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January 12, 2015


Dr. Stan GersonStan Gerson, MD
Director, Case CCC

Case GI SPORE Study Identifies New Gene Mutations Linked to Colorectal Cancer in African American Patients

Though we are only a couple weeks into 2015, our Center already is setting a good pace for collaborative research in the the coming year.

A team of researchers from the Case GI SPORE have discovered that colon cancers in African Americans are molecularly a different disease than colon cancers in Caucasians. In fact, 40% of colon cancers in African Americans have mutations that are never seen, or are rarely seen, in colon cancers from Caucasians. The findings were just published today in the January 12 edition of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), and are already attracting attention.

These findings brings us one step closer to being able to better treat colon cancer in African Americans, who have the highest incidence and death rates of any group for this disease. Though much progress has been made, this study is just the beginning, and could lay the groundwork for the development drugs that might be particularly effective against tumors that bear these particular mutations.

Every day, our Center brings together researchers and gives them the opportunity to conduct research in a collaborative environment, with the common goal of better understanding cancer and how to fight or possibly prevent it. As leader of the Case GI SPORE, I asked Dr. Sandy Markowitz for some comments on the study. I believe he summarized the purpose of the SPORE and Cancer Centers perfectly: "This achievement highlights the importance of translational research for getting answers about human diseases, and it highlights the importance of mechanisms such as the Case GI SPORE, that brings together the incredibly talented team with the entire range of skills that is needed to take a question all the way from the bedside, and from a colon cancer surgery, to the lab, to the DNA sequencer, to the computer analysis, to find a meaningful answer."

Congratulations to Sandy, study co-leaders Drs. Joseph Willis and Zhenghe John Wang, lead author Dr. Kishore Guda, and all other co-authors and Case GI SPORE members. Way to start the year off right.

Message from Harold Varmus, MD, Director, National Cancer Institute (NCI)

As we are looking towards plans for 2015, I want to be sure you all saw the message below from Harold Varmus. His message includes information that is relevant to all of us, and mentions areas of particular importance to the NCI. Though the funding climate is still tough, it is encouraging to see Dr. Varmus specifically mention NCI-designated Cancer Centers as "a critical resource for the entire cancer research effort." Please also take a look at the proposed plan budget for 2016 to see what may be in store for the "bypass budget" year.  

To NCI staff, grantees, and advisors:

Now that the new year has begun in earnest, I am writing to send seasonal greetings and offer my views about the near-term prospects for cancer research.

This year, unlike most recent years, we are in the fortunate position of having received our appropriation for the rest of the fiscal year within the first quarter, helping us to plan and manage use of those funds.  Although this year's appropriation ($4.95 B) is slightly larger than last year's (by about 0.6%), the increase is less than the rate of inflation, as has been the case nearly every year since 2003.  This signifies further erosion of the NCI's "buying power" at a time when cancer research is becoming more expensive, expanding in new directions, and showing unprecedented promise.

As a result, we who lead the NCI face a difficult dilemma: how to provide sufficient resources to our grantees to allow them to accomplish their ambitious goals, without reducing the numbers of awards we can make-further attenuating the cancer research community.  Moreover, the recent, rapid growth in knowledge about cancer-its genetic basis, the signaling pathways that govern cell misbehavior, immune responses to cancer cells-is a spur to the development of new approaches and new programs that are difficult to finance under current circumstances without reducing support for existing worthwhile programs.

Despite these recurrent anxieties, the new calendar year promises to be pivotal and exciting for the NCI.  We will be reviewing the first round of applications for the new Outstanding Investigator Award, which is intended to provide more stable funding for some of our best scientists.  The newly reorganized National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN), in close collaboration with the reconfigured NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), will be expanding an array of scientifically informed trials-MATCH, MPACT, ALCHEMIST, and others-that will accelerate the on-going transformation of cancer therapy as a part of the broader movement to "precision medicine."  This transformation of oncology will proceed hand-in-hand with improvements in bioinformatics (helped by NCI's new cloud computation pilots and our membership in the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health [GA4GH]); with expanded genomic studies of pediatric and common adult cancers and the creation of a Genomic Data Commons; and with rapidly increasing knowledge about how to manipulate the immune system to treat cancers.

