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American Association for Cancer Research Announces 2017-2018 President-Elect

The members of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have elected Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, as their President-Elect for 2017-2018. She officially became President-Elect at the AACR Annual Meeting 2017, held in Washington, April 1-5, and will assume the presidency in April 2018 at the Annual Meeting.


Jaffee is Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore; Associate Director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins; the Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Professor of Oncology; Professor of Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; active staff in oncology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital; Associate Director for Translational Research, Co-Director of Gastrointestinal Cancer and Diseases Program, and Co-Director of the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer Clinical Research and Patient Care; and member of the faculty, Graduate Programs in Immunology, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and Pharmacology, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Elizabeth M. Jaffee,... - Click to enlarge in new windowElizabeth M. Jaffee, MD. Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD

Jaffee is an internationally recognized expert in cancer immunology, with specific expertise in preclinical and early clinical development of immunotherapies for breast and pancreatic cancers.


As AACR President-Elect, Jaffee will work with the Board of Directors and the AACR membership, which includes more than 37,000 members in 108 countries, to further the association's mission to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, and collaboration.


"I am honored to serve the world's first and largest professional organization dedicated to cancer research," said Jaffee. "The AACR has fostered extensive collaboration among cancer researchers, helps to propel the careers of young scientists, and provides peer review for scores of cancer discoveries. Cancer research is accelerating at a fast pace, with notable advances in immunotherapy over just a few years. The AACR is at the forefront of keeping the scientific community abreast of these discoveries."


"Dr. Jaffee is an esteemed physician-scientist whose pioneering work in cancer immunology and immunotherapy has had an enormous impact on the discovery and development of new and effective cancer treatments," said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of AACR. "She is also a distinguished, highly effective leader in cancer policy at the national level, and her work in this area has been deeply appreciated by the whole cancer community. We are delighted that Dr. Jaffee has been elected to serve as the 2017-2018 President-Elect of the AACR, for her expertise and vision will be invaluable as we work to carry out the important initiatives of the AACR's Vision 2020 Strategic Plan."


Jaffee is Chair (2016-present) and member (2013-present) of the National Cancer Advisory Board for NCI and Co-Chair of the NCI Blue Ribbon Panel for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative (2016-present).


International Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Foundation Honors Fred Hutch Researcher

The International Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Foundation has awarded the 2017 iCMLf Prize to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center leukemia researcher and diagnostic expert Jerald "Jerry" Radich, MD, in recognition of his "dedication to developing methods to increase access to molecular monitoring" of CML patients in emerging economic regions.


Radich has given his time and expertise through the years to improving outcomes for people living with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). In particular, the iCMLf Prize recognizes his lab's development of a low-cost, paper-based blood test for use in low- and middle-income countries, where the diagnosis of CML qualifies for free treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Jerald Jerry Radich,... - Click to enlarge in new windowJerald "Jerry" Radich, MD. Jerald "Jerry" Radich, MD

"I am honored and humbled with receiving the iCMLf Prize," said Radich, a member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch and a Professor of Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. "It is a testimony of the inspiring, hard work of my friends and colleagues in our lab, at The Max Foundation, the iCMLf, and the physicians and patients throughout the globe. It is uplifting to know that making a difference together is not just a quaint slogan; it is the truth."


A world expert in CML, Radich serves as the Chair of the CML guidelines panel for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and is a member of the European LeukemiaNet, both of which synthesize the best available evidence, including findings from state-of-the-art molecular monitoring, to support optimal decision-making in the medical management of CML patients.


Radich is also Chair of the SWOG Leukemia Translational Medicine Committee and Co-Chair of the NCI Leukemia Steering Committee, and also is on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute. He is also on the Scientific Board of The Max Foundation and the iCMLf.


Lurie Cancer Center Appoints Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives

Internationally recognized Swiss neuro-oncologist, Roger Stupp, MD, has been appointed Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago.


A leading authority on the treatment of primary and metastatic brain cancer, Stupp joined Northwestern Medicine as a Professor of Neurological Surgery. He will work collaboratively with other neuro-oncologists in the Division of Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neurology and Lurie Cancer Center's Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute to help advance efforts to treat complex brain tumors medically.

Roger Stupp, MD. Rog... - Click to enlarge in new windowRoger Stupp, MD. Roger Stupp, MD

"Roger Stupp's transformative clinical discoveries have had an enormous impact on thousands of cancer patients," said Leonidas Platanias, MD, PhD, Director of the Lurie Cancer Center. "We are thrilled that he is joining Northwestern and look forward to building new collaborations and supporting the next chapter of his illustrious career."


In 2005, Stupp led clinical research demonstrating that chemotherapy with the drug temozolomide in conjunction with radiotherapy increases survival for patients with glioblastoma. Later, Stupp and colleagues showed that electromagnetic waves called tumor treating fields can substantially improve outcomes for patients suffering from glioblastoma. These breakthrough discoveries led to the last two FDA-approved treatments for the disease.


