HAAKON RAGDE was named the 2016 Honorary Member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the highest honor ASTRO bestows on members in disciplines other than radiation oncology, radiobiology or radiation physics.
Ragde will be inducted during an awards ceremony at ASTRO’s 58th Annual Meeting, Sept. 25-28 in Boston. Ragde is the 33rd physician to be chosen for the honor.
“Dr. Ragde is a luminary in the field of medicine,” said ASTRO Chair Bruce Minsky. “His work has become the standard of care in a number of areas. As a board certified urologist, he has an impressive array of achievements, including introducing seed implantation for prostate cancer into the U.S., introducing transrectal ultrasonography and introducing the transrectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy method now used. He also took part in bone marrow transplant research that earned researcher E. Donnall Thomas, MD, the Nobel Peace Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1990. ASTRO thanks Dr. Ragde for his outstanding accomplishments.”
He accepted a staff position in 1965 in general surgery and urology at the University of Washington. There, Ragde and a colleague performed the first successful kidney transplants in the state of Washington. However, following these procedures, he was unable to raise money for continuing research. So when Thomas, the hematology professor who would ultimately win the Nobel Prize, approached Ragde with an offer to join Thomas’ bone marrow transplantation research team, Ragde agreed.
The team—Thomas, Ragde and two internists, Ranier Storb and Robert Epstein—studied how bone marrow transplantation might cure leukemia and other cancers of the blood by replacing the diseased marrow with healthy marrow. Ragde said the Nobel Peace Prize for the research did not surprise him. Not only did the five years of work change his life, but he also became good friends with Thomas.
According to Ragde, his greatest career accomplishment was template-directed brachytherapy for prostate cancer. He opened a private practice in urology in Seattle following his work with Thomas and became an expert in transrectal ultrasonography of the prostate. Ragde was trained in the technique by physicians at the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark and Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. His mentor in Denmark called him to Copenhagen to see the accurate placement of ultrasound-directed radioactive seeds into a cancerous prostate. Ragde then took the technique back to his practice in Seattle.
Ragde established the Pacific Northwest Cancer Foundation (which created Northwest Biotherapeutics Inc.) and the Haakon Ragde Foundation for Advanced Cancer Studies. He retired from active practice in 2003 and now researches immunotherapy. He is conducting a study on immunotherapy on advanced prostate cancer patients at the University of Bergen in Norway.
STEVEN PAUL was elected chairman of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
Paul succeeds Charles Sanders, who has served as chairman since 1997 and will remain a member of the board. In addition, Thomas Insel and Paul Stoffels were elected as new board members.
Paul is president and CEO at Voyager Therapeutics, Inc., as well as a venture partner at Third Rock Ventures. Prior to Voyager, Paul was founding director of the Helen and Robert Appel Alzheimer’s Disease Research Institute, the Burton P. and Judith B. Resnick Distinguished Professor in Neurodegenerative Diseases and a DeWitt Senior Scholar and professor of neuroscience, psychiatry and pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Paul also spent 17 years at Eli Lilly and Company, where he was president of the Lilly Research Laboratories. Prior to Eli Lilly, Paul served as scientific director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Insel is the director of clinical neuroscience at Verily, an Alphabet company, formerly known as Google Life Sciences. Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health from 2002 to 2015, overseeing advances in mental health, neuroscience, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Prior to his appointment at the NIMH, Insel was a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Emory University School of Medicine. He also served as director of the Center for Autism Research and is a member of the scientific advisory board at the Autism Science Foundation.
Stoffels is chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson. As a member of the executive committee, Stoffels oversees internal research and development across three business sectors, pharmaceuticals, consumer and medical devices. He also oversees Johnson & Johnson’s Global Public Health unit.
STEPHEN BURLEY was named as co-program leader of the Cancer Pharmacology Research Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Burley will work with co-program leader X.F. Steven Zheng, a university professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in determining the mode of action and mechanism of resistance to anti-cancer agents and developing novel concepts and strategies for cancer treatment.
Burley has been a full research member of Rutgers Cancer Institute since 2013. He is the director of the Center for Integrative Proteomics Research, founding director of the Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, and a distinguished professor of chemistry and chemical biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. He also serves as director of the Research Collaboratory Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank.
