I have an answer to the question you might be asking: "What ever happened at the External Advisory Board meeting November 20, 2015?"
Well to start, your Program Leaders worked hard to assemble and convey all of your incredible work so we could showcase a very active cancer center with remarkable contributions and even practice changing discoveries that will benefit patients and populations in short order. As is always the case, outside reviewers offer a different perspective and see us as we are, while providing thoughtful assessments and suggestions.
The Executive Committee and Program Leaders have the full report and will be responding to the suggestions made over the coming weeks and months. The EAB recognizes that we are entering the year prior to our renewal application and they focused on the areas that will impact that application and review.
We continue to be and present ourselves as a very strong - "outstanding" - cancer center. Each program boasts highly significant discoveries. For instance, the Program Leaders highlighted, and I have augmented, the following remarkable work (and there is much more!) from our members:
- Understanding the molecular basis of aspirin in colon cancer prevention (Fink & Markowitz)(Fink SP, et al. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Apr 23;6(233):233re2)
- Identifying the avidity of glioma stem cells to iron and the impact of blocking iron transport (Rich, Lathia, Fox)(Schonberg DL, et al. Cancer Cell. 2015 Oct 12;28(4):441-55)
- Assessing the role of LHRH agonists in ovary preservation in premenopausal breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to preserve pregnancy rates (Moore)(Moore HC, et al. N Engl J Med 2015; 372:923-932)
- Identifying the metabolism of abiraterone as a marker of response in men with prostate cancer (Sharifi & Garcia)(Li Z, et al. Nature. 2015 Jul 16;523(7560):347-51 )
- Discovering DDX41 as a mutated gene in both sporadic and familial AML and MDS (Sekeres, Makishima, Padgett, Phillips, Lindner, Jankowsky,Saunthararajah & Maciejewski)(Polprasert C, et al. Cancer Cell. 2015 May 11;27(5):658-70)
- Identifying genetic mutations in colon cancer that appear unique to African Americans (Guda, Willis, Fink & Markowitz)(Guda K, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015 Jan 27; 112(4): 1149-1154)
- Identifying unique genetic mutations in African Americans with colon cancer or with MDS and the negative impact these mutations has on survival (Sekeres, Hamilton, Maciejewski)(Saunthararajah Y, et al. J Clin Invest. 2015 Mar 2;125(3):1043-55)
- Synthesizing a gadolinium-nanoparticle that binds to fibronectin to identify micro-metastasis in breast cancer (Lu & Wilson)(Zhou Z, et al. Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 12;6:7984)
- Identifying the substantial cost-benefits of stepwise screening for Lynch syndrome in younger individuals with colon cancer. (Meropol & Kattan)(Barzai A, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Mar 20;107(4))
- Determining the impact of the Affordable Care Act on uptake of colonscopy and mammography screening. (Cooper, Schluchter, & Koroukian)(Cooper GS, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Dec 6;108(5))
All of these have ongoing exciting follow-on studies, whether they be a validation, therapeutic initiative, practice changing effort or direct impact on patient care. These are exactly what we want to be known for!
The EAB group did ask us to continue to emphasize multi-investigator efforts, to document programmatic activities and meetings, to show the value added by the Cancer Center, and encouraged us to use and continue to upgrade our shared resources.
They recognize the powerful therapeutic agent pipeline and appreciate that we have thought through plans for their continued development toward and through clinical applications. We also engaged in discussions about issues that are priorities at all of the NCI-designated cancer centers - sufficient support and efficiencies in clinical trials activity; how to manage genomics in personalized cancer care; bioinformatics and biorepository support and resources; and how to describe our attention to our catchment area in our presentation of our science.
You can help in all of these areas:
- Collaborate when you can and let us know how we can help you build your research team.
- Develop large-scale multi-investigator efforts, and think about transdisciplinary efforts across departments and institutions.
- Take advantage of imaging, nanotechnologies and genomics.
- Let us know when you are working with investigators at another cancer center or have a new multi-investigator project that has recently been funded or accepted for publication.
- Participate in clinical trial accrual if you are a clinician and write up those trials that are completed.
Our past successes promise an even more exciting year ahead. The most appealing aspect of my work is to promote and advocate for what you do. If there is something you need - administrative support, seed funds, an upgrade to a core- let me know and I will do my best to help you realize your great ideas into new discoveries and applications in cancer research.