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B.J. Rimel, MD, Named Medical Director at Cedars-Sinai Cancer Clinical Trials Office

Prominent gynecologic oncologist and surgeon B.J. Rimel, MD, has been named Medical Director of the Cedars-Sinai Cancer Clinical Trials Office. She will serve as a medical liaison between clinical trial principal investigators and leadership to ensure the quality of services provided to patients.


Also as Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, Rimel will evaluate principal investigator education to keep researchers up to date with regulatory conduct, and she will serve as the clinical trials spokeswoman for Cedars-Sinai Cancer.

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B.J. Rimel, MD. B.J.... - Click to enlarge in new windowB.J. Rimel, MD. B.J. Rimel, MD

"To be able to get this position from within the institution is incredibly meaningful to me," Rimel noted. "It is the culmination of extensive mentorship and deep faith that the path I've chosen as a physician and an investigator has been the right one."


That path began at Duke University School of Medicine, where Rimel earned her medical degree, followed by her residency at Northwestern University Medical School and a fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine.


"I was lucky to go straight from the fellowship to the role of principal investigator for our site on national clinical trials," Rimel said. The clinical trials in the gynecologic oncology division studied the effectiveness of combinations of targeted drugs for the treatment of ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. Participation on these trials led to FDA approval of two drugs.


Rimel joined the Cedars-Sinai Cancer faculty as a staff physician in 2011. The next year, she became Associate Director of Gynecologic Oncology Clinical Trials. Her research focuses on clinical trial accrual, recruitment, and informed consent. She helped create an online portal to streamline the clinical trial consent process and improve patient enrollment. In her new position, Rimel will tap her deep clinical trial research experience to help investigators overcome hurdles that inevitably arise.


"I am the person responsible for making sure our clinical trial 'ducks' are in a row," Rimel explained. "Medical questions come up as trials advance, and I will help investigators deal with those issues."


In addition to her clinical and research roles-she currently is the principal investigator on 14 clinical trials-Rimel has established consulting relationships with tech companies that obtain and analyze data about cancer patients to improve clinical trial equity. She also recently presented at a congressionally requested conference on the scope of cervical cancer treatment disparities in the U.S.


Rimel has presented more than 100 lectures, posters, and abstracts at symposia and conferences. Her talks focus on improving women's participation in clinical trials, as well as ovarian cancer prevention and screening. She has authored, co-authored, or participated in more than 50 peer-reviewed publications. In 2013, Rimel was honored with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Golden Apple Faculty Teaching Award and, in 2015, she received the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology National Faculty Award.


"With Dr. Rimel's appointment, we have an expert who will deftly lead the medical center's efforts to streamline patient access to clinical trials," said Robert A. Figlin, MD, Deputy Director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer. "The community and health system now have a strong advocate who will promote high-quality, high-impact opportunities for cancer patients' continuing care at Cedars Sinai."


Tampa General Hospital Welcomes Timothy Nywening, MD, & Alan Kerr, MD

Timothy Nywening, MD, surgical oncologist and physician-scientist, and Alan Kerr, MD, medical oncologist and physician-scientist, have joined Tampa General Hospital (TGH) Cancer Institute.


"The recruitment of highly trained physician-scientists like Dr. Nywening and Dr. Kerr will accelerate our efforts to become a world-class cancer research institute," said Eduardo M. Sotomayor, MD, Director of the TGH Cancer Institute.

Timothy Nywening, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowTimothy Nywening, MD. Timothy Nywening, MD
Alan Kerr, MD. Alan ... - Click to enlarge in new windowAlan Kerr, MD. Alan Kerr, MD

Nywening is no stranger to Florida. After obtaining his master's degree in biochemistry and molecular cell biology from Georgetown University, he earned his medical degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He later performed residency training in general surgery at Washington University's Barnes-Jewish Hospital, followed by a surgical oncology research fellowship in hepatobiliary, pancreatic, and gastrointestinal surgery at the university, where he won the Eugene Bricker Teaching Award. He also obtained a master's degree in population health sciences.


In addition, he joined Dr. David Linehan's tumor immunology laboratory, where his research led him to earn first place at the Samuel A. Wells Resident Research Day at Washington University School of Medicine in both 2015 and 2016. In addition, he authored or co-authored several research publications in top-tier scholarly journals and presented his translational work at numerous conferences and professional meetings nationwide.


From 2019 to 2021, Nywening completed two additional fellowships, first in complex general surgical oncology and then in hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Hillman Cancer Center, where he continued with his highly productive academic career as a surgical oncologist and physician-scientist before joining TGH Cancer Institute.


As a skilled surgical oncologist, Nywening brings to TGH invaluable surgical experience in a new area for the hospital: the hepatic artery infusion pump, which delivers chemotherapy directly to the liver. He also will handle complex liver and pancreas surgeries.


In addition to his particular focus on metastatic liver disease, he will perform a broad range of surgical oncology services, including enhancing services for hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), as well as therapies for advanced metastatic disease.


"With HIPEC, [we have] a unique ability to offer patients with diseases they may have thought were inoperable a chance for an operation that can significantly prolong their life, if not curing them," Nywening said. "Colorectal cancer is an area where a lot of progress has been made with this procedure."


In joining the TGH Cancer Institute, Nywening's top priority was to remain in an academic setting. "Tampa General and the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine provide the opportunity to remain on the cutting-edge of treatments and the ability to teach residents about surgical oncology. Being at a hospital that has this level of expertise, volume, and critical infrastructure gives doctors the ability to offer the latest in clinical trials," he noted. "And I expect to bring early clinical trials to TGH Cancer Institute in collaboration with colleagues and biotech companies I have conducted research with in the past."


