publication date: Nov. 21, 2014

Gilliland Named President and Director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

 

D. GARY GILLILAND was named president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, effective Jan. 2, 2015.

Gilliland comes from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, where he served as vice president of precision medicine. Previously, he was an executive at Merck Research Laboratories, a professor of medicine for more than 20 years at Harvard Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

He directed the leukemia program at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and was also a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology. His research has focused on the genetic basis of blood cancers.

He will become the fifth president and director of Fred Hutch, taking over for Mark Groudine, the acting president and director. He is preceded by Lawrence Corey, Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell, Robert Day, and founder William Hutchinson.

According to the center, Gilliland is hopeful that immunotherapy can be successfully applied against a host of diseases that are caused by viruses, from hepatitis C to Burkitt lymphoma and other infectious disease-related cancers, which account for about a quarter of all malignancies worldwide. He also wants to focus on the development of targeted cancer therapies, working with the University of Washington.

Gilliland has received the William Dameshek Prize from the American Society of Hematology, the Emil J. Freireich Award from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation, of which he is an elected member. He is also an elected member of the American Association of Physicians.

 

MARK GILBERT was named chief of the Neuro-Oncology Branch at the NIH, within the Center for Cancer Research of NCI.

Gilbert was previously deputy chairman of the Department of Neuro-Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The Neuro-Oncology Branch is a cooperative program between the NCI and the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Established in 2000, the NOB became one of the first trans-institutional initiatives at the NIH.

Gilbert has served as co-chair of the Brain Tumor Committee for the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group since 2010, and has been the primary investigator on a number of pivotal studies in the field of neuro-oncology. He is expected to begin his new role in late November.

 

BERT VOGELSTEIN was awarded the 2014 Warren Triennial Prize by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Vogelstein is the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology and director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The award will be presented at the Warren Triennial Prize Symposium, “The Genetics of Cancer,” on Nov. 24 at MGH.

Vogelstein and his colleagues demonstrated that colorectal tumors result from the gradual accumulation of alterations in specific oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, with major implications for improved diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

He and his colleagues were also the first to map cancer genomes and to use genome-wide sequencing to identify the basis of a hereditary disease. His team has determined the genetic landscapes of more than a dozen tumor types.

The Warren Prize is the top scientific award presented by MGH, and includes a cash award of $50,000. Created in 1871, the prize was named for John Collins Warren, a co-founder of the MGH who played a leading role in establishing what became the New England Journal of Medicine, and also performed the first public surgical operation utilizing ether anesthesia in 1846.

Twenty-three Warren recipients have also received the Nobel Prize–including 2011 recipient Shinya Yamanaka, a 2012 Nobel laureate; and 2004 recipients Craig Mello and Andrew Fire, who received the 2006 Nobel.

 

SUSAN MAYNE was appointed director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Mayne is the Winslow Professor of Epidemiology; associate director for population sciences at Yale Cancer Center; and chair of the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

Mayne joined Yale University in 1987 as a post-doctoral fellow, and directed Yale Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program from 1993-2010. She also served as associate director for population sciences from 1995. She is the recipient of several national awards in mentoring and training and for her service to many organizations including the National Academy of Sciences. She has also served on the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors.

The center regulates $417 billion worth of domestic food, $49 billion worth of imported foods, and over $60 billion worth of cosmetics sold across state lines, and is supported by a staff of over 800 employees, with a budget of nearly $300 million.

 

MERCK KGAA and Pfizer Inc. will co-develop and co-commercialize MSB0010718C, an investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody currently in development by Merck KGaA as a potential treatment for multiple tumor types.

The asset will be developed as a single agent as well as in various combinations with the two companies’ portfolios of drug candidates. The two companies will also advance Pfizer’s anti-PD-1 antibody into phase I trials. As part of the agreement, Merck KGaA will co-promote Pfizer’s Xalkori for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

“Up to 20 high priority immuno-oncology clinical development programs are expected to commence in 2015, including pivotal registration studies,” said Belén Garijo, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA. There are currently two clinical development programs underway evaluating MSB0010718C.

In a phase I trial, more than 550 patients have been treated with the drug across multiple types of cancers, with interim data demonstrating a complete response and partial responses in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and ovarian cancer. Additional data are expected to be presented at medical congresses in 2015.

There is also an ongoing phase II trial evaluating this antibody in patients with m-Merkel cell carcinoma.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck KGaA will receive an upfront payment of $850 million and is eligible to receive regulatory and commercial milestone payments up to $2 billion. Both companies will jointly fund all development and commercialization costs, and all revenues obtained from selling any anti-PD-L1 or anti-PD-1 products generated from this collaboration will be shared.

