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Oncology Times Columnist Receives Nicholas E. Davies Memorial Scholar Award

Based on the recommendation of the American College of Physicians (ACP) Awards Committee, the Board of Regents selected Wendy S. Harpham, MD, FACP, as the 2017-2018 recipient of the Nicholas E. Davies Memorial Scholar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Humanism in Medicine.


The award honors the late Dr. Nicholas E. Davies, former Regent and President-Elect of ACP. It is given for outstanding scholarly activities in history, literature, philosophy, and ethics and contributions to humanism in medicine.

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Wendy S. Harpham, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowWendy S. Harpham, MD, FACP. Wendy S. Harpham, MD, FACP

The recipient shall possess some of the characteristics for which Davies was well-known and respected: warmth, compassion, idealism, and energy, according to ACP. The recipient must have deep awareness of the importance of humanism, particularly poetry and history, as one important avenue to the needs of the physician as he or she deals with human issues in health, illness, and death.


Harpham is an internist, cancer survivor, and author as well as writer of Oncology Times' award-winning column, "View From the Other Side of the Stethoscope." Harpham's books include Diagnosis Cancer, After Cancer, When a Parent Has Cancer, and Only 10 Seconds to Care: Help and Hope for Busy Clinicians. She lectures on "Healthy Survivorship." Harpham's mission is to help others through the synergy of science and caring.


The award will be presented April 19 at the Convocation Ceremony during ACP's Internal Medicine Meeting 2018 in New Orleans.


ASCO President Elected for 2019-2020 Term

Howard A. "Skip" Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO, a long-time member and volunteer, has been elected to serve as President of ASCO for the term beginning in June 2019. He will take office as President-Elect during the ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago in June 2018.


"It is a tremendous honor to be elected ASCO President by my peers and I am grateful for their trust and support," said Burris. "ASCO is a vital organization not only for physicians, but also for patients and all of those entities working in the fight against cancer. I am hopeful that my unique background will allow me to serve as a bridge between the many stakeholders participating in this important cause of advancing therapies and reducing the burden of cancer in the world."

Howard A. Skip Burri... - Click to enlarge in new windowHoward A. "Skip" Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO. Howard A. "Skip" Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO

An active ASCO member since 1991, Burris is President of Clinical Operations and Chief Medical Officer for Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. He is an associate of Tennessee Oncology, PLLC, where he practices medical oncology.


Burris has served on both the ASCO Board of Directors and Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Board of Directors, and has served as Chair of the Cancer Research Committee, the Nominating Committee, the Research Community Forum Council, and as Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee. His committee memberships have included the Cancer Education, Scientific Program, Audit, and Sponsorship Committees, among others. Burris was named a Fellow of ASCO (FASCO) in 2010.


Community Mourns Loss of Founder of Pyscho-Oncology

The T.J. Martell Foundation has lost a remarkable woman who played an integral role in the fight against cancer. Jimmie C. Holland, MD, Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York passed away Dec. 24, 2017.


Holland was a trailblazer in the field of medicine. As the founder of the sub-specialty of psycho-oncology in 1977, Holland launched the Psychiatry Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and, under her leadership, Memorial's Psychiatry Service became the country's leading training and research program dedicated to the field.

Jimmie C. Holland, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowJimmie C. Holland, MD. Jimmie C. Holland, MD

Holland received the T.J. Martell Foundation's Pioneer Award at the Foundation's Women of Influence Awards in 2015 for her leadership and vision of founding one of the most important areas of cancer research, psycho-oncology.


"Jimmie was a major force in our scientific research platform for the T.J. Martell Foundation," said Laura Heatherly, CEO of the organization. "She was a special leader, mentor, and pioneer that helped many people. She will be sorely missed by us all."


Vanderbilt Professor Elected to ASCO Nominating Committee

W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius A. Craig Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), has been elected to the Nominating Committee for ASCO.


Members of the ASCO Nominating Committee help review the qualifications of industry-leading professionals to develop a slate of candidates for elected positions within ASCO, including the president-elect, treasurer, directors, and new members of the Nominating Committee. Rathmell will serve a 3-year term on the nine-member committee.

