publication date: Jun. 1, 2018

In Brief

Berlin named to new leadership post at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Jordan Berlin was named associate director of Clinical Investigation Strategy and Shared Resources at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

In his new role, he will chair the Resource Allocation Committee and continue as chair of the Clinical Trials Shared Resource Steering Committee.

Berlin is an Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, and co-leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Program and director of the phase I Clinical Trials Program at VICC.

In his new role, Berlin will work closely with Vicki Keedy, medical director of the CTSR, Marta Crispens, chair of the Scientific Review Committee, Ingrid Mayer, chair of the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee, and the operational leaders of the CTSR to optimize operations and facilitate clinical trial services for the VICC membership.

Berlin joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in 1999. He specializes in treating GI cancers.

At VICC, Berlin is the principal investigator of Project 2 and co-director of the Administrative Core for the GI Specialized Program of Research Excellence, a prestigious research grant program funded by the National Cancer Institute.

He also is principal investigator of the Vanderbilt Lead Academic Participating Site Grant with the National Clinical Trials Network and of the UM1 to conduct early-phase trials with the Early Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network. 


Sidney Kimmel—Jefferson and Sarah Cannon form drug development collaboration

Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center–Jefferson Health and Sarah Cannon Research Institute announced a collaboration to advance clinical research through an expanded early phase drug development program and investigator-initiated trials.

The organizations will combine expertise in drug development and research support services, which will expand the menu of clinical trials to patients across the Delaware Valley and beyond. Additionally, Sarah Cannon will provide SKCC-designed clinical trials in sites within their national network.

“By combining the strengths of SKCC and Sarah Cannon’s robust cancer programs, we are bringing together experts who share a mission to advance cancer research so that patients will have greater access to the latest treatment options that focus on personalized care,” Karen Knudsen, director of Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health, said in a statement. “We are excited to form a strategic partnership that will accelerate drug development both nationally and globally, with the goal of impacting a larger population of patients seeking new therapies.”

“At Sarah Cannon, we are focused on offering patients cutting edge cancer therapies closer to home – a commitment shared by our esteemed colleagues at SKCC,” Howard “Skip” Burris, president and chief medical officer at Sarah Cannon, said in a statement. “Together, this collaboration will make a greater impact on the field of cancer research through the synergy of our scientific and operational expertise.” 

Burris is also the incoming president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

In addition to the collaboration in clinical research, SKCC and Sarah Cannon will work together to advance blood cancer care through Sarah Cannon’s Blood Cancer Network. Sarah Cannon is one of the world’s largest providers of hematopoietic cell transplantation, performing more than 1,000 transplants per year.


Wasik joins Fox Chase Cancer Center as chair of pathology

Mariusz Wasik was appointed chair of the Department of Pathology at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Jeanes Hospital.

He will also serve as associate director of the Cancer Center.

Wasik joins Fox Chase from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served in various positions in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine, including director of experimental hematology, director of the Hematopathology Fellowship Training Program, and director of hematopathology. Most recently, he was the principal investigator and scientific leader of the Translational Center of Excellence for Lymphoma at Abramson Cancer Center.

Wasik’s research focuses primarily on aberrant cell signaling, the underlying genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in lymphomas, the development of new diagnostic and monitoring tools, and the identification of novel treatment approaches based on the unique biology of malignant cells. He will continue scholarly activities of this kind at Fox Chase.


George W. Bush headlines $26 million fundraiser for Inova

Former President George W. Bush and former White House advisor Karl Rove helped raise more than $26 million for the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, setting a new record for a single-event non-profit fundraiser in the Washington, D.C., region.

The donations will help support a new highly personalized cancer research and treatment center on a 117-acre campus.

The fundraising dinner, held at the Inova Center for Personalized Health and chaired by NVR, Inc. president and chief executive officer Paul Saville and his wife Linda, drew more than 225 guests.

Former President Bush, who was interviewed by his former advisor at the event, has made the fight against cancer one of the priorities of his post-presidential activities.

The Inova Schar Cancer Institute got its start in 2015, when Dwight Schar, Chairman of the Board of NRV Inc., and his wife Martha, made a $50 million gift to Inova, the largest in the health system’s history. The institute will move into a new facility on the campus of the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Falls Church, Virginia, in April 2019.


Wistar receives grant to further research by Wistar scientists Rauscher and Chen

The Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy awarded The Wistar Institute a $840,000 grant over three years, to support the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Breast Cancer Research Consortium at Wistar.

The award furthers the multidisciplinary research projects of two Wistar scientists, Frank Rauscher, the principal investigator of the award, and Qing Chen, whose integrated research targets breast cancer and specifically how cancer cells migrate from the primary tumor to form an often-deadly metastasis.

Rauscher, professor in Wistar’s Gene Expression and Regulation Program, studies the regulation of gene expression in cellular differentiation and homeostasis and how disruption of these mechanisms affects tumor initiation and metastatic progression.

Chen, assistant professor in Wistar’s Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program, focuses on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer.

Working in collaboration, the scientists will focus their breast cancer research at the mechanisms used by the tumor at the very onset of the metastatic process, and how the primary tumor burden promotes and activates metastasis to distant organs— specifically in the brain. They hope to understand and define the biochemical mechanisms specific to cancer cells that promote metastasis and to find druggable targets to block tumor spread.

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