Home | Back to newsletter main page

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Newsletter

September 20, 2010


FDA To Rule On Breast Cancer Drug
KTAL - Sep 17, 2010
... actually done better than other drugs, but they have not lived longer and that's the major concern," says Dr. Stan Gerson of the UH Case Medical Center. ... "

Cuyahoga County Smoking Rate is Lowest in Ohio
Plain Dealer - Sep 15, 2010
Dr. Derek Raghavan, chairman of the Taussig Cancer Institute at the Cleveland Clinic said cessation programs generally work as long as you sustain them. ...

Test May Speed Colon Cancer Diagnosis
New York Times - Sep 14, 2010
A new generation of DNA tests for colon cancer shows promise in improving the detection of cancers and precancerous polyps. The test is based on work by Dr. Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University; Sanford Markowitz, MD, at Case Western Reserve University and David A. Ahlquist of the Mayo Clinic.


AACR Summary of Dr. Varmus' "Director's Report" to NCAB

On Tuesday, September 7, Dr. Harold Varmus, Director of the NCI, gave a "Director's Report" during the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) meeting. During his discussion of the challenging budget environment that currently exists on Capitol Hill, Dr. Varmus pointed out the importance of "developing friends in Congress to prevent bad things from happening". He followed up that statement by pointing out that he would be meeting with Members of Congress, including members of the House Cancer Caucus, at "an event that has been arranged by the American Association for Cancer Research" at the end of this month. At the conclusion of the meeting, he said he is excited about the opportunity to talk directly to Members of Congress on September 29.

During the opening remarks of his nearly one hour talk, he stated he would talk about a couple of the programs he would like to see grow a bit, as well as highlight some of the potential problem areas that he has discovered since coming on board. Some of the information he provided was also discussed during the town hall meeting he conducted after being sworn in as NCI Director in July. Below is a summary of the topics he discussed at the NCAB meeting.

