publication date: Jan. 16, 2015

MD Anderson’s Lee Named Medical Director of Texas Center for Proton Therapy

 

ANDREW LEE was named medical director of the Texas Center for Proton Therapy, a collaboration of Texas Oncology, Baylor Health, McKesson Specialty Health, and The US Oncology Network, effective Feb. 1.

Lee was a professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, working there for over 13 years. He was medical director of MD Anderson’s Proton Therapy Center, and served as director of advanced technologies. He was recognized as a recipient of The University Cancer Foundation Faculty Achievement Award in Patient Care.

 

A. EUGENE WASHINGTON was named chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, as well as president and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health System, effective April 1.

Washington currently serves as vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, as well as CEO of the UCLA Health System, where he is also a distinguished professor of gynecology and health policy and holds the Gerald S. Levey, M.D. Endowed Chair.

At Duke, he will succeed Victor Dzau, who stepped down as the university’s senior medical officer to become president of the Institute of Medicine.

Washington helped spearhead efforts to change clinical practice and policy guidelines for prenatal genetics, cervical cancer screening and prevention, and reproduction-related infections. In November, he received the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his “major contributions to improving the health and health care of the American people.” His work also has been recognized with the Outstanding Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service and election to the IOM and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Prior to joining UCLA in February 2010, Washington served as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, San Francisco, where he oversaw the research enterprise and steered strategic planning. He co-founded a research center that studied medical effectiveness for diverse populations and co-founded the UCSF-Stanford Evidence-based Practice Center.

Earlier at UCSF, he chaired the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences for eight years. Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, Washington worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He is the founding chair of the board of governors of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which established the Eugene Washington Engagement Award, which supports active integration of patient, stakeholder and research communities during the research process.

 

JULIE BRAHMER was named director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Brahmer will oversee a $35 million investment in the program and the opening of the new Thoracic Center of Excellence at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, as well as clinical trials and research focused on lung and esophageal cancer and mesothelioma.

Brahmer has been a faculty member at Johns Hopkins since 2001. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group’s Thoracic Committee and Cancer Prevention Steering Committee. A founding board member of the National Lung Cancer Partnership, now known as Free to Breathe, she currently serves as a member of its Scientific Executive Committee.

She also sits on the Lung Cancer Research Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, Uniting Against Lung Cancer’s Medical Committee and LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board.

 

NAIYER RIZVI was named director of thoracic oncology and immunotherapeutics in medical oncology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Rizvi comes from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he was an attending physician and focused on thoracic immunotherapy.

He has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed papers, books and book chapters, and currently sits on the editorial board of OncoImmunology.

 

SETON HALL UNIVERSITY and Hackensack University Health Network announced plans to form a new, four-year school of medicine. The partnership will establish the only private school of medicine in New Jersey.

The school is planned to be located on the campus of the former Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. biomedical facility, in Nutley and Clifton, N.J. The first class is expected to begin within the next three years.

Seton Hall plans to integrate their nursing and allied health programs with the new school of medicine. HackensackUHN’s hospitals will serve as the primary clinical teaching sites for SHU and SHU-affiliated graduate education programs.

The plan is subject to approval by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and an agreement is expected to be finalized early this year.

 

ROCHE acquired Bina Technologies Inc., a privately held company that provides a big data platform for centralized management and processing of next generation sequencing data for the academic and translational research markets.

Bina will be integrated into the Roche Sequencing Unit, and will continue to focus on development of their innovative genomic analysis solution.

Bina recently announced selection of their platform by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to provide whole genome, whole exome, and SNP Chip DNA data analysis as part of the VA’s Million Veteran Program, which aims to enroll 1 million veterans.

 

THE BARBARA ANN KARMANOS CANCER INSTITUTE received a grant of $5,375,000 from the Dresner Foundation. The grant, focused on hematologic malignancies research, will be distributed over the next five years.

The grant will create an endowed chair position, help recruit scientists and fellowship positions, and establish a patient registry and tissue bank for blood-related cancers.

It will also establish a Patient Assistance Fund to help low-income cancer patients with financial challenges during their cancer care. This grant, combined with the personal giving from the Dresner family, brings their total giving to Karmanos to over $10.4 million since 1998.

Charles Schiffer, multidisciplinary team leader of Malignant Hematology at Karmanos and professor of medicine and oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine, will serve as the first endowed Joseph Dresner Chair for Hematologic Malignancies.