FIRAS ELADOUMIKDACHI was named program director for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at Hamilton. He will be responsible for clinical leadership of the oncology service line at RWJ Hamilton including medical, surgical and radiation oncology.
Eladoumikdachi is an assistant professor of surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He has been with RWJ Hamilton and the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Brunswick for the past year. Prior to that, Eladoumikdachi served as the director of the breast program at Genesis Health Care System in Ohio and vice chair of Ohio Integrated Care Providers.
JOEL KATZ was honored by City of Hope with the Spirit of Life Award.
Katz, an entertainment attorney, is chair of the Global Entertainment and Media Practice of Greenberg Traurig, and was recognized for his work in the entertainment industry. Katz will be presented with the award at a gala in Los Angeles Nov. 10.
“City of Hope is proud to honor Joel this year in recognition of his support of our mission,” said Robert Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope. “We deeply appreciate Joel’s unwavering commitment to our Spirit of Life campaign which propels our innovative research and treatments that outsmart deadly diseases—one patient at a time.”
THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY plans to double its annual funding for research by 2021. The society made the announcement in conjunction with Vice President Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
ACS plans to increase its annual research investment to approximately $240 million by 2021. The organization currently spends about $100 million per year in new grants to academic research institutions and another $15 to $20 million annually in research by ACS investigators in cancer epidemiology, surveillance and health services, behavioral research, and economics and health policy.
ACS has invested $4.5 billion in research since 1946. According to the society, 47 of its funded researchers have won Nobel Prizes for their work.
RESEARCH!AMERICA launched its Campaign for Cures 2016 election blog and an online interactive map featuring hundreds of quotes on medical progress from candidates across the political spectrum running for national office.
Managed by former USA Today senior editor and health reporter Janice Lloyd, the blog features election news, survey data, commentary and analysis of presidential and congressional races in key states on topics relevant to medical progress.
Campaign for Cures partners include Pfizer, the Society for Neuroscience, Alzheimer’s Association, PhRMA, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, University of Maryland School of Medicine, The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, American Public Health Association, American Association for Cancer Research, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Penn Medicine, The Whitehead Institute and The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
MOUNT SINAI HEALTH SYSTEM and Valley Health System plan to form a partnership that will enable Valley to access Mount Sinai’s roster of clinical trials, as well as develop new programs and services.
In December 2015, Valley and Mount Sinai announced plans to collaborate on clinical programs, research and educational offerings. Mount Sinai and Valley plan to work together at Valley’s Blumenthal Cancer Center in Paramus and the main campus in Ridgewood by establishing a linked clinical information system.
According to Robert Korst, medical director of Valley’s Blumenthal Cancer Center, among the first Mount Sinai clinical trials that Valley patients will have access to include new treatments and treatment protocols for cutaneous malignancies, including melanoma and other skin cancers; genitourinary malignancies, including prostate and kidney cancers; and hematologic cancers and serious blood disorders, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes. Some treatment protocols will include bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapeutic vaccines.
IBM Research will undertake research with Melanoma Institute Australia to help further advance the identification of melanoma using cognitive technology.
This research builds on IBM’s existing research agreement with MoleMap, which uses advanced visual analytics to analyze more than 40,000 data sets including images and text. IBM Research plans to analyze dermatological images of skin lesions to help identify specific clinical patterns in the early stages of melanoma. The Australian research team aims to help reduce unnecessary biopsies and help clinicians more accurately understand skin cancer, which could help to improve patient care.
THE WISTAR INSTITUTE has entered into an agreement with the Gene Editing Institute at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, expanding their previous partnership established in 2011.
The Gene Editing Institute will be integrated into Wistar’s Molecular Screening Facility. The Gene Editing Institute will retain its management structure and will remain located at the Graham Cancer Center on the Christiana Hospital Campus in Newark, Del. The Molecular Screening Facility will remain housed at Wistar in Philadelphia. According to the two organizations, they have already begun scientific collaborations involving research on melanoma and lung cancer. The previous partnership was the first inter-institutional affiliation between an NCI-designated basic research institution and a community cancer center.