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Cedars-Sinai Investigator Inducted Into Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars

Steven Piantadosi, MD, PhD, Director of the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, who is spearheading the design and analysis of clinical trials for cancer research, was inducted April 3 into the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars.


Created in 1967, the society inducts former Johns Hopkins postdoctoral fellows, postdoctoral students, and faculty members who have gained marked distinction in their respective fields. Members of the society include several Nobel laureates and Lasker Award winners.

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Steven Piantadosi, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowSteven Piantadosi, MD, PhD. Steven Piantadosi, MD, PhD

Piantadosi led a distinguished career at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine before joining the Cedars-Sinai faculty a decade ago. Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, FRCP, MACP, Cedars-Sinai Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the medical faculty, said the honor was well-deserved.


"Dr. Piantadosi has rightly been recognized with this high honor because of his incisive leadership in developing statistical design and analysis models of complex human investigations. His scholarly contributions have enriched discovery in multiple disease areas."


Piantadosi is one of the world's leading experts in the design and analysis of clinical trials for cancer research. Prior to assuming the directorship of the cancer institute, he was a Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Director of Biostatistics at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.


Piantadosi has advised dozens of academic programs and collaborations nationally regarding clinical trial design and conduct, and has served on external advisory boards for the NIH and other prominent cancer programs and centers. He also has served on numerous FDA panels that decided approvals of new drugs, and on a Cancer Moonshot working group on clinical trials.


Piantadosi, a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine health policy forum, currently leads Cedars-Sinai's programs in cancer research, treatment, and education; enhances academic activities related to cancer; and brings together physicians and researchers for innovative collaborations.


Outside of the medical center, Piantadosi hand crafts violins, a skill he honed over several summers at the Violin Craftsmanship Institute at the University of New Hampshire, where he was instructed by the renowned German violin maker Karl Roy.


The Public Library of Science recently published Piantadosi's paper, "Three-Dimensional Mathematical Modeling of Violin Plate Surfaces: An Approach Based on an Ensemble of Contour Lines."


NCCN Foundation Awards Grants to Four Young Investigators

The NCCN Foundation has awarded grants to four young investigators from National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Member Institutions. These awardees, who are dedicated to advancing and discovering new treatments for cancer, enhancing quality, and improving patient education, represent the seventh series of NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards-a program initiated in 2011. The grants will provide $150,000 in funding over a 2-year period to each awardee, beginning in July 2017.


"The NCCN Foundation is excited to award these funds to support career development of the next generation of innovators at the forefront of their field. These researchers are guiding the course of treatment innovation and advancement for all people with cancer," said Marcie R. Reeder, MPH, Executive Director of the NCCN Foundation.


The 2017 NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Award recipients are:


* Kemi Doll, MD, MSCR, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, "Racial Disparities in Endometrial Cancer"


* Saad Kenderian, MB, CHB, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, "Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Mechanisms of Resistance and Strategies to Enhance Efficacy"


* Florian Muller, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, "ENO1-Deletion as a Target for Personalized Oncology: Collateral Lethality to the Clinic"


* Elizabeth Stewart, MD, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital/University of Tennessee Health Science Center, "Preclinical Match"



The awardees responded to a Request for Proposals issued by the NCCN Foundation to the NCCN Member Institutions and were nominated by their institutions.

Kemi Doll, MD, MSCR.... - Click to enlarge in new windowKemi Doll, MD, MSCR. Kemi Doll, MD, MSCR
Saad Kenderian, MB, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowSaad Kenderian, MB, CHB. Saad Kenderian, MB, CHB
Florian Muller, PhD.... - Click to enlarge in new windowFlorian Muller, PhD. Florian Muller, PhD
Elizabeth Stewart, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowElizabeth Stewart, MD. Elizabeth Stewart, MD

All submissions were reviewed by a multidisciplinary panel of oncology experts; the awardees were selected based on several key components, including scientific merit and study design. The studies will be managed and overseen by the NCCN Oncology Research Program.


Since its inception in 2011, NCCN Foundation has provided funding to 33 U.S. researchers through the Young Investigator Awards.


ACCC Names 2017-2018 President

Mark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS, was elected as the 2017-2018 President of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) during its 43rd Annual Meeting, March 31, 2017, in Washington, D.C.