The Dresner Foundation was established by the late Joseph and Vera Dresner to support health researchers and those dedicated to improving the quality and length of life for patients. Joseph Dresner was diagnosed with MDS in 2002 and was treated by Schiffer at Karmanos.

 

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY and the College of American Pathologists announced a partnership to further inter-professional education, advocacy, quality improvement, international outreach, and practice guideline development. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding.

ASCO and CAP will focus on the development, application, interpretation, and dissemination of pathology tests, including tumor markers and molecular diagnostics, in cancer care.

According to the two organizations, the collaboration will involve: continuing medical education on the use, interpretation, and application of molecular diagnostic tests; joint evidence-based practice guidelines for oncologists and pathologists; international workshops; and advocacy and patient information about cancer diagnostics.

 

MOUNT SINAI HEALTH SYSTEM and Valley Health System announced plans to collaborate on clinical programs, research and educational initiatives. Mount Sinai comprises seven hospitals and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Valley Health System, headquartered in Ridgewood, N.J., includes The Valley Hospital, Valley Home Care and Valley Medical Group.

The collaboration includes: establishing new clinical programs and services; participating in research initiatives; establishing clinical information system linkages; identifying opportunities for Valley physicians to obtain academic appointments at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine; and developing a clinically integrated physician network.

To oversee the development of joint initiatives for clinical services, research initiatives and educational programs, a Mount Sinai associate dean will be appointed, according to the health system.

 

PELOTONIA awarded six, two-year grants to projects at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital & Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

Pelotonia is a fundraising bicycle tour established in 2009 to raise money for cancer research at Ohio State. In the past four years, 67 OSUCCC – James research teams have received Pelotonia Idea Grants. A total of $650,000 will be awarded in this latest round of grants, with $6.6 million in funding awarded since the program’s inception.

The 2014 Pelotonia Idea Grants funded the following projects: Identifying and Developing New Immunoagents for Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy; Proteasomal Pathway Regulates PTEN Protein Degradation and Promotes Carcinogenesis; A Mass-Spectrometry Approach to Mapping Histone Modification Crosstalk; Develop IL-27 Based Combinational Immunotherapy of Cancer; Ceragenin-based Therapy for Multiple Myeloma; and Defining the Role of Autophagy in Anoikis Resistance and in Peritoneal Carcinomatosis/Sarcomatosis.

 

GENENTECH and Human Longevity Inc. signed a multi-year agreement to conduct whole genome sequencing of tens of thousands of de-identified samples provided by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

HLI will sequence genomes to 30x coverage and analyze the data. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

HLI is building a comprehensive integrated human genotype and phenotype database, the HLI Knowledgebase, using Illumina’s HiSeq X Ten and HiSeq 2500 sequencing machines and Pac Bio RS II instruments.

 

MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER, Intrexon Corporation and Ziopharm Oncology announced a sublicensing agreement for intellectual property developed at the University of Minnesota for the development of non-viral adoptive cellular cancer immunotherapies.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have explored the design and clinical investigation of novel chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies using non-viral gene integration platforms. MD Anderson has built on this technology to deliver patient-derived T cells, as well as innovative approaches to generating products for universal off-the-shelf applications. The agreement will also use Intrexon’s technology suite and Ziopharm’s RheoSwitch Therapeutic System interleukin-12 modules.

The work continues in conjunction with MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program. Clinical trials using non-viral adoptive cellular therapies are either under way or planned for the specific cancers in the program.

Under the terms of the agreement, MD Anderson will receive consideration of $100 million; $50 million from each Intrexon and Ziopharm, payable in shares of their respective common stock, as well as a commitment of $15 to $20 million annually over three years for researching and developing the technologies.

The parties will enter into additional collaboration and technology transfer agreements to accelerate technology and clinical development.

 

AMGEN and MD Anderson Cancer Center announced a research collaborative agreement focusing on Amgen’s bispecific T cell engager antibody constructs, an immunotherapy that serves as a bridge between T cells and cancer cells.

The research agreement will identify targets for this therapy in myelodysplastic syndrome patients, and provides for joint development of new agents under pre-determined terms. Amgen retains all commercial rights, while MD Anderson is eligible to receive milestones and royalties upon successful achievement of key objectives.

BiTE antibody constructs are recombinant proteins consisting of two separate antibodies held together by a flexible peptide linker or bands of amino acids. The antibodies are designed to function as a link between T cells and cancer cells. One antibody or protein domain binds to the cancer cell’s surface, while the other binds to the CD3 on the T cell, resulting in the malignant cell’s death.

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