W. Kimryn Rathmell, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowW. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD. W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

"I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to work with this organization to ensure its leadership is comprised of individuals ready to tackle the problems of the future. Oncology is exploding with innovations and promises for a different future for patients with cancer," Rathmell said. "These opportunities come with challenges as well in financing health care; access to life-saving treatments; education of our trainees; and communication among providers, health care systems, and the global cancer community. The next several years in oncology will continue to be marked by rapid growth and I am looking forward to working with ASCO to facilitate these advances."


Rathmell is a genitourinary oncologist who specializes in treating patients with kidney cancer. She also operates a research laboratory focused on biological mechanisms that drive renal cell carcinomas. Her research uses genetic techniques to study tumor-initiating events and the development of invasive or metastatic features using in vitro, animal, and human systems. This basic and translational research, all geared toward enhancing understanding of the genetics and molecular biology of kidney cancer, is folded into a clinical research program at VUMC and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.


Rathmell also holds a passion for research advocacy and mentorship of the next generation of medical researchers. She currently serves as the Vice President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and is a board representative for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.


As an ASCO member, she has previously served on the ethics committee and a taskforce for early career development. At Vanderbilt, she co-leads a K-12 program for clinical oncology researcher development.


AICR Awards Grants to Investigate Links Between Lifestyle & Cancer

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has awarded approximately $1.1 million in scientific research grants to seven innovative projects, all designed to better understand the relationship of diet, weight management, and physical activity to cancer prevention and survivorship.


"Thanks to contributions from our committed donors, we are able to fund a range of topics and strengthen the science on cancer prevention and survivorship," said Kelly Browning, CEO of AICR. "The collective efforts of these researchers will help us make significant scientific advances in understanding how lifestyle factors impact cancer risk."


Grant recipients were selected through a competitive application process overseen by an independent review panel of experts. The diverse research topics focus on a variety of cancers in women and men, and identify a wide array of most common risk factors and their impact on prevention, survivorship, and recurrence.


"We are so excited about our new grantees because each of the studies holds promise for making a real difference in how to prevent and survive cancer," said AICR's Director of Research Nigel Brockton, PhD. "It is our critical mission to fund scientists to explore and examine new areas of research in order to understand cancer risk better."


Over 3 decades, AICR-funded research has helped transform how the scientific and medical communities think about cancer. AICR has contributed more than $107 million in supporting a pipeline of studies conducted at universities, hospitals, and research centers.


The AICR 2018 grantees include the following individuals:


* Michael De Lisio, PhD, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine: The Effects of Obesity and Exercise on Radiation-Induced Leukemia. De Lisio's project addresses the important issue of late effects of cancer therapy. Specifically, he and his team will evaluate how obesity and exercise mitigate the risk of radiation-induced leukemia.


* James Fleet, PhD, Purdue University: Regulation of Tumor Cell Evasion From Immune Surveillance By Vitamin D. Fleet's team hypothesizes that low vitamin D status alters the immune system in ways that help tumors evade immune surveillance. Through the use of mice, they will test whether low vitamin D signaling makes it harder for the immune system to attack tumor cells. This research is an early test of a simple intervention that might improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy.


* Jeanine Genkinger, PhD, Columbia University: Weight Loss, Gain, and Cycling, Dietary and Lifestyle Patterns and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer. Genkinger will examine whether 1) weight loss, gain, and cycling; and 2) adherence to dietary and lifestyle patterns affect pancreatic cancer risk. Merging data from over 12 cohorts, the team will study diet, body weight, and pancreatic cancer in the Pooling Project of Prospective Studies of Diet and Cancer. By addressing these research questions, the results will provide the most complete evidence on these important factors and advance knowledge about these factors for a highly fatal disease.


* Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: Association Between Lifestyle Factors and Tumor Angiogenesis in Prostate Cancer. Giovannucci will examine how dietary factors are associated with the degree of blood vessels in the tumor, measured among men by how they have had their prostate removed. This study will inform on novel prostate cancer prevention strategies through diet so that, in the future, men could be advised which dietary factors may help prevent prostate cancer from progressing.


* Angela Murphy, PhD, University of South Carolina: Sex-Specific Differences in Obesity Enhanced Colorectal Cancer. Murphy will examine estrogen's regulation of inflammation as a potential mechanism for this response. Understanding the mechanisms that drive the sex-specific differences in obesity-enhanced colorectal cancer will help develop targeted treatments.


