MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case CCC
Annual Meeting of Cancer Center Directors
The annual meeting of the cancer center directors with NCI Director, Dr. Harold Varmus, was held on March 11, 2014. Much of the information transmitted has been discussed in the Cancer Letter, and I ask that you refer to multiple issues between February and March where details are provided.
Center Directors Working Group Report
The report from the Center Directors Working Group was finally presented in near final form. This report will lead to changes in the structure of the core grant funding; a slight overall reduction is possible based on federal budgets. More important will be the reorganization of our application. We will keep up-to-date on this, but the result will be a much greater correlation between our merit score and the level of the funding award. For the moment though, we should be glad this is still three years off for us, by which time whatever happens will no longer be novel.
National Clinical Trials Network
Dr. Jim Doroshow from the NCI Center for Cancer Research presented some key information about the NCI National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). In a few weeks once we have our Notice of Award, Dr. Mitch Machtay will provide an overview of the impact on our lead academic center support for cooperative group clinical trials. Our application received one of the top scores, and our overall accrual is at the top of all cancer centers in the country. However, there are some key issues to point out:
- Overall funding for clinical trials matches that of the federal support for the NIH, meaning it is going down.
- Accrual to NCTN clinical trials will be about 3,600 pediatric patients and 14,000 adults nationally. This is a decrease from about 24,000 annually, which was the mainstay up until about 2011.
- The types of trials and approaches to clinical trial investigation will change quite profoundly. Luckily, we have a number of colleagues who are active in these debates and determinations, including Drs. Rob Dreicer, Eric Klein, Neal Meropol, and Mitch Machtay. As Mitch will describe, the Cancer Center will coordinate accrual and protocol review because the funding mechanism is now through the lead academic site grant.
NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
Dr. Varmus also discussed the reorganization of the SAIC Frederick National Laboratories, which has been renamed the NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research: frederick.cancer.gov/.
The capabilities of this facility are extraordinary and available for the benefit of cancer researchers, albeit with somewhat of a lag time. Assessment and support for new drugs is developed here under the NeXT program. Evaluation capabilities include NMR, nanotechnology, PK, imaging, and spectrometry. In addition, the RAS program has been initiated at this site and will involve multiple investigators.
Cancer Center researchers can take advantage of this resource through grant applications for funds within the NCI that are available to support collaborative research at the national lab. While these funds serve the betterment of researchers at our Cancer Center, the funds flow entirely to the national lab.
NIH Clinical Center
NCI-related resources to support collaborative clinical investigation are also available through the NIH Clinical Center. For instance the drug that I developed, TRC102, is now in a clinical trial at the NIH under the NCI CTEP Program. Special clinical trials could also be developed at the clinical center.
Each of the initiatives discussed above reflects the priorities of the NCI, and there are many points of contact for our research programs here at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. I hope you will take advantage of what they have to offer.
CASE CCC IN THE NEWS
Make Cancer Clinical Trials Smaller, Smarter, More Beneficial to Patients, ASCO Tells Researchers
The Plain Dealer - Mar 17, 2014
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is rolling out recommendations it says will improve the types of clinical trials needed to help cancer patients live longer and better..."I think there's been some frustration that some of the drugs developed – and ultimately approved – over the past decade provided only modest benefit to patients," said Dr. Neal Meropol, a co-author of the article and Case CCC Associate Director of Clinical Research and Professor and Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and CWRU School of Medicine... Although there have been vast improvements over the past 20 years, much more can be done, said Dr. Robert Dreicer, Chair of the Department of Solid Tumor Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic and Deputy Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Case CCC. "These recommendations are really reflecting what the clinical research community has known: We've gotten to a point where we need more than incremental advances," he said.
Surgery Outcomes for Pancreatic Cancer Presented at Society of Surgical Oncology Cancer Symposium
Medical News Today - Mar 17, 2014
Despite the benefits of surgery for early stage pancreatic cancer, it remains under-utilized for patients with this deadly disease, according to a new national analysis of trends and outcomes. Physician-scientists at UHCMC and CWRU presented their findings and strategies to increase rates at the Society of Surgical Oncology Cancer Symposium in Phoenix..."This study demonstrates the value of using the SEER database to analyze factors associated with surgery as a treatment for localized pancreatic cancer in a large number of patients over a prolonged period of time," said Case CCC member Julian Kim, MD, senior author of the study and Chief of Surgical Oncology and Chief Medical Officer of the UH Seidman Cancer Center and the Charles Hubay Professor at CWRU School of Medicine. "Our findings underscored the underutilization of this treatment modality in patients with this disease and identifies an opportunity to better educate patients and physicians about improvements in surgical outcomes."