"The 'Stupp Protocol' is a standard of care for patients with malignant glioma around the world," said Maciej (Matt) Lesniak, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery. "Northwestern is fortunate to have recruited an international leader in the field who will champion the development of new therapies for patients with brain cancer."


Stupp went on to discover an important predictor of response to his chemotherapy-radiation treatment-patients who carry an inactivated MGMT gene respond better to the combination therapy. Stupp's ongoing research touches not only primary and secondary brain tumors, but also head and neck tumors and lung cancers.


"Northwestern unites the excellence and expertise in neurosurgery, neurology, oncology, and cancer drug discovery and development that is needed to further advance the care of patients suffering from tumors in the brain," Stupp said. "I am excited to join a unique team of the finest physicians, researchers, and experts to bring the treatment and care of our patients to the next level of excellence."


He also serves as President of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer and Section Editor of the European Journal of Cancer. Among many honors and awards recognizing his contributions to cancer science, Stupp received the European Society for Medical Oncology's Hamilton Fairley Award and the Society for NeuroOncology's Victor Levin Award. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, editorials, and book chapters.


Society of Gynecologic Oncology Elects 49th President

Laurel W. Rice, MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Professor in the Division of Gynecology Oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, began her 1-year term as the 49th President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO).


Rice will focus her attention on three key issues: health care disparities, immunotherapy, and the crisis in gynecologic cancer clinical trials. "Our members understand that the lack of funding for clinical trials to treat women with gynecologic cancers is the major issue facing our patients today," said Rice. "In the coming year, we want to offer multiple opportunities for SGO members to get involved and have their voices heard, and we need to do that as a united front as we move forward."

Laurel W. Rice, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowLaurel W. Rice, MD. Laurel W. Rice, MD

A member of SGO since 1992, Rice has served as a member of the SGO Board and the Annual Meeting Program Committee. She has also worked on various SGO committees over the past 25 years, including the Research Summit, Government Relations, Quality of Life, Nominating, Medical Practice, and a Subcommittee on Trophoblastic Disease.


Rice recently co-authored a study published in in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, which found that fewer minority women were receiving NCI guideline-based care for cervical cancer than their white counterparts.


Nationally recognized as an expert in the care of women with gynecologic malignancies, Rice has published extensively in her field. Her research focuses on hormones and human malignancies, specifically endometrial carcinoma. She has lectured extensively throughout the U.S.


Rice continues to serve in leadership positions of many national organizations. She is President-Elect of the Council of University Chairs in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Secretary/Treasurer of the American Gynecologic Obstetrics Society, and an active member of several other professional organizations.


Since 2006, Rice has served on the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and currently serves as Director for the Division of Gynecologic Oncology. She is an examiner for candidates seeking board certification in both General Obstetrics and Gynecology, in addition to the subspecialty area of Gynecologic Oncology. She also serves on the editorial board of Gynecologic Oncology, the official journal of SGO, and as a reviewer for Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Names Deputy Director

Mohammed Milhem, MBBS, Clinical Professor in the University of Iowa (UI) Department of Internal Medicine, Iowa City, has been named Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Clinical Services at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at UI.


This new position was established to enhance the synergy between the clinical cancer care and clinical cancer research missions of Holden by placing them under Milhem's leadership.

Mohammed Milhem, MBB... - Click to enlarge in new windowMohammed Milhem, MBBS. Mohammed Milhem, MBBS

In this role, Milhem-who holds the endowed Holden Chair of Experimental Therapeutics-will leverage his success at building clinical and clinical research programs in sarcoma and melanoma to other cancer types. He will initially focus on mentoring clinical oncologists and clinical research faculty and strengthening the early-phase clinical cancer research trial portfolio at Holden.


St. Jude Research Tower Honors Oncologist's Legacy

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is naming the institution's principal research tower after Donald Pinkel, MD, whose legacy of driving progress toward advancing cures for pediatric catastrophic diseases continues at the institution today.


When St. Jude was established 55 years ago, Pinkel, the hospital's first medical director, committed to finding cures for childhood cancer, leading to groundbreaking treatments that saved countless children's lives. Many of these cancers were deemed incurable prior to Pinkel's research, but his distinct approach to eradicating diseases established a model for how cancers could be treated.

Donald Pinkel, MD. D... - Click to enlarge in new windowDonald Pinkel, MD. Donald Pinkel, MD

Under Pinkel's leadership, St. Jude pioneered a strategy called Total Therapy aimed at curing children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The Total Therapy approach combines multiple anticancer drugs for cures, and each study builds upon the success of the preceding study, continuing to this day with clinical trial Total XVI.