* Connie Rogers, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University: Mechanisms Underlying the Protective Effect of Exercise on Primary Mammary Tumor Growth and Metastases: Role of Metabolic and Immune-Mediated Processes. This proposal will address the issue of the "dose" or amount of diet and exercise necessary to achieve a cancer prevention effect, specifically with respect to breast cancer prevention.


* Kathryn Wilson, ScD, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: Coffee Intake and Advanced Prostate Cancer: Studying Risk and Mechanisms. Through combining data from 15 studies, researchers will examine coffee intake and risk of prostate cancer and study how coffee impacts prostate tissue. Establishing whether coffee is associated with reduced prostate cancer risk will give men information on how to prevent the disease, and might also shed light on the biology of prostate cancer.



Dana-Farber Names Brock-Wilson Family Chair

Ursula Matulonis, MD, has been named the first incumbent of the Brock-Wilson Family Chair at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. The newly established Chair was created to advance gynecologic oncology research and support a highly dedicated faculty member at Dana-Farber.


Matulonis is the Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Brock-Wilson Family Chair is the first at Dana-Farber devoted to this class of women's cancers and, as its leader, Matulonis will continue to pursue innovative early detection and treatment approaches, as well as improved outcomes for patients with gynecologic cancers.

Ursula Matulonis, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowUrsula Matulonis, MD. Ursula Matulonis, MD

In making the announcement, Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, President and CEO of Dana-Farber said, "An exceptionally talented investigator, Ursula is a world-class leader in clinical and translational research in gynecologic oncology, aimed at developing targeted therapies against ovarian cancer. Working with her premier team, she is leading the field in the development of clinical trials to advance the most promising drug combinations."


Matulonis also serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Recommendation and Guideline Committee for ovarian cancer, the Massachusetts Ovarian Cancer Task Force, the NRG Oncology ovarian committee, and the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance and the Clearity Foundation. She received the Dennis Thompson Compassionate Care Scholar Award, the Lee M. Nadler "Extra Mile" Award, and the Zakim Award for patient advocacy.


The Brock-Wilson Family Chair was established by Jane Brock-Wilson, a Dana-Farber Trustee and advocate for the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers.


ACS Institutional Research Grant Winners Announced

Fox Chase Cancer Center and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, both in Philadelphia, recently announced the winners of its American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (IRG) Pilot Project Competition for Junior Investigators. The competition was open to eligible junior faculty at Fox Chase and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.


This year's awardees are Sergei Grivennikov, PhD, Assistant Professor at Fox Chase, Rongsheng (Ross) Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and Elias Obeid, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, at Fox Chase.


Grivennikov's winning project was, "The Role of Interleukin 17RB Signaling in Colitis Associated Colon Cancer." Wang earned the award for, "Novel Protein Agents for Image-Guided Cancer Therapy."

Sergei Grivennikov, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowSergei Grivennikov, PhD. Sergei Grivennikov, PhD
Rongsheng (Ross) Wan... - Click to enlarge in new windowRongsheng (Ross) Wang, PhD. Rongsheng (Ross) Wang, PhD
Elias Obeid, MD, MPH... - Click to enlarge in new windowElias Obeid, MD, MPH. Elias Obeid, MD, MPH

Obeid received a Special Interest Award for his proposal, "Exploring the Prostate Cancer Genome in Men of African Descent." The Special Interest Award provides support for psychosocial and behavioral research, health policy or health services research, cancer in the poor and medically underserved, and childhood cancer.


The purpose of the IRG is to provide seed money for the initiation of promising new projects by newer investigators so they can leverage preliminary results that enable them to compete successfully for national research grants. Each award provides funding of $60,000 over 2 years.


"We thank the American Cancer Society for supporting our researchers at the early stage of their careers," said Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Fox Chase. Chernoff serves as principal investigator of the American Cancer Society grant and chair of the review committee for the competition.


Feinstein Institute Grant Funds Fertility Decision Tool for Women Cancer Patients

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Assistant Professor Catherine Benedict, PhD, has been awarded a 2-year, $165,000 grant from the NIH to understand how young women who completed cancer treatment make fertility decisions and plan for future family building.