Immunotherapies Promising But Still Challenging in CRPC
OncLive - Mar 17, 2014
Increasing efficacy with immunotherapies in some cancers led to the strategy being deemed Breakthrough of the Year by Science magazine in 2013. However, for Robert Dreicer, MD, and colleagues at the Interdisciplinary Prostate Cancer Congress (IPCC) held March 15, 2014, enthusiasm regarding these therapies for patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) comes with some reservations. While approved immunotherapy sipuleucel-T (Provenge) improved overall survival (OS) for patients with prostate cancer in a phase III trial, it is still finding its place in the arsenal of drugs used to treat the disease, and other immunotherapies tested in prostate cancer have been associated with some drawbacks, according to Dreicer, Chair of the Department of Solid Tumor Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic and Deputy Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Case CCC.
Changes in Clinical Research Operations Physician Leadership
Message from Neal Meropol, MD, Associate Director for Clinical Research, Case CCC
Due to expansion of the complexity of our clinical research infrastructure, we are undertaking two administrative changes.
Smitha Krishnamurthi, MD will assume the role of Medical Director of the Case CCC Clinical Research Office. In this role, she will work with Katarzyna Karelus, Administrative Director of the Case CCC Clinical Research Office, to oversee clinical research operations and committees, including CTRP registration, DSTC, OnCore, PRMC, and she will continue to provide oversight of the Clinical Trials Office that coordinates the hospital-based Clinical Trials Units.
Michael Gibson, MD, PhD will replace Dr. Krishnamurthi as Medical Director of the Seidman Cancer Center Clinical Trials Unit, working with SCC CTU Administrative Director Melissa Kadar.
Congratulations to Smitha on her expanded role, and welcome Michael to our leadership team!
McCrae and Schmaier Receive ASH Bridge Funding Awards
Two Cancer Center members, Drs. Keith McCrae and Alvin Schmaier, are among 15 researchers awarded one-year $100,000 grants from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) that will help sustain their research amidst severe funding reductions for the National Institutes of Health.
Twenty-nine scientists have received Bridge Grants since the program was created in July 2012, including Case CCC member Dr. Yu-Chung Yang, who was part of the first group of recipients. [more]
Meropol Recognized as ASCO Fellow
Neal Meropol, MD, Case CCC Associate Director for Clinical Research, was named as a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ACSO). This distinction recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to ASCO. The award will be presented at the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting during the Opening Session on Saturday, May 31.
Researchers Use "Big Data" to Identify Cancers
Researchers at CWRU and colleagues used "big data" analytics to predict if a patient is suffering from aggressive triple-negative breast cancer, slower-moving cancers or non-cancerous lesions with 95 percent accuracy.
If the tiny patterns they found in magnetic resonance images prove consistent in further studies, the technique may enable doctors to use an MRI scan to diagnose more aggressive cancers earlier and fast track these patients for therapy. Their work is published online in the journal Radiology.
The work comes just two months after senior author Anant Madabhushi, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering at CWRU School of Engineering and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, and another group of researchers showed they can detect differences between persistent and treatable forms of head and neck cancers caused by exposure to human papillomavirus, with 87.5 percent accuracy. In that study, digital images were made from slides of patients' tumors.
In addition, Madabhushi's lab recently received a $534,000, two-year grant from the Department of Defense to find the patterns of indolent versus aggressive cancer in the lungs. The goal is to diagnose the presence of aggressive lung cancers from CT scans alone. [more]
Taub Foundation Grants Program for Myelodysplastic Syndromes Research
The Taub Foundation Grants Program for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Research was created to support high-impact, innovative translational research to understand the underlying causes of MDS and to advance its treatment and prevention. The Program specifically focuses on MDS research, exclusive of AML and MPN.