"Donald rebelled against conventional wisdom and challenged current thoughts and practice," said James R. Downing, MD, St. Jude President and Chief Executive Officer. "The dedication of this building is a testament to the strong foundation he created for St. Jude and his refusal to accept the status quo. This spirit remains a part of St. Jude today."


Pinkel was instrumental in establishing the cohesive relationship between clinicians and research investigators at St. Jude, often referred to as the "bench-to-bedside" process that has been popularized in the cancer research community. Additionally, he was led the establishment of many clinical trials at St. Jude, creating a precedent for clinicians and researchers to use combinations of therapies to treat pediatric catastrophic diseases.


Pinkel demonstrated that such treatment can be carried out with minimal and even no hospitalization, and can result in long survival for a substantial proportion of children. Through implementing the Total Therapy protocols, researchers at St. Jude helped improve the survival rate of pediatric ALL from less than 4 percent at the hospital's opening to higher than 50 percent by 1972.


The Donald P. Pinkel, MD, Research Tower houses an array of cutting-edge scientific programs that have helped fuel advancements and will continue to pave the way for new discoveries. Many translational research investigations are performed in the tower. Those investigations are critical to interpreting information gained from research protocols that help develop better treatments for future clinical trials.


Pinkel served as the hospital's Medical Director from the time St. Jude was founded on Feb. 4, 1962, until 1973. In 1972, Pinkel received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award for his efforts in combination therapy for lymphoma and acute leukemia.


Wistar Institute Appoints Assistant Professor in the Vaccine Center

The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology, and infectious diseases, appointed Farokh Dotiwala, MBBS, PhD, as Assistant Professor in the Vaccine Center.


Dotiwala's research centers on the mechanisms of killer immune cells-such as natural killer and CD8 T cells-and how they target and destroy pathogens in host cells. This research could result in promising therapeutic strategies against infections that were once thought to be drug-resistant. Dotiwala's research on immune proteases could also provide new therapies for drug-resistant cancers by redirecting proteins produced in the human body to destroy these cancer cells by restricting their ability to resist against therapy.

Farokh Dotiwala, MBB... - Click to enlarge in new windowFarokh Dotiwala, MBBS, PhD. Farokh Dotiwala, MBBS, PhD

"I find Wistar's collaborative atmosphere and the genuine interest of senior faculty to mentor junior faculty very appealing," said Dotiwala. "As my research evolves, I look forward to starting a new drug-resistance research program with a focus on the killing mechanism of immune cells and the proteins they use to disable or kill pathogens. These studies would also contribute to the ongoing work of Wistar's Vaccine Center scientists. I'm also interested in collaborating with Cancer Center scientists to find and test certain anti-mitochondrial therapies against cancers like pancreatic and triple-negative breast cancers, which are resistant to all conventional anti-cancer therapies."


Dotiwala focuses on how granzymes attack and disable the infective pathogen and not the host cell. Dotiwala's research could identify the next generation of anti-cancer and antibacterial therapies.


"Across the globe, there is an urgent need for new antibiotics against antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and Farokh is perfectly positioned to contribute innovative research approaches in this important topic of investigation," said Dario C. Altieri, MD, Wistar President and CEO, Director of the Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor. "His research is a perfect fit to Wistar's premiere immunology program and will open up new avenues to explore how immune cells reprogram proteins produced by the human body to target cancers and pathogens. This will ultimately lead to highly-specific antimicrobial strategies against antibiotic-resistant strains as well as promising anti-cancer immunotherapies."


City of Hope Deputy Director Appointed to California's Stem Cell Agency Board

Linda Malkas, PhD, Deputy Director of Basic Research for City of Hope who holds the MT & BA Ahmadinia Professorship in Molecular Oncology, has been appointed to the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state's Stem Cell Agency.


California Treasurer John Chiang made the appointment, saying, "She has had a stellar career in both research and administration, promoting and advancing research in women's health with a particular focus on breast cancer. Dr. Malkas' research expertise is in the areas of human cell DNA replication/repair, in biomarker and therapeutic target discovery and development.

Linda Malkas, PhD. L... - Click to enlarge in new windowLinda Malkas, PhD. Linda Malkas, PhD

"Dr. Malkas is extraordinarily well-qualified for the post. Her resume certainly reflects that. She was the founding director of the Indiana Center for Breast Cancer Research. She discovered a molecule that can inhibit certain activities in cancerous cells and hopes to move that into clinical trials in the near future," Chiang added. "She served for 5 years on an NCI subcommittee reviewing cancer center designations. She has served as Chair on several NCI study panels and recently took on an advisory role on drug approval policy with the Food and Drug Administration."


In addition to her leadership role at City of Hope, Malkas is a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope and Joint Head of the Molecular Oncology Program.


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