While we celebrate these prospects, the NCI will also remain deeply engaged in confronting the problems created by growth of the scientific community in a time of fiscal constraint.  At the forthcoming NCI Leadership Retreat in late January, we will be discussing some potential solutions to these challenges: new mechanisms to accelerate the training of the most promising young investigators; grants to encourage the careers of staff scientists; the merits and liabilities of some of the current grant mechanisms for supporting research; trends in NCI's support of basic science; and various ways to enhance the diversity of the research community.

Throughout the coming year, we also expect to be giving close attention to the funding of NCI-designated cancer centers, a critical resource for the entire cancer research effort; to implementation of recommendations emerging from a recent evaluation of the NIH intramural program; to new ideas for preventing, screening for, and monitoring cancers; to proposals for new initiatives at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research; and to the evaluation of the Provocative Questions program as it enters its third year of grant-making.

Many of these topics and others are summarized in broad terms in NCI's recently issued budget plan for FY2016 (the so-called "bypass budget proposal"), which can be viewed on line at  In all of these domains, we seek the views of those we serve-extra- and intramural scientists, cancer research advocates, the health care community, and the general public-and we welcome your comments at

With best wishes for the new year,

Harold Varmus
Director, NCI


Secondary Analysis of RTOG 0247 Demonstrates Favorable Overall Survival Rates for Rectal Cancer Patients
Medical XPress - Jan 9, 2015
Locally advanced rectal cancer patients who receive preoperative radiation therapy with either irinotecan plus capecitabine or oxaliplatin plus capecitabine have a four-year overall survival rate of 85 percent and 75 percent, respectively, according to a study published in the January 1, 2015 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics (Red Journal), the official scientific journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). This study is a secondary endpoint analysis of Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0247, originally published in 20121, to evaluate long-term survival outcomes and patterns of failure..."Our new analysis of RTOG 0247 provides us with favorable efficacy results of two preoperative chemotherapy regimens used in conjunction with radiation therapy protocols," said Neal J. Meropol, MD, co-author of the study, and the Dr. Lester E. Coleman Jr., Professor of Cancer Research and Therapeutics and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Meropol is also Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "These favorable long-term survival rates confirm that both of these concurrent chemoradiotherapy regimens followed by surgery can be a highly curative approach for patients with localized rectal cancer, despite the low pCR results we reported in 2012. It is important to find new biomarkers beyond the local remission rate that can help us determine which patients will be cured and who may benefit from more aggressive therapy following chemoradiation."

Appendix Cancer, the Rare Disease that Struck Down ESPN's Stuart Scott: A Q&A - Jan 6, 2015
The death of ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott from appendix cancer on Sunday was the first time that many people had ever heard of the rare disease. Diagnosis in late 2007, following an emergency appendectomy, Scott underwent two surgeries and six months of chemotherapy. The cancer returned in 2011 and 2013. In a tribute posted on its website, ESPN reported that Scott, 49, had undergone surgery yet again just last summer...Q: Is there a screening test for cancer of the appendix? No. "Most often it's found incidentally," said Dr. Dale Shepard, a hematologist-oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, which sees a few dozen cases of appendix cancer each year. "Someone will come into the emergency room with vague abdominal pain and will get a scan and physicians will happen to find it." Or, after an appendectomy, a subsequent pathology review of the organ will find evidence of a cancerous tumor, Shepard said.

Cultural Competency Series

Understanding Cultural Competency: Definitions and Concepts

To engage in a meaningful dialogue about the importance of cultural competency in the context of health care and research, one must first understand the general concepts and definitions that form the basis of cultural competency.   

The January 12 edition of the Cultural Competency Series will introduce the following definitions and concepts:

  • Culture
  • Cultural competency
  • Cultural competency as a process
  • Importance of cultural competency
  • Difference cultural competency makes in health care and medical research
  • Elements contributing to a system's cultural competency
  • Difference between cultural competency and other related terms

The feature also provides steps and suggestions to start your cultural competency journey. Visit the Cancer Center website to view the January 12 edition of the Cultural Competency Series

Questions, suggestions and feedback about the Cultural Competency Series should be directed to Katarzyna Karelus at or 216.844.4176.


Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network 2015 Young Investigator Awards

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network is now accepting applications for the 2015 Young Investigator Awards. The $100,000 grants will cover costs associated with a two-year bladder cancer-specific research proposal. The purpose of this grant is to support the development of outstanding research scientists and clinical cancer research investigators who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the understanding and treatment of bladder cancer. Investigators may be working in basic, translational, clinical, epidemiologic, bioengineering or any other field, but must be working in a research environment capable of supporting transformational bladder cancer research.
Deadline: March 4, 2015

Limited Submission: National Science Foundation Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR)

The National Science Foundation Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR) Program provides funds: 1) for improvements to secure, improve, and organize collections that are significant to the NSF BIO-funded research community; 2) to secure collections-related data for sustained, accurate, and efficient accessibility of the collection to the biological research community; and 3) to transfer collection ownership responsibilities.

The CSBR program provides for enhancements that secure and improve existing collections, result in accessible digitized specimen-related data, and develop better methods for specimen curation and collection management. Requests should demonstrate a clear and urgent need to secure the collection, and the proposed activities should address that need. Biological collections supported include established living stock/culture collections, vouchered non-living natural history collections, and jointly-curated ancillary collections such as preserved tissues and DNA libraries.
Internal Deadline: March 23, 2015
External Deadline: July 13, 2015


AACR-Ocular Melanoma Foundation Fellowship, in honor of Robert C. Allen, MD
Deadline: January 12, 2015

Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship Program
Deadline: January 13, 2015

Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award
LOI Deadline: January 14, 2015

Avon Foundation for Women Breast Cancer Research 2015 Program
Deadline: January 15, 2015

International Association of the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC)
Deadline: January 15, 2015

Radiological Society of North America
Deadline: January 15, 2015

CTSC Annual Pilot Program
LOI Deadline: January 15, 2015

GI SPORE: Request for Project Proposals
Deadline: January 16, 2015

Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Career Development Awards for Translational Breast Cancer Research
Deadline: January 20, 2015

American Institute for Cancer Research Investigator-Initiated Grants
Deadline: January 26, 2015

AACR-Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Career Development Award for Clinical/Translational Research
Deadline: January 27, 2015

Debbie's Dream Foundation-AACR Gastric Cancer Research Fellowships
Deadline: January 27, 2015

American Brain Tumor Association Medical Student Summer Fellowships
Deadline: January 28, 2015

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Translational Research Program (TRP)
LOI Deadline: February 15, 2015
Application Deadline: March 1, 2015

Lila and Murray Gruber Memorial Cancer Research Award
Deadline: February 28, 2015

Ohio Cancer Research Associates
Deadline: February 28, 2015

Myeloma Research Foundation
Deadline: March 1, 2015

Worldwide Cancer Research
Deadline: April 24, 2015

International Union Against Cancer (UICC) International Cancer Technology Transfer Fellowships
Application Deadline: Open

International Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia Foundation (IWMF) Research Grant Program
Application Deadline: Open

Solving Kids' Cancer Therapeutic Development Initiative
Application Deadline: Open

Support of Multi-investigator Initiatives in the Case CCC
Deadline: Open

Collaborative Activity Awards
Deadline: Open

NIH BULLETIN – Notices and Funding Opportunities


If you have a new grant, recently won an award, or have other newsworthy items, please let us know so we can publicize them in the newsletter and other media outlets. You deserve the accolades! Send items to Gillian Irwin at


Tues, Jan 13

Immunology Seminar Series
Stephen Waggoner, PhD
Cincinnati College of Medicine
Topic: Et tu, NK? The Betrayal of Adaptive Immunity by Natural Killer Cells
12 pm WRB 1-1413

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research (THOR) Lecture Series
Mohamed Abazeed, MD, PhD
Associate Staff, Translational Hematology and Oncology Research
Cleveland Clinic
Topic: The Genomic Landscape of Therapeutic Resistance
1 pm R3-027 Cleveland Clinic

Cancer Biology Seminar Series
Valentin Boerner, PhD
Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease
Department of Biological Sciences
Cleveland State University
Topic: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Chromosome Break Repair
2 pm NC1-202 Cleveland Clinic

Wed, Jan 14

Hematology/Oncology Grand Rounds
8 am Lerner B-151

Immunology Faculty Candidate Seminar
Myung Gon Ko, PhD
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Topic: TET proteins and 5-methylcytosine Oxidation in Stem Cells and Myeloid Cancers
11 am in WRB 5-136 