Initial Proposal Deadline: March 25
V Foundation for Cancer Research: Translational Projects in Bladder Cancer
The V Foundation for Cancer Research: Translational Projects in Bladder Cancer is interested in funding a translational research project in the focus area of bladder cancer. The Case CCC has been invited to submit ONE LOI. All letters of intent will be considered by a subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Committee of The V Foundation and past grant recipients. After this review, three to five institutions will be invited to submit a grant proposal.
Anyone interested in applying for this grant should contact Kristin Waite (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible for more information.
Internal LOI Deadline: March 26
External LOI Deadline: April 30
Request for Proposals for Case CCC Funding for Pilot/Phase I Clinical Trials
The Case CCC is encouraging investigators to submit Letters of Intent (LOI) for Early Phase Clinical Research Support (EPCRS) funding. These in-house funds are available for the conduct of early phase clinical trials of relatively short duration. Priority will be given to trials which are developed jointly between UH and CCF with planned accrual at both institutions. (See revised NCI Cancer Center Support Grant EPCRS guidelines, page 43, Section 2.12). Please submit LOIs to Katarzyna Karelus, Case CCC Clinical Research Office, email@example.com, 216.844.4176.
LOI deadline: April 15
Prostate Cancer Foundation 2014 Movember-PCF Global Treatment Sciences (GTSN) Challenge Award For Metastatic Prostate Cancer
The Prostate Cancer Foundation has released a Request for Applications for the 2014 Movember-PCF Global Treatment Sciences (GTSN) Challenge Award For Metastatic Prostate Cancer. These 2-year awards will provide a total of $1 million per team and focus on funding Treatment Sciences: Investigations of new ideas in man or laboratory support of a high impact clinical investigation. Challenge Awards support large-scale research projects. Proposals must be from teams of at least 3 highly experienced investigators capable of providing unique scientific expertise to the solution of a significant problem in prostate cancer research. A team may be assembled from one or several institutions and must embed at least one young investigator as an integral contributor to the team.
Deadline: April 30
Harrington Discovery Institute
The Harrington Discovery Institute is accepting applications for the annual Harrington Scholar-Innovator Award, which recognizes physician-scientists throughout the US whose research has the potential to change standard of care. Applicants must have a doctorate in medicine, be on faculty at an accredited US-based academic institution, and must demonstrate exceptional promise.
LOI Deadline: May 2
Invited Application Deadline: August 1
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
National CENter for ReGenerAtive Medicine UnderGraduate StudEnt Summer Program (ENGAGE)
This is the seventh year the National CENter for ReGenerAtive Medicine UnderGraduate StudEnt Summer Program (ENGAGE) is being offered to promote and support undergraduate students' participation in research and creative projects within the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Proposed projects will be expected to match the complexity for what is accepted by SOURCE funding. This program is now open to all undergraduate students, not just CWRU students.
Mentors must be full NCRM members in order to qualify for funding. Projects that provide matching funds and reduce the overall cost of the student will be given higher consideration for inclusion into the program. Maximum awards are $3000 stipend plus $500 in material support. Part of the funding comes from a BMT:STEM Internship Program from the Great Lakes Science Center and with this comes a commitment for 2 ENGAGE students/labs to host a high school student and receive an additional $500 in material support. Contact Michael Gilkey (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Screening for Cancer in Women: 2014
Register today for Screening for Cancer in Women: 2014, Wednesday, May 21 from 8 am - 3:35 pm at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Independence.
Optimal strategies in cancer screening and detection are constantly evolving, and best practices are changing. This conference will feature speakers from health centers across Northeast Ohio working together to fight cancer, who will offer expert insight, updates, and advice on screening for cancer in women.
This comprehensive symposium is aimed at primary care providers and cancer specialists with updates that can be incorporated into their practices:
- New screening technologies, particularly to detect breast and lung cancer
- Current guidelines for colorectal, skin, lung, breast, and cervical cancer screening
- Impact of the Affordable Care Act
- Racial and economic disparities within cancer screening and detection
- When to refer a patient for a genetics referral or to a high-risk clinic
CME credit will be offered. Visit the conference website for more details and registration information.