Issue 43 - Nov. 17, 2017
  • Defining the next level for Inova

    In 2010, John Knox Singleton, the CEO of the Inova Health System, had several meetings with John Niederhuber, a surgeon and scientist who had just been replaced as NCI director.

    At the time, Niederhuber still had a lab at NIH, but was plotting the next step in his career. Singleton had been Inova’s CEO since 1984.

  • Caligiuri resigns as CEO of the James after stepping down as director of OSUCCC

    Michael Caligiuri, who over the past 14 years demonstrated virtuosity in recruitment, lobbying, and fundraising, building the third-largest cancer hospital in the U.S., has stepped down as director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and as CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

  • An Appreciation

    Hail to “The Chief” Donald S. Coffey, a scientist, a mentor, a wit, dies at 85

    Donald S. Coffey, Ph.D., cancer warrior, humanist, mentor to hundreds of researchers and physicians, friend to countless people, was filled with a burning curiosity to understand the world and to know personally everyone he came in contact with.

    Everyone has the story—“I met Don at a meeting and he sat me down and he asked me to tell him my life story—and I was forever changed.”

  • In Brief

    • De la Chapelle receives lifetime achievement award from colorectal cancer group
    • Gallagher named vice president and head of Global Oncology Development at AbbVie 
    • Sylvester geneticist Shiekhattar receives NIH “Pioneer Award” 
    • WPI’s Mattson receives $1.7-million NIH award to develop molecular methods
    • LUNGevity partners with ALK Positive Patient Group to fund research
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves adjuvant indication for Sutent in renal cell carcinoma
    • FDA approves obinutuzumab for previously untreated follicular lymphoma
    • FDA approves Sprycel for pediatric patients with CML
    • FDA approves Genentech’s Hemlibra to prevent bleeding in hemophilia A
    • FDA authorized MSKCC’s tumor profiling tests
Issue 42 - Nov. 10, 2017
  • Skip Trump builds a cancer center by the Beltway

     Should Donald “Skip” Trump look up while talking to you on the phone, he might see deer roaming in the pine forest outside his office window.

    Trump might let his gaze skim the brown granite skin of the building of his cancer center—the Inova Schar Cancer Institute—and watch the proton beam and radiation therapy center take shape.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Trump’s plans for Inova reach across the Washington Beltway, through Virginia—and beyond

    Trying to build a cancer center in the middle of a saturated market should be difficult enough.

    Yet, preparing to face the competition from other established cancer centers across the Potomac is just one of the challenges Donald “Skip” Trump faces as CEO and executive director of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute.

  • CMS plan to slash $1.6 billion from 340B program will reduce discounts on cancer drugs

    Hospitals enrolled in the 340B program stand to lose up to $1.6 billion in Medicare Part B reimbursements through upcoming cuts to the drug pricing program, according to a final rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

  • In Brief

    • WUSTL’s DiPersio receives $6 million for leukemia research
    • Hopkins researchers launch interdisciplinary effort for breast cancer
    • Gad Getz, Chuan He, and Aviv Regev win Paul Marks Prize
    • Neuroblastoma foundation awards grant to Harvard’s Malgorzata Krajewska
    • Sanford Health wins ACCC David King Award
    • Ohio State receives Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award
    • NCI grant will support UA research in “lung cancer stigma”
    • NCCN publishes guidelines for cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Alecensa gets FDA approval for ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC
    • FDA approves first treatment for Erdheim-Chester Disease
    • FDA approves Adcetris for cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma
    • Seattle Genetics submits sBLA for Adcetris in Hodgkin lymphoma
Issue 41 - Nov. 3, 2017
  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Peter Pisters reflects on the upcoming challenge: leading MD Anderson

    With a month to go before his Dec. 1 start date as president of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Peter Pisters reflected on the challenges that await him in Houston.

  • House appropriators push back on Trump proposal to cap NIH facilities and administrative costs at 10%

    The Trump administration should consider NIH and the biomedical research enterprise as a component of the nation’s “defense” when making budgetary decisions, said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor-HHS, Education, and Related Agencies.