  1. His Reasons for Returning to the NIH
    • He has been working in the cancer research field for 40 years and has never seen a more opportune moment for cancer research.
    • He is excited about the opportunity to help build important scientific programs; sustain the ones that are productive; and improve the ones that require some attention. He also pointed out he is going to oversee a huge budget as the NCI Director, which is going to be much different than when he served as the NIH Director and had very little money at his disposal.
    • He is excited about being part of the U.S. government at this time, where he will be able to work with personal friends, such as the FDA Commissioner (Dr. Margaret Hamburg) and the CDC Director (Dr. Thomas Frieden). He said such quality appointments to key positions provide a unique opportunity to put science in its rightful place.
    • He has a long-standing affection for the NIH, which dates back to the time he spent working in the intramural program in 1968, as well as his tenure as the NIH Director in the 1990s.
    • He likes to work, and the NCI job is going to provide him with this opportunity.
  2. Dr. Varmus' Highlighted Programs (Cancer Genomics and Global Health)
    • Cancer Genomics – He said cancer genomics is dominating our thinking and this is a signature program at the NCI. He pointed out that the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program, which is a major initiative and partnership between the NCI and the NHGRI, will have a tremendous impact on how we treat cancer. He stated that such prospect for our use of genomic information to fight cancer necessitates its own center within the NCI. Therefore, he is proposing the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics become a free standing center, which will require a restructuring within the NCI; currently, the center is part of a broader center within NCI.
    • Global Health – Dr. Varmus talked about the important role the NCI must play in global health and plans to propose the establishment of a Center for Global Health at the NCI. He said it is "NCI's responsibility to take this issue on". He explained he has been active in global health issues (such as malaria) for the past twelve years and wants to focus on more than just the " low hanging fruit." Therefore, he talked about the importance of helping poor to middle income countries deal with chronic diseases, such as cancer, obesity, and heart disease. He specifically pointed out the fact that cervical cancer is a major cause of death in poor countries and said the use of vaccines for this disease is limited due to expense and the requirement that more than one dose is administered.
  3. Dr. Varmus' General Thoughts
    • Tension Between the Individual Scientist and Scientific Teams – Dr. Varmus explained that he recognizes there is often tension between the individual scientist and scientific teams, but said both are extremely valuable. For example, the R01 grant mechanism ensures the independence of our most imaginative investigators, while team science is very helpful to the scientific enterprise, especially through its support of high throughput studies. He said it would be a mistake to classify him as an "R01 guy or a mega-project guy."
    • Tension Between Balancing Public Health Need (Disease Burden) and Scientific Opportunity – Dr. Varmus said there are many ways (through the compilation of health statistics) to measure the impact of cancer on the nation's health. He also pointed out it is very difficult to categorize our spending on cancer and underscored how research on rare diseases, as well as basic developmental biology research, has provided important windows into cancer.
    • Ways to Advance an Area of Science – Dr. Varmus explained that sometimes it is important to provide incentives to encourage researchers to focus on a particular area of science. He pointed out that a variety of mechanisms are used to do this, including set-asides, program announcements, and workshops. He also said these incentives should be inspirational, not monetary. They also should be temporary, not permanent.
    • Defining the Big Questions – Dr. Varmus talked about a meeting he plans to facilitate in October to help define the big questions in cancer. His goal is to come up with questions that, if answered, will allow cancer researchers to get over the roadblocks that are preventing progress. He hopes to compile a set of 10 to 30 questions and intends to use it like a scorecard to assess how we are doing. For example, one of the questions might involve obesity and specifically, what is it about obesity that drives the initiation of cancer?
  4. Specific Problem Areas (He noted that this list is not comprehensive)
    • Dr. Varmus said he is looking forward to the NCAB's comprehensive list of issues that he may want to consider taking on. It appears this list will be provided to Dr. Varmus before the end of the year.
    • Clinical Trials System – He said we are at an important moment and have a remarkable opportunity to improve our nation's clinical trials system. However, he pointed out this is not just about getting clinical trials to be more efficient, but rather it is about injecting a new kind of science into how we conduct clinical trials. For example, he said we should strive to draw conclusions when trials fail, determine how they can be done faster with a smaller number of patients, and ensure that patients are engaged.
    • Clinical Research in the NIH Intramural Program " Dr. Varmus admitted the NIH's intramural clinical research program could be stronger. He said he is looking forward to the recommendations from the NIH Scientific Management Review Board, which is in the process of reviewing how the NIH supports the NIH Clinical Center. He talked about the importance of building the patient base and discussed possible partnerships between the Department of Defense and Johns Hopkins University. He also expressed an interest in bringing in investigators from the outside, as well as enriching the current cohort of clinical investigators.
    • Streamlining the Research Pipeline – Dr. Varmus talked about the importance of moving research through the pipeline to benefit patients. He said the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN), which was authorized in the health care reform law, is expected to help. He also talked about how supporting proposals in the regulatory science and information technology areas, such as the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), will be helpful. In addition, he plans to examine how the conflict of interest regulations may be helping or hindering efforts to move research through the pipeline.
    • Enhancing Collaborative Activities – Dr. Varmus is extremely interested in building bridges with other NIH Institutes and Centers, other agencies, such as the CDC and FDA, and industry. He believes that it is very important to enhance these collaborative activities even thought the grant mechanisms that are required are sometimes complex.
Friends of Cancer Research 2010 Comparative Effectiveness Research Forum Proceedings & Commentary Released

On June 18, Friends of Cancer Research hosted a forum, supported by Oracle Health Sciences, on the future of comparative effectiveness research (CER). The meeting brought together leaders from numerous federal health agencies (HHS, NIH, NCI, AHRQ, CMS, FDA), congressional offices, and academic research centers to discuss priorities for expanding the conduct of CER in the United States.

The forum served as a follow-up to the 2009 Friends of Cancer Research CER forum held in conjunction with the release of a whitepaper, Improving Medical Decisions Through Comparative Effectiveness Research: Cancer as a Case Study, authored by an independent committee of 25 leading advocates, researchers and health practitioners. The whitepaper is available on the Friends of Cancer Research website.



**All events are open to anyone interested in attending

September 20

Pathology Research Seminar
Irving Kushner, MD
Professor, Medicine
Topic: A Personal View of the Acute Phase Response from Oswald Avery to the UPR
12 pm WRB 1413

David Satcher Lecture Series
Christina Cordero, PhD, MPH
Associate Project Director, Div. of Standards and Survey Methods
Joint Commission
Topic: Effective Communication and Cultural Competence in Patient-Centered Care
12 pm Kulas Auditorium

Neurosciences Special Seminar
Daniel Wesson, PhD
Emotional Brain Institute
Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research
Topic: A Systems Neuroscience Approach to Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: One Sniff at a Time
12 pm BRB 105

September 21

Taussig Cancer Institute Core Curriculum Series
Stephen Smith, MD
Associate Staff, Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders
Cleveland Clinic
Topic: Follicular Lymphoma
12 pm R3-002 Cleveland Clinic

Department of Medicine Grand Rounds
Reena Mehra, MD
Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
Topic: Sleep Disordered Breathing and Cardiac Arrhythmias: Epidemiology and Pathophysiology
12 pm Kulas Auditorium (Lakeside 5th fl)

Immunology Seminar
George Dubyak, PhD
Professor, Physiology & Biophysics
Topic: Extracellular ATP and NAD as Inflammatory Mediators: Targeting the P2X7 Receptor for Inflammasome Activation and Antigen Presentation
12 pm WRB 1413

September 22

ICC Grand Rounds
Deepjot Singh, MD
Assistant Professor, Medicine- Hem/Onc
Topic: Upper Gastrointestinal Tract Malignancies
8 am Lerner Tower B-151

Pathology Graduate Student Seminar
Julie Wolfram
Graduate Student, Smith/Lee Labs, Pathology
Topic: The Role of Myc in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
12 pm WRB 1413

Ribonucleotide Reductase Journal Club
Charles Kunos, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
Topic: Ribonucleotide Reductase and Renewal of dNTPs- Part 2
2 pm SOM W331

September 23

Neurosciences and Biology Shared Seminar
Linda Bartoshuk, PhD
Professor, Community Dentistry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Florida
Topic: Are you a Supertaster? How Do We Know and What Does it Mean?
4 pm SOM E501

September 24

Hematology and Oncology Fellows
Afshin Dowlati, MD
Associate Professor, Medicine- Hem/Onc
Topic: Statistical Issues in Interpreting Clinical Trials
8 am Wearn 137

Taussig Cancer Institute Grand Rounds
John Nemunaitis, MD
Executive Director, Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center
Topic: Personalized Therapeutics Using Gene Based Technology
8 am R3/002-003 Cleveland Clinic

Cancer Center Research in Progress Seminar: A Tale of Two Mice
Chao Fang
Graduate Student, Div. of Hem/Onc, Schmaier Lab
Topic: A Novel Mechanism for Thrombosis Protection in Bradykinin B2 Receptor Knockout Mice
Greg Adams
Graduate Student, Div. of Hem/Onc, Schmaier Lab
Topic: Prolylcarboxypeptidase, a Novel Risk Factor for Arterial Thrombosis and Hypertension
4 pm WRB 3-136


Case CCC Calendar

LRI Calendar


Cancer Center Scientific Series
November 8
4-7 pm WRB 1-413


Science Café Cleveland
October 11
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Drs. Ruth Keri and Agata Exner
Topic: Pills and needles are so 20th century: How advancements in drug target discovery and drug delivery are shifting the strategy in the battle against cancer.

Third Annual Personalized Health Care National Conference
October 14-15
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Oncology Congress
October 15-17
San Francisco, CA

2010 Cleveland Nanomedicine Summit
October 18-19
InterContinental Hotel, Cleveland, OH
Clinical and research abstracts will be accepted through October 1 (please note new deadline)

International Symposium on Breast Cancer Prevention: Nutrition, Communication and Public Policy
October 18-19
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

ASCO-NCI-EORTC Annual Meeting on Molecular Markers in Cancer
October 18-20
Hollywood, FL
Call for Abstracts

2010 International Conference of RNA Nanotechnology and Therapeutics
October 23- 25
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cleveland

Graft versus Host Disease Conference
November 4
Corporate College East, Cleveland, OH

Active Living Research Annual Conference
February 22-24, 2011
San Diego, CA
Call for Abstracts Deadline: August 6

Call for Abstracts: 2011 Clinical and Translational Research and Education Meeting: ACRT/SCTS Joint Annual Meeting
April 27-29, 2011
Omni Shoreham, Washington, DC
Abstract Deadline: December 16


Department of Defense (DOD) Peer Reviewed Lung Cancer Research Program (LCRP) is accepting applications for the Lung Cancer Early Detection Clinical Consortium. The program will support innovative and competitive research focused on the development of a program for the early detection of lung cancer in military beneficiaries (Armed Forces and/or the US veteran population).