Soberman brings a wealth of experience in thoracic surgery, thoracic oncology, and value-based healthcare delivery to his presidency from his current position as Medical Director, Oncology Service Line, and Chief Physician Executive, Monocacy Health Partners at Frederick Regional Health System.

Mark S. Soberman, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowMark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS. Mark S. Soberman, MD, MBA, FACS

ACCC has a rich, evolving legacy of presidential themes that has included leadership in oncology, the Oncology Medical Home, quality in oncology care, and patient empowerment and provider engagement. As someone with a keen professional interest in multidisciplinary cancer care models, Soberman hopes to build on his predecessors' contributions with his theme of "Envisioning Next Gen Multidisciplinary Cancer Care."


"We can all acknowledge that we still have work to do to ensure a solid foundation from which to grow the next generation multidisciplinary cancer care team," Soberman said. "One essential piece to this foundation is moving to strengthen and expand our care connections while lessening the siloes that still sometimes exist. So many ACCC members are making exciting, innovative changes in this area, and I look forward to learning from them and sharing their ideas and solutions."


Soberman has been an active member of ACCC, serving on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and as President-Elect (2016-2017).


Previously, Soberman served as Vice-Chair of the Department of Surgery; Director, Section of Thoracic Oncology; and Director, Section of Thoracic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. He has held leadership positions as Director, Division of Thoracic Surgery at Georgetown University Hospital, and Director, Section of Thoracic Surgery at Sibley Memorial Hospital. His academic appointments include Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine.


He is a reviewer for the Annals of Thoracic Surgery and an active member of numerous organizations, including the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, the General Thoracic Surgical Club, the American Association for Physician Leadership, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and ASCO.


Stand Up to Cancer Innovation Grant Funds MD Anderson Microbiome Study

An Innovative Research Grant from Stand Up to Cancer will help a University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center physician scientist and her team understand how the bacteria in the digestive tracts of melanoma patients affects their response to a common immunotherapy drug. Jennifer Wargo, MD, Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology and Genomic Medicine, was awarded a $750,000, 3-year grant.


"This Innovative Research Grant will help us address two important questions: exactly how gut microbes influence the immune system and how we might manipulate that to improve treatment," said Wargo, who also co-leads the Melanoma Moon Shot, part of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program to reduce cancer deaths by accelerating development of therapies from scientific discoveries.

Jennifer Wargo, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowJennifer Wargo, MD. Jennifer Wargo, MD

Anti-PD1 drugs use an antibody to block activation of a brake on immune system T cells, unleashing the immune system to attack cancer.


Wargo and colleagues have presented data at scientific meetings showing that analysis of fecal samples from both responders and non-responders to anti-PD1 therapy had distinct differences in their gut microbiomes. Patients whose melanoma responded to treatment had greater diversity of bacteria overall and also an abundance of the Ruminococcaceae and Clostridiales bacteria. Non-responders had more Bacteriodales bacteria.


Wargo's team will expand studies of patient samples to build on existing data and define microbiome-immune system interactions for a broader range of immunotherapies. They also will use experimental mouse models to identify specific microbiome effects. Germ-free mice will have fecal transplants from responding or non-responding patients to colonize their digestive tracts, providing favorable and unfavorable microbiomes to study in detail.


AACR Inaugurates New Leadership at 2017 Annual Meeting

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recently welcomed Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, Director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Chief Executive Officer of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) in Columbus, as President of the organization for 2017-2018.


Caligiuri is also the John L. Marakas Nationwide Insurance Enterprise Foundation Chair in Cancer Research and a Professor in The Ohio State University College of Medicine Departments of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics, and Internal Medicine. He is a renowned physician-scientist known for his work in immunology that is focused on human natural killer cells and their modulation for the treatment of leukemia, myeloma, and glioblastoma. Well over 1,500 cancer patients have been treated on clinical protocols that have emanated from the Caligiuri laboratory.