  • In Brief

    • Kelly McMasters named editor of Annals of Surgical Oncology
    • Focused Ultrasound Foundation receives transformative $10 million pledge
    • Cancer imaging archive at UAMS bolstered by $8.3 million NCI grant
    • Wistar, Man’s Best Friend Therapeutics collaborate on veterinary vaccine
    • Bryant Gumbel named 2017 NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award Recipient
    • Colon Cancer Alliance changes name to Colorectal Cancer Alliance
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves AstraZeneca’s Calquence for mantle cell lymphoma
    • Consortium aims to accelerate preclinical cancer drug discovery
  • Funding Opportunities

    • The FY17 Defense Appropriations Act provides $10 million to the Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program to support United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity 
Issue 40 - Oct. 27, 2017
  • Redefining “normal”: IU’s Komen Tissue Bank shows how race and abnormalities correlate with development of disease

    When two women—a patient advocate and a scientist—embarked on a mission to collect “normal” breast tissue for comparative purposes, colleagues in oncology dismissed their idea as wild.

    In the early 2000s, Connie Rufenbarger, a breast cancer patient advocate, and Anna Maria Storniolo, a professor of clinical medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a member of the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories, were attending a meeting in Indianapolis when they realized that oncologists had no source of “true normal” breast tissue to use as control in studies.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Storniolo: The Komen Tissue Bank fills the gap in understanding of “normal”

    Ten years ago, the formation of the Komen Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center was met with skepticism.

    Critics questioned the ethics of collecting “normal” breast tissue from healthy women who otherwise would have no other reason to undergo biopsies.

    Anna Maria Storniolo, a founder of the tissue bank and now its director, was one of those skeptics—before she started work on the bank in 2005.

  • ACS: Access and socioeconomic factors affect racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates

    The disparity in survival outcomes between black and white women with breast cancer—the result of a complex interaction of biologic and nonbiologic factors—can be reduced by increasing access to health care in all U.S. states, researchers from the American Cancer Society concluded in a recent study.

  • Dmitrovsky named president of Leidos Biomedical and director of Frederick Lab

    Ethan Dmitrovsky was appointed president Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. and Laboratory director of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

    Dmitrovsky will succeed the current president, David Heimbrook, who will retire.

    FNLCR is operated by Leidos Biomedical under an operations and technical support contract from NCI worth up to $400 million-a-year.

  • Help Wanted: MD Anderson seeks chief academic officer; Draetta named to the job in the interim

    MD Anderson has begun a search for a chief academic officer.

    Giulio Draetta will serve as CAO ad interim. Draetta is the Sewell Family Chair of Genomic Medicine, senior vice president, discovery and platforms and co-leader of the MD Anderson Moon Shots Program. Until now, Stephen Hahn, deputy president and chief operating officer, also served as interim chief academic officer.

  • In Brief

    • Pat Coyne and Meg Gaines receive NCCS Stovall Award for advancing patient-centered care
    • SU2C launches four teams on “cancer interception” to detect and treat cancer
    • SU2C launches 10 clinical trial projects combining cancer treatments
    • Barbara McAneny receives ACCC award
    • NCCN has one million registered users accessing the guidelines and related content
    • Fox Chase Cancer Center Opens Satellite Office in East Norriton
    • Xiongbin Lu named Vera Bradley Foundation professor of breast cancer innovation at IU
    • The GW Cancer Center announces new mobile mammography van
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA accepts Genentech’s application for Avastin for advanced ovarian cancer
    • G100 receives Orphan Drug Designation from EMA for follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Issue 39 - Oct. 20, 2017
Issue 38 - Oct. 13, 2017
Issue 37 - Oct. 6, 2017
  • Former American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin endorses cancer research venture funded by Philip Morris

    Philip Morris International, the tobacco company, is spending $1 billion over 12 years on “cancer research,” which will be funded through something called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

    Here at The Cancer Letter, a news item of this sort might have been easily chalked up to crafty PR tactics and thrown the heck out.

    And it would have been, were it not for this tidbit: the press release included a gushing quote from a gentleman named John Seffrin.

  • How PR firms created “dialogue” structure used by cancer groups and tobacco clients

    In January 2000, The Cancer Letter was working on a story about what seemed to be a strange political structure that was being put together by the American Cancer Society.
    The new organization was called the National Dialogue on Cancer, and its objective was to bring everyone interested in cancer into the same political process, and, in the process, to rewrite the National Cancer Act.

    The “dialogue,” which didn’t look like anything I ever saw in cancer politics, was being run—and presumably was set up—by Shandwick International, a PR firm.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Matt Myers: Philip Morris has a long history of funding what it calls independent research by previously credible researchers

    The Foundation for Tobacco-Free World is unlikely to win hearts and minds in the tobacco control community, said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

    The new foundation, which received an $80 million-a-year funding commitment from Philip Morris International, has the support of John Seffrin, former CEO of the American Cancer Society.