The LCRP is interested in research proposals that fund studies focused on characterizing, developing, and/or improving early detection modalities for lung cancer. The award is designed to bring together populations of military beneficiaries at high risk for developing lung cancer and lung cancer patients populations from the specified military treatment facilities indicated in the Program Announcement.

Pre-application Deadline: November 19
Application Deadline: December 7


Conference on Clinical Cancer Research

The third-annual Conference on Clinical Cancer Research, hosted by Friends of Cancer Research and the Brookings Institution will be held on Wednesday, October 20 in Washington DC. This year's keynote speakers include: Dr. Harold Varmus, Director of the NCI and former Director of the NIH, and Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

In 2008 and 2009 conferences were held to identify and develop recommendations for specific barriers to clinical cancer research. This third conference will build on the successes of the previous discussions as well as address new topics. The conference will facilitate dialogue among different stakeholders and produce a final report that will outline consensus-driven solutions to critical questions regarding the future of clinical cancer research.


DOD Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) Concept Award
Application Deadline: September 29

AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship
Nomination Deadline: September 30

AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research
Nomination Deadline: September 30

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Post-Baccalaureate Training in Disparities Research Grants
Pre-Application Deadline: September 30
Full Application Deadline: November 2

ACS Pilot and Exploratory Projects in Palliative Care of Cancer Patients and Their Families:
Deadline: October 15

ACS Area of Special Interest: The Role of Healthcare and Insurance in Improving Outcomes in Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment
Deadline: October 15

AACR Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research
Nomination Deadline: October 15

AACR Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award
Nomination Deadline: October 15

DOD Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) Idea Awards
Application Deadline: October 20

DOD Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) Translational New Investigator Awards
Application Deadline: October 20

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Post-Baccalaureate Training in Disparities Research Grants
Full Application Deadline: November 2

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR)
Full Application Deadline: November 2

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Career Catalyst Research (CCR) Grants
Full Application Deadline: November 2

International Clinical Research Fellows (ICRF) Program
Deadline: December 1

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Promise Grants
Full Application Deadline: December 7

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Postdoctoral Fellowships
Full Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Post Baccalaureate Training in Disparities Research
Full Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

Translational Technology Concept Studies of Circulating Tumor and Endothelial Cells (CTC/CEC)
Deadline: Open

AACR Scholar-in-Training Awards - Special Conferences
Deadline: Open

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

NCI Short-Term Scientist Exchange Program
Application Deadline: Open

James S. McDonnell Foundation
Application Deadline: Open

NIH BULLETIN – Notices and Funding Opportunities

Revised Policy on Applicant Institution Responsibilities for Ensuring Just-in-Time Submissions are Accurate and Current Up to the Time of Award (NOT-OD-10-120)

Review of Grants Information for Fiscal Year 2010 (NOT-OD-10-137)

Innovative Emerging Molecular Analysis Technologies (SBIR R43/R44) (RFA-CA-10-013)

NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) Short-term Interdisciplinary Training Program for New and Early-Stage Investigators (R25) (RFA-NR-11-002)

Limited Competition for the Global Research Initiative Program, Basic/Biomedical Sciences (R01) (PAR-10-278)

Robotics Technology Development and Deployment [RTD2] (R43) (PAR-10-279)

Limited Competition for the Global Research Initiative Program, Behavioral/Social Sciences (R01) (PAR-10-280)

Core Infrastructure and Methodological Research for Cancer Epidemiology Cohorts (U01) (PAR-10-283)

Produced by:
Gillian Irwin Todd
11100 Euclid Avenue, Wearn 149
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-5065
216-844-8317 phone
216-844-7832 fax


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@case.edu.