This study will lead to the development of a decision-making and planning tool to help young survivors evaluate their options for having children after cancer. This current study is a continuation of Benedict's research, which found that young adult females who survive cancer do not receive enough information about their fertility as part of their survivorship care.

Catherine Benedict, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowCatherine Benedict, PhD. Catherine Benedict, PhD

There are more than 400,000 young adult female cancer survivors currently living in the U.S. One of this population's main concerns after treatment is fertility since many cancer treatments have been associated with infertility issues and place women at greater risk for early menopause. Benedict's research will examine fertility decision-making after cancer treatment to ensure that patients receive the information they need and take appropriate steps for successful family building.


"Even if young women make some fertility plans before undergoing cancer treatment, many are still unclear of how to navigate their options post-treatment when they actually want to plan for a family," said Benedict, who is also a member of the new Center for Health Innovations and Outcomes Research. "They are often surprised with the cost of fertility treatments, unsure if they will go through early menopause or unaware of their options as a whole. I thank the NIH for their support-this will help us develop a tool that can weigh the medical facts with other considerations and help our patients develop a tailored fertility plan."


Benedict and her team will collect data about how young women after cancer treatment make decisions about future family building, their decision-support needs, as well as preferences and perceived barriers to making a choice. This will be used to create a web-based tool to help guide female cancer survivors through the decision-making process about their fertility options.


"This is novel and innovative work," said Michael A. Diefenbach, PhD, Professor at the Feinstein Institute, Director of Behavioral Research in the Department of Medicine at Northwell Health and Benedict's mentor. "The existing research focuses on informing patients about fertility implications of cancer treatment before their treatment starts. Benedict and others have clearly demonstrated that women at this point in their life are less able to make decisions about children. They are too focused on getting through treatment and beating cancer. From a decision standpoint, the time after treatment is better suited for planning and decision-making, but is often overlooked by health care providers to inform patients."


"Dr. Benedict's previous research identified a large need in survivor care for young female cancer survivors," said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, President and CEO of the Feinstein Institute. "The NIH's investment in the next phase of this research is a major step to filling this need and improving care for this patient population."


The recently formed Center for Health Innovations and Outcomes Research at the Feinstein Institute leverages technology and big data to deliver new solutions that improve health care delivery.


"Dr. Benedict's study is an example of how our researchers in the Center for Heath Innovation and Outcomes Research are driving the mission to improve delivery of health care," said Thomas McGinn, MD, MPH, Head of the Center for Health Innovations and Outcomes Research at the Feinstein Institute and Senior Vice President of Physician Network Operations at Northwell Health. "We are proud to have the NIH's support in this endeavor, which will provide patients with private, individualized support through devices that are familiar to them."


CTCA at Midwestern Regional Awarded Five-Star Quality Rating by CMS

Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) was awarded a Five-Star Quality rating by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).


The ratings, published by CMS and designed to help consumers compare hospitals, evaluated patient experiences at more than 4,000 hospitals nationwide. CTCA at Midwestern was one of only nine percent of eligible hospitals in the U.S. to receive the overall Five-Star rating for the duration of December 2017 to July 2018. The national average is three out of five stars.


The hospital rating system, publicly launched in 2016 by CMS, assigns hospitals one to five stars. The overall summary rating is based on a cumulative score from 57 quality measures across seven different areas, including mortality, readmission, safety of care, patient experience using the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, efficient use of medical imaging, and timeliness and effectiveness of care. CTCA at Midwestern performed above the national average in categories of safety of patient care (measuring infection prevention) and patient experiences (measuring items such as physician and nursing communication, pain management, cleanliness of hospitals, and more).


"We are proud to be recognized by CMS for our high quality of care and patient satisfaction scores," said Scott Jones, President and CEO of CTCA at Midwestern. "Clinical outcomes, safety, and patient satisfaction are all factors that people should consider when selecting a facility for cancer care."


"We place a strong emphasis on patient safety and satisfaction. Every single employee, from our physicians and Magnet Recognized nursing staff to our environmental services team, makes these areas a personal responsibility," added Alanna Poirier, Director of Quality and Risk Management at CTCA at Midwestern. "The Five-Star Quality Score reflects this commitment to our patients."


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