 

NYU LANGONE Medical Center and Lutheran Medical Center will create a clinically integrated health care provider network for the New York metropolitan area.

This agreement creates a formal health system between the two organizations that extends NYU Langone’s presence in Brooklyn, while bolstering Lutheran’s access to NYU Langone’s vast offering of medical and surgical specialties. Regulatory approval for the combination and new health system entity are expected to be completed in 2015.

NYU Langone has multiple ambulatory sites throughout the region, in addition to its main Manhattan hospital campuses, and Lutheran, in collaboration with its affiliated health center, Lutheran Family Health Centers, operates an expansive network of ambulatory practices in four boroughs of New York.

“We have been working closely with Lutheran over the last several months to assess whether a partnership would benefit each of our institutions, the Brooklyn community and, most importantly, the patients and families who turn to us for help,” said Robert Grossman, dean and CEO of NYU Langone.

This affiliation agreement allows both institutions to respond to this changing landscape and stabilize health care delivery in Brooklyn. This will be accomplished by:

The affiliation will create a fully integrated delivery system in Brooklyn using Lutheran’s existing primary care network, develop a system-wide IT infrastructure, and will focus on key initiatives including maternal and child health, cancer services, cardiac and vascular services, and physician network development.

 

DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE and Astellas Pharma Inc. announced a three-year collaboration to research and develop small molecule inhibitors of oncogenic K-Ras for the treatment of cancer.

Astellas will provide research support and retain the option to obtain from Dana-Farber an exclusive, worldwide license to novel K-Ras inhibitors obtained from the collaboration. Astellas would then conduct further research, development and commercialization.

Nathanael Gray, of the Cancer Biology Department at Dana-Farber and professor at Harvard Medical School, will lead this collaborative research. His laboratory and the Dana-Farber Medicinal Chemistry Core will be joined by the laboratories of Pasi Jänne, and Kwok-Kin Wong, of the Thoracic Oncology Program and co-directors of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber and Professors at Harvard Medical School.

 

TAPIMMUNE Inc. and the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida formed a partnership to advance TapImmune’s cancer vaccines into phase II clinical trials for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers.

These cancer vaccine candidates were developed by the institute’s director of cancer vaccines and immune therapies program, Keith Knutson. VGTI Florida will work with TapImmune to design and execute the clinical programs, including the design of the clinical protocols, and selection of clinical trial sites and external manufacturing and clinical resources.

TapImmune had previously announced the licensing of these vaccines technologies for the treatment of HER2/neu breast cancer and ovarian and breast cancer developed in the laboratory of Knutson while he was at the Mayo Clinic.

 

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL dedicated and opened The Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education & Collaboration on the St. Jude campus in Memphis, Tenn., Nov. 20. The center will focus on childhood cancer.

The center will also become the hub for the St. Jude International Outreach Program, which has 25 official partner sites in 17 countries. The center also will support the training of St. Jude’s postdoctoral and graduate fellows.

The center is named for St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas. Both she and Hillary Clinton were scheduled to attend the dedication, with Clinton as honored guest and featured speaker. Clinton also attended the 1994 dedication of the St. Jude Patient Care Center when she served as first lady.

 

THE BARBARA ANN KARMANOS CANCER INSTITUTE was honored by the Michigan Cancer Consortium with the 2014 Spirit of Collaboration Award for its Jewish Women’s Health Project; and also received an Honorable Mention for its Harley Men’s Health Event.

The Spirit of Collaboration Award is the highest honor the Michigan Cancer Consortium presents to member organizations, recognizing outstanding collaborative work that significantly moves cancer prevention and control activities forward in Michigan. The award presentation took place this month during the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s annual meeting in Lansing.

Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Jewish Women’s Health Project is a collaboration of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis, the Women’s Orthodox League, The Jewish Fund, Jewish Family Service, The Jewish Community Center of Oak Park, and Kids Kicking Cancer. The purpose of the program is to better understand and help prevent the genetic risk factor of the BRCA I and II genes among Orthodox Jews.

Genetic research documents a high prevalence of the BRCA I and II and anedomatous polyposis coli genes among Ashkenazi (i.e. European) Jewish women. Mutations in these genes place carriers at a significantly greater risk for breast, ovarian, pancreatic, colorectal, and other cancers.

The Harley Men’s Health Event is a collaborative project with Wolverine Harley Davidson that has for the past three years helped to increase awareness and access to recommended cancer screenings for an underserved population in Michigan. In the past three years, the event has reached 530 community members.

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