    If it is to gain credibility, the group would now need to recruit a board of directors who would be willing to stake their reputations on a venture funded by the makers of Marlboro cigarettes.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Allan Erickson: “I think Philip Morris has a long-term goal of a smoke-free world

    Through the controversies triggered by the National Dialogue on Cancer, John Seffrin relied on his ACS ally Allan Erickson.

    Erickson now runs a small group called the National Tobacco Reform Initiative, which includes Seffrin and Derek Yach, head of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which received funding from Philip Morris International to spend $80 million a year on cancer research.

  • Guest Editorial

    The Write Treatment; when a writing workshop is a part of cancer treatment

     

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and underwent treatment until 2010 at Beth Israel Hospital, now Mount Sinai, in New York. A year after finishing treatment I was thrilled to find out that my novel, Stalina, was a winner of the Amazon Debut Novel Award Contest.

    The prize was a publishing contract. My cancer diagnosis was life changing, but so was becoming a published author. Soon after receiving the wonderful news about my novel, I found signs of a possible relapse of the cancer. Fortunately, tests came back negative. The angst I experienced was an acknowledgment that cancer would always be part of my psyche, if not my body. I wanted to find a constructive way to face these anxieties. I wanted to find a way to give back to the community of patients, doctors and nurses, friends, colleagues, and family who supported me throughout my cancer journey.

  • In Brief

    • Sunil Sharma joins TGen, City of Hope and HonorHealth
    • Wisconsin state budget expands precision medicine in cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves sNDA for Alunbrig tablets, Takeda announces  
    • FDA grants priority review for Genentech’s Perjeta in adjuvant HER2+ early breast cancer
    • Mylan launches generic Gleevec tablets
    • Amgen, CytomX Therapeutics form  immuno-oncology collaboration
Issue 36 - Sep. 29, 2017
  • Peter Pisters hits the right notes in town hall meeting at MD Anderson

    Returning to Houston for a town hall meeting at MD Anderson on Sept. 27, Peter Pisters, the institution’s freshly-appointed president, hit every note a guy in his position needed to hit: baseball, football, shared values, shared governance, book clubs, reminiscences on growing up nerdy in Canada, the story of how he met his wife, anecdotes from taking care of MD Anderson patients during Hurricane Rita.

    He brought with him a decades-old Grundig radio he used while taking care of MD Anderson patients during the 2005 Hurricane Rita, pictures of cute children and adorable dogs, but no notes—the talk just flowed, flawlessly, organically.

  • In draft, USPSTF recommends screening with hrHPV without cytology

    To detect high-grade precancerious cervical lesions and cervical cancer, women ages 30 to 65 may no longer need to rely on co-testing, and can choose to either screen for high-risk human papillomavirus types or undergo cervical cytology, according to a recent draft recommendation released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

    The draft statement, which is open for public comment through Oct. 9, recommends screening for cervical cancer every three years with cervical cytology alone in women ages 21 to 29. For women ages 30 to 65, USPSTF recommends either screening every three years with cervical cytology alone, or every five years with hrHPV testing alone.

  • Lowy & Schiller at the Lasker Awards: The paradox of disease prevention, and how some scientists rise above their peers

    Douglas Lowy and John Schiller received the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award on Sept. 15 for research that led to development of the human papillomavirus vaccine.

    Lowy, who is completing his stint as the NCI acting director, becomes the first sitting head of the institute—permanent or acting—to win the award, which is described as America’s Nobel Prize (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 8).

     

  • Guest Editorial

    A costly “rebranding” of an old drug comes with a 700% price increase 

    Funaro is a resident at Duke Pharmacy, Friedman is the James B. Powell Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Duke, and Weant is a clinical pharmacist in neuro-oncology at Duke Pharmacy.

    Drug shortages, exorbitant medication costs, and price gouging tactics are facets of the American healthcare system that most providers have become all too familiar with in recent years. Unfortunately, oncology is no exception. Given the critical nature of the diseases they treat, chemotherapy agents, no matter how old, are particularly subject to these large and arbitrary price increases.