Thurs, Jan 15

Molecular Genetics Seminar
Jeff Coller, PhD
Center for RNA Molecular Biology
Topic: mRNA Stability is Determined by the Genetic Code
9:30 am NE1-205 Cleveland Clinic

Cancer Trainee Seminar
Research Speaker: Youngyou Zhang
Topic: Inhibition of 15-PGDH Potentiates Tissue Regeneration in Multiple Organs
Clinical Speaker: Peter Oppelt
Topic: Transplant Related Malignancy
12 pm WRB 3-136

Immunology Journal Club
Elane Reyes
Department of Immunology
Topic: The Methyltransferase Setdb2 Mediates Virus-induced Susceptibility to Bacterial Superinfection
12 pm 5-136

Molecular Biology and Microbiology/CFAR Leaders Seminar
Georgia Tomaras, PhD
Associate Professor, Surgery and Immunology
Associate Research Professor, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Duke University
Topic: HIV-1 Correlates of Protection
1 pm Rottman Seminar Room W203

Fri, Jan 16

Hematology/Oncology Fellows Seminar
8 am Wearn 137

Taussig Cancer Institute Grand Rounds
Karen Cooper, DO
Center for Specialized Women's Health
Cleveland Clinic 
Topic: Obesity and Cancer: An Integrative Approach
8 am R3/002-003 Cleveland Clinic

Cellular and Molecular Medicine Seminar Series
Patrick Provost, PhD
Professor, Faculty of Medicine
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec Research Center/Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval
Topic: Platelet microRNAs on the Move
10 am NC1-202 Cleveland Clinic

Cancer Center Seminar Series
Mohamed Abazeed, MD, PhD
Associate Staff, Translational Hematology and Oncology Research
Cleveland Clinic
Topic: The Genomic Landscape of Therapeutic Resistance in Cancer
12 pm BRB 105

Cancer Center Research in Progress
Peter Liao
Graduate Student, Barnholtz-Sloan Lab, Div. of General Medical Sciences (Oncology)
Topic: Phosphoproteomic Screen of GBM Tumor Tissue Reveals Unified Signaling Pathways and Role of Cytoskeletal Modulation in Patient Survival
4 pm WRB 3-136

Tues, Jan 20

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research (THOR) Lecture Series
Janssen Diagnostics
Topic: Cell Search
1 pm R3-027 Cleveland Clinic

Cancer Biology Staff Candidate
Irfan Ahmed Isangani, PhD
Research Investigator, Michigan Center for Translational Pathology
University of Michigan
Topic: Characterization and Therapeutic Targeting of Epigenetic Regulators in Cancer
2 pm NC1-202 Cleveland Clinic

Wed, Jan 21

Hematology/Oncology Grand Rounds
8 am Lerner B-151

Thurs, Jan 22

Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Daria Hazuda
VP Scientific Affairs for Infectious Disease
Merck & Co., Inc.
Topic: Advances In HIV and HCV Drug Discovery 
12 pm Rottman Seminar Room W203

Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Erin Armentrout
Rietsch lab, Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Topic: A Genetic Analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Translocon Function
1 pm Rottman Seminar Room W203

Fri, Jan 23

Hematology/Oncology Fellows Seminar
8 am Wearn 137

Taussig Cancer Institute Grand Rounds
M&M Conference - Cleveland Clinic only
8 am R3/002-003 Cleveland Clinic

Cellular & Molecular Medicine Midterm Review Seminar
Justin Lathia, PhD
Assistant Professor, Cell Biology
CWRU/Cleveland Clinic
Topic: Cracking the Cancer Stem Cell Communication Code
10 am NC1-202 Cleveland Clinic

Cancer Center Seminar Series
Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Co-Director, Cancer Program, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Topic: Genetics and Targeted Therapy for Myeloid Malignancies
12 pm BRB 105

Cancer Center Research in Progress
Markowitz Lab
Division of Hem/Onc
4 pm WRB 3-136


Case CCC Calendar

LRI Calendar


ASH Review
January 21, 2015

Best of San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium
February 4, 2015

Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Update
Weston, FL
March 6-7, 2015

Graft Versus Host Disease Symposium 2015
April 24, 2015
Embassy Suites Cleveland - Rockside

Lung Cancer Course
April 25, 2015


Symposium on Global Cancer Research
March 25, 2015
Boston Sheraton Hotel