Michael A. Caligiuri... - Click to enlarge in new windowMichael A. Caligiuri, MD. Michael A. Caligiuri, MD

"For nearly a century, AACR has been an unwavering catalyst for advancing cancer research by fostering collaboration among scientists and physicians, accelerating the dissemination of cancer discoveries and supporting the education and training of young cancer researchers. I am humbled and tremendously honored to be elected by my peers to serve as AACR president," Caligiuri said. "Game-changing cancer research breakthroughs can't come fast enough -and as an oncology community we must continue to be an unwavering force for progress in research that benefits the many people affected by cancer."


Additionally, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, and Associate Director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, was inducted as President-Elect. Nancy E. Davidson, MD, FAACR, Executive Director of Oncology for Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium and President of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, now serves as Past President.


UCLA Professor Honored for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) honored Roger S. Lo, MD, PhD, with the first AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research.


Lo, Professor in the Division of Dermatology and Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medicinal Pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is being recognized for his pioneering research toward identifying the molecular underpinnings of metastatic melanoma and its response to therapy. His work provided the major scientific rationale for testing the effectiveness of inhibitors of BRAF and MEK in combination as a treatment for melanoma-a therapeutic approach that is now globally considered the standard of care.

Roger S. Lo, MD, PhD... - Click to enlarge in new windowRoger S. Lo, MD, PhD. Roger S. Lo, MD, PhD

The AACR established this award in recognition of AACR President (2001-2002) Waun Ki Hong, MD, FAACR, and his extraordinary contributions to cancer research, cancer care, and cancer prevention during his career as a physician-scientist. This award recognizes a worthy cancer researcher who has conducted highly meritorious laboratory, translational, or clinical cancer research anywhere in the world at a relatively early stage in his or her career. It will honor the outstanding research of a young investigator who has not yet reached 46 years of age at the time of the presentation of the award.


Distinguished Scientist Receives Award for Lifetime Achievement

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recognized Mina J. Bissell, PhD, FAACR, with the 14th AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research.


Bissell, distinguished scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., is being honored for her pioneering work that identified the roles of the extracellular matrix and 3-D architecture in programs of gene expression in tissue morphogenesis and cancer. Her research contributions are widely recognized for launching the tumor microenvironment field and for revolutionizing cell and cancer biologists' perspective on the dominant forces in cancer.

Mina J. Bissell, PhD... - Click to enlarge in new windowMina J. Bissell, PhD, FAACR. Mina J. Bissell, PhD, FAACR

A champion of cancer research who has focused on understanding the underlying basis of cancer initiation and progression, Bissell developed a new paradigm that a cancer cell's microenvironment is as important to the process of carcinogenesis as the genetic defects that cause a given cell to become cancerous.


Her research on the comprehensive, biological causes of breast cancer has sparked an increasing number of discoveries associated with how the environment and neighboring cells of a cancer cell or tumor are able to influence the growth and spread of those particular cells. Her group has demonstrated that tissue architecture provides cancer-driving genes with instructions. In three-dimensional cultured human cells and in animals, breast cancer cells harboring tumor-driving mutations can be induced to behave normally if their microenvironment is restored to normal. They also have shown the relevance of polarity to tumor drug resistance. Whether these findings can be extrapolated to human therapy is now being explored.


The AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research was established in 2004 to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a body of work. These contributions, whether they have been in research, leadership, and/or mentorship, must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.


AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lecture Awarded

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) awarded the 13th AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship to Leonard I. Zon, MD, Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children's Hospital, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.


Zon is being honored for his scientific contributions to establishing zebrafish as an effective animal model system by which to study hematopoiesis and blood-related cancers and for his efforts associated with understanding fundamental stem cell biology, most notably with regards to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and migration.

Leonard I. Zon, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowLeonard I. Zon, MD. Leonard I. Zon, MD

"Dr. Zon is a world-renowned physician-scientist whose exceptional body of work has revolutionized cell biology," said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of AACR. "His pioneering research established the zebrafish as a model organism for studying hematopoietic development and disease, including many types of cancer. This created the foundation for countless studies dedicated to understanding the complexities of cancer initiation and progression, and the AACR is proud to honor Dr. Zon's extraordinary accomplishments with this prestigious award."


The AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship was established in 2004 to acknowledge an individual whose outstanding personal innovation in science and whose position as a thought leader in fields relevant to cancer research has the potential to inspire creative thinking and new directions in cancer research. The recipient is selected by the AACR President.