Nywening is an advocate of the cross-specialty collaboration and multidisciplinary approach that exists at TGH, with highly skilled radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, and pathologists creating the foundation of an exceptional cancer institute. He likens the role of a surgical oncologist to that of a quarterback.


"The surgical oncologist lays out all the options to the patient, forming a generalized approach of where the patient should be-and how the team is going to get them there," he said. "Then that person works with other experts on the team to develop a plan to provide the best possible care."


With a sister who is a survivor of sarcoma, Nywening hopes to expand his laboratory and translational research to develop innovative clinical trials for soft tissue sarcomas and melanomas. His overarching interest as an oncological surgeon always has been in treating patients with advanced diseases who have run out of therapeutic options and giving them renewed hope.


A passionate expert in chemistry and biochemistry, Kerr has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Louisville. While studying the role of steroid receptors, growth factor, and signaling pathways in cancers, he rapidly realized the importance of translating basic scientific discoveries into patient care and found his calling to become a physician-scientist and implement "bench-to-bedside" translation.


Kerr received his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine and completed his residency training there in internal medicine, where he served as Chief Medical Resident. In 2016, he completed a hematology and medical oncology fellowship program with Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida, where he served as Chief Fellow. He is no stranger to TGH, having done his continuity clinic work at the hospital with a focus on hematologic malignancies, in particular in lymphomas.


As a talented physician-scientist, Kerr has authored or co-authored original research publications in top-tier scientific and clinical journals and presented his translational findings, including seminal work in a rare form of hematologic malignancies named blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm, at numerous conferences in the U.S. and overseas.


In 2019, he joined the Advanced Cancer Treatment Centers in Brooksville, Fla., where he provided clinical care to an underserved rural patient population and continued with his research activities as principal investigator of several clinical trials for patients with solid malignancies and lymphomas.


"The cancer field is changing rapidly, and because Tampa General serves the Tampa Bay region and beyond, that will allow me to offer clinical trials to patients in areas who normally wouldn't have access, especially patients with relapse/refractory disease," Kerr said. "It's heartbreaking when you see underserved patients not receive the level of care they need. But with all the resources Tampa General has, we are in a unique position to provide care to these patients in need. For me, that is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work."


The ability to return to an academic medical center to teach and be actively involved in giving resident lectures, board reviews for residents, working with residents and fellows in clinic, and providing inpatient care is especially exciting for Kerr. "I have a strong desire to have residents and fellows directly involved in clinical practice and translational research," he noted. "That helped me learn a lot during my own training."


Kerr and Nywening, together with the TGH Cancer Institute physician team, will offer a highly coordinated range of multidisciplinary specialties, such as hematologic malignancies, stem cell and cellular therapies, as well as thoracic oncology, breast, colorectal, and gynecologic oncology. Advanced subspecialties will be offered as well, including liver and hepatobiliary oncology, otolaryngology, and genitourinary.


Jeffrey Peppercorn, MD, MPH, Named Editor-in-Chief of JCO Oncology Practice

Jeffrey Peppercorn, MD, MPH, has been appointed as the next Editor-in-Chief of JCO Oncology Practice (JCO OP), an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) journal. JCO OP publishes impactful information and insights to keep oncology practice current on changes and challenges inherent in delivering equitable, high-quality oncology care with an evolving value-based lens.


"I am delighted that Dr. Peppercorn has accepted this opportunity to lead JCO Oncology Practice," said ASCO President Everett Vokes, MD, FASCO. "He is a highly accomplished oncologist who has demonstrated excellence in research and analyzing issues such as quality of care, cost, and access to care. He understands the numerous strengths of the journal and the factors necessary to grow its reach as a premier cancer publication."

Jeffrey Peppercorn, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowJeffrey Peppercorn, MD, MPH. Jeffrey Peppercorn, MD, MPH.

Peppercorn is a medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center in Boston. His academic work involves both research and analysis of issues of health care delivery, access to care, cost, policy, and bioethics. Peppercorn served as Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology for over a decade and led the taskforce that founded the Value in Cancer Care Committee of the Alliance. While serving in multiple roles related to health services research within ASCO and the Alliance, he also participated in multiple Institute of Medicine panels on issues of cost and access to care.


Currently, the inaugural Director of Supportive Care and Survivorship for the MGH Cancer Center, Peppercorn was also the founding Director of the Duke Cancer Institute Survivorship Program. In these roles, he has been engaged in both research and quality improvement initiatives. Peppercorn has been involved in international efforts to address cost of cancer care and participated in the ASCO Value Task Force that produced ASCO's value framework. He has authored or co-authored over 15 papers.


"Dr. Peppercorn's expertise gives him a broad view that will enable him to continue the journal's development by helping oncology professionals stay current in the face of new challenges and a rapidly changing care delivery system," said ASCO Chief Executive Officer, Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO. "We are proud to warmly welcome him to JCO Oncology Practice as Editor-in-Chief."


Peppercorn received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency in internal medicine at MGH and his fellowship in hematology/oncology in the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/MGH combined program and in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College in History and Science and continues to teach in the ethics and the profession courses at Harvard Medical School.


"I am extremely excited to lead JCO Oncology Practice as its next Editor-in-Chief and grateful to ASCO for this opportunity. This journal is dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities we face in delivering high-quality, accessible cancer care to all patients," said Peppercorn. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on the JCO OP staff and editorial board to making this the premier oncology journal for health services, care delivery, quality, ethics, and policy research and continuing its role as essential reading for every oncology clinician."