inhibitors. He was the first researcher to clone human FAK in 1993 and demonstrate its overexpression in almost all human cancers. Today, Cance is homing in on the biology of FAK and developing anti-cancer drugs that target the signal. He also is interested in the role of FAK in integrating cancer cell signaling that enhances the survival mechanisms of cancer cells.


An avid researcher, Cance is the principal investigator on a current R01 grant from the NCI focusing on FAK. He has been awarded numerous other grants from the NCI and NIH, as well as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and U.S. Department of Defense.


Molecular Biologist Honored With NIH Director's Pioneer Award

Christine Mayr, MD, PhD, a molecular biologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering's Sloan Kettering Institute, is a 2016 recipient of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award.


Established in 2004, the annual award recognizes and supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering and highly innovative approaches with the potential to produce an unusually high impact on biomedical or behavioral research. Mayr was selected as a Director's Pioneer Award winner for her groundbreaking work on the influence of the noncoding parts of transcription units (3'UTRs) on protein function and protein localization.

Christine Mayr, MD, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowChristine Mayr, MD, PhD. Christine Mayr, MD, PhD

3'UTRs are noncoding parts of gene transcripts that are known to bind to microRNAs and RNA-binding proteins. So far, it has been thought that the major role of 3'UTRs is the regulation of protein abundance. However, Mayr's research discovered that 3'UTRs can also mediate protein-protein interactions of newly made proteins. As more than half of human genes generate transcripts with alternative 3'UTRs, her discovery has major implications for the regulation of protein functions.


For example, her lab has shown that CD47, a protein that was thought to play an important role in cancer cell survival, also regulates cell death. The function that is carried out by CD47 in each cell depends on the expression of the alternative CD47 3'UTRs. Mayr's research will help to better understand the functions of proteins; advances in this research may potentially offer new ways to treat cancer.


"I am absolutely thrilled to be a recipient of the 2016 Director's Pioneer Award," she said. "Winning this award is fantastic because it provides the resources to pursue riskier projects. If these projects succeed, they will have a very high impact for biology and can possibly change the way we treat certain cancers."


ACS Awards Research Professorship to Fred Hutch Physician-Scientist

Stanley Riddell, MD, a physician-scientist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, whose work has led to promising new cancer immunotherapy treatments, has received an American Cancer Society (ACS)-Virginia Hobbs Charitable Trust Research Professorship.


"I am deeply honored to be selected for this award, through which the American Cancer Society has a long track record of financial support and recognition for groundbreaking research," Riddell said. "I know I'm in incredible company when I look at other recipients of this award and the scientific discoveries that have been fostered as a result of that support."

Stanley Riddell, MD.... - Click to enlarge in new windowStanley Riddell, MD. Stanley Riddell, MD

The ACS research professor awards provide flexible funding for full-time investigators in mid-career who have made seminal contributions to cancer research and who will continue to provide leadership in their research area. The awards are made through a highly competitive peer-review process. Only 25 research professors and 15 clinical research professors are funded at any time.


Riddell is collaborating on a new trial that employs T-cell therapy against certain types of lung cancer and breast cancer, which could provide valuable insights into how effective these engineered cells can be in fighting solid tumors. Beyond the lab, Riddell treats patients with leukemia, lymphomas, and other blood-related cancers using bone marrow transplantation and experimental CAR T-cell therapies. He is an expert in treating graft-versus-host disease that can occur if a donor's T cells attack normal tissues following transplantation.


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