ACCR Presents Distinguished Public Service Award

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) presented an AACR Distinguished Public Service Award to W.E. "Ed" Bosarge Jr., PhD, in honor of his generous, unstinting contributions to cancer research, innovative medical and environmental science, and AACR. Bosarge is known for his transformative approaches to regenerative medicine in cancer research that utilize targeted therapies and personalized treatment paths.


The Distinguished Public Service Award honors the extraordinary contributions of an individual or group whose groundbreaking, innovative work exemplifies the AACR's mission to accelerate the prevention and cure of all cancers through research, education, communication, and collaboration. Distinguished public service takes many forms, and past winners have included generous philanthropists, government officials, advocates, and members of the media. Bosarge embodies the substance and spirit of this award.

W.E. Ed Bosarge Jr.,... - Click to enlarge in new windowW.E. "Ed" Bosarge Jr., PhD. W.E. "Ed" Bosarge Jr., PhD

"We are honored to acknowledge Dr. Bosarge's outstanding contributions to cancer research, and on behalf of the American Association for Cancer Research, we wish to extend to him our sincerest congratulations on this special recognition," said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of AACR. "Dr. Bosarge's early beginnings as a NASA scientist more than 6 decades ago helped shape the novel lens through which he views medical research. Without his extraordinary support, we would not have been able to establish the AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research in perpetuity. These precious funds will help AACR recognize the work of talented young investigators who have dedicated their careers to conquering cancer."


Ohio State Professor Recognized for Leadership & Extraordinary Achievements

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recognized Carlo M. Croce, MD, FAACR, with the 11th Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research.


Croce is the Director of the Institute of Genetics and Director of the Human Cancer Genetics Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics at The Ohio State University School of Medicine in Columbus. He is being recognized for his consistent and long-standing impact on the translation of fundamental cancer mechanisms to clinical applications. His many contributions to the field of cancer research have provided an important foundation for the identification of druggable targets and have been invaluable to advancements made toward cancer diagnosis and prognosis. Likewise, his research has masterfully translated chromosomal translocation breakpoints to strategies for cancer prevention, early detection, and therapy.

Carlo M. Croce, MD, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowCarlo M. Croce, MD, FAACR. Carlo M. Croce, MD, FAACR

The Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research was established in 2007 to recognize a true champion of cancer research whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research have had a major impact on the field. Such achievements may include scientific contributions to the acceleration of progress against cancer, significant accomplishments in the national or international awareness of the importance of cancer research, or other ways of demonstrating a sustained extraordinary commitment to cancer research.


SU2C Forms $12 Million Dream Team on Colorectal Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced the formation of a "Dream Team" of top researchers to take on one of the toughest challenges in cancer research and treatment: colorectal cancer, which is expected to claim the lives of more than 50,000 Americans this year.


The SU2C Colorectal Cancer Dream Team, with funding of up to $12 million from SU2C, will be led by Luis A. Diaz, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, as leader, and Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, Director of the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Conn.; Lewis Cantley, PhD, Director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York; and Zhenghe Wang, PhD, of the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, as co-leaders. More than 50 researchers at six institutions are involved in the team.


"Though a combination of new avenues in immunotherapy, targeted therapeutics, metabolomics, and precision prevention, we believe we can find new ways to fight colorectal cancer and bring new hope to patients," Diaz said.


The team's research program will also include clinical trials to investigate drugs that could attack genetic vulnerabilities in many types of colorectal cancer tumors. "The metabolism of cancer cells, how they process nutrients, is different from normal cells," Cantley said. "The trials are designed to take advantage of that knowledge and hopefully kill the cells."


Serving as Dream Team Principals are Ryan B. Corcoran, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and Nilofer S. Azad, MD, Johns Hopkins University. Serving as Dream Team Advocates are Anjee Davis, president, Fight Colorectal Cancer; Ivelisse M. Page, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Believe Big, Inc.; Joanna Fuchs, MD, patient advocate, Yale University; Martha Raymond, Executive Director, Michael's Mission; Thomas Herbert Marsilje; and Vanessa L. Whiting, President, A.E.S. Management Corp.


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