  • In Brief

    • CancerCare expands financial assistance for patients affected by hurricanes
    • Research!America to honor chair emeritus John Edward Porter and medical and health research advocacy leaders
    • Fox Chase Cancer Center receives gift to establish pancreatic cancer institute
    • Linus Chuang named chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Western Connecticut Health Network
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves Verzenio for advanced or metastatic breast cancers
    • First anti-PD-1 therapy approved for advanced gastric adenocarcinoma
    • Amgen and AbbVie agree to settlement allowing commercialization of Amgevita
    • FDA approves new label for Sun Pharma’s Odomzo for sustained duration of response in treatment of basal cell carcinoma
Issue 35 - Sep. 22, 2017
  • In a 6-6 vote, ODAC says “maybe” to Sutent for adjuvant kidney cancer—But at FDA “Maybe” has meaning

    With frustrating photo finish voting results—6-6—still on the screen, FDA’s cancer czar Richard Pazdur delivered an acerbic thank-you to members of the agency’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee:

    “Well, that’s the end vote, it makes our job definitely easier,” said Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, who gets sarcastic sometimes.

  • Pisters named president of MD Anderson

    Peter Pisters has been named president of MD Anderson Cancer Center and will begin in his new role later this year.

    The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the appointment Sept. 18. Pisters, currently the president and CEO of University Health Network in Toronto, was unanimously selected as the sole finalist for the position at a board meeting Aug. 25—under state law, university government boards must name finalists for a presidency at least 21 days before making an appointment (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 1).

  • NCI outlines research priorities in annual plan and bypass budget for FY19

    NCI has released its professional judgment budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019, requesting $6.38 billion—$1 billion more than FY17—to fully fund promising areas in cancer research.

  • In Brief

    • NCI awards $12.4 million lymphoma research grant renewal to University of Iowa and Mayo Clinic
    • Roswell Park awarded contract to keep running NY Smokers’ Quitline 
    • ASTRO awards early-career research grants to physician-scientists
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Novartis’s Rydapt gets EU approval for AML and SM indications
    • FDA approves lower dose of cabazitaxel for prostate cancer
    • EMA committee issues positive opinion for Tesaro’s Zejula
    • Opdivo receives Japanese approval for advanced gastric cancer indications
Issue 34 - Sep. 15, 2017
  • Five UC Comprehensive Cancer Centers form consortium to pool patient data for translational research

    Five academic cancer centers within the University of California system are putting together a single consortium to integrate their electronic health records, forming a clinical trials monolith that could be used by pharmaceutical companies doing research in the Golden State.

    The UC Cancer Consortium, announced Sept. 11, consists of the following NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers:

    • University of California, Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center,
    • The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of California, Irvine,
    • The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of California, Los Angeles,
    • University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and
    • University of California, San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Ashworth’s challenge: Build one very big data sharing system across the University of California cancer centers

    As the inaugural chair of the University of California Cancer Consortium, Alan Ashworth has to do a little cheerleading and a lot of pushing for integration of the electronic health records across the UC cancer centers.

    All five cancer centers use Epic, but that doesn’t mean much. “We’re all on Epic—but they’re all different instances,” Ashworth said to The Cancer Letter. “So, we need another solution to put all these things together.

  • Gottlieb: Oncology center shows how FDA can improve regulation, lower development costs

    FDA has a legitimate role to play in slowing down the cost of developing drugs, and it can do so by relying on good regulatory science, the agency’s commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

    Speaking at a Washington event sponsored by Friends of Cancer Research and focused on precision medicine, Gottlieb said the agency’s Oncology Center of Excellence demonstrates what the agency can do to streamline the drug development process.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    The Next Step: Neil Hayes picks up stakes at UNC to build an NCI-designated cancer program in Memphis

    The Next Step is an occasional series of conversations in which The Cancer Letter will focus on cancer researchers in the midst of transition from one position to another.

    Here we sit down with Neil Hayes, who after 15 years at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he was most recently a co leader of the Clinical Research Program, is leaving for Memphis to become the scientific director of the University of Tennessee West Institute for Cancer Research.

  • In Brief

    • Teitell named director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
    • AACR calls for sound policy, sustained funding increases
    • Allison, Schreiber win 2017 Balzan Prize 
    • Mannel Appointed as an NRG Oncology Group Chairman
    • Marcus named associate director for basic research, shared resources at Winship
    • Nominations open for AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for translational and clinical cancer research
    • Vanderbilt’s Penson named to JNCI editorial post
    • Roswell Park joins the Oncology Information Exchange Network
    • Kimmel Cancer Center to open welcome center
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Bayer’s Aliqopa gets FDA accelerated approval for relapsed follicular lymphoma
    • FDA approves Amgen’s Mvasi, a bevacizumab biosimilar
    • Cemiplimab receives FDA breakthrough designation for advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma