publication date: Nov. 2, 2018

In Brief

Barry Kramer retires from NCI

Barry Kramer, NCI’s cancer prevention expert and an advocate for rigorous science announced his intention to retire from the institute.

In an email dated Nov. 2, Kramer wrote:

My wife, Ruthie, and I have decided to retire on Jan. 3. It has been a long and gratifying career. I have had the honor to serve in a variety of positions that I could not have even dreamed about when I entered oncology fellowship in 1975. Along the way, I have been a close witness to, and sometimes even a participant in, the unfolding of cancer research history and clinical trials with important public health impact. More importantly, I have had the opportunity to work with so many dedicated professional colleagues, many of whom I consider close friends. Thank you for all of those opportunities and interactions. I also want to thank the staff of the Division of Cancer Prevention for making the last seven years so fulfilling and productive.


In an email blast to the NCI staff, Institute Director Ned Sharpless wrote:

Dear NCI Colleagues,

After 38 years of distinguished government service, Dr. Barry Kramer, Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP), will retire in early January. His departure caps a truly impressive career and will be a profound loss to the Institute.

Barry has played many critical roles over the course of his career. Prior to his 7-year tenure as DCP director, Barry served as the Division’s deputy director, Associate Director for Disease Prevention at NIH, and Director of the Office of Medical Applications of Research, home of the NIH Consensus Development Program. He has been central to many of NCI’s most important cancer screening trials, including but not limited to the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, and the National Lung Screening Trial.

Barry was a driving force in the development and evolution of NCI’s Physician Data Query (PDQ); he has served as Editor-in-Chief of PDQ’s Screening and Prevention Editorial Board since its inception in 1991 and has served as a member of the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board since 1988. He has also served as an NIH liaison to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. For many years, in addition to his full-time NIH and NCI responsibilities, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In each of these roles he stood firm as a tireless champion and advocate for the rigorous evaluation of medical evidence, careful to avoid unquestioned assessments and intuitively appealing answers. This interest and commitment also led him to pioneer development of a multi-day course to arm health journalists to accurately cover medical research, “Medicine in the Media,” which trained some of the leading journalists covering cancer science.

I am personally grateful for Barry’s wise counsel and innumerable contributions to NCI and to cancer research more broadly. While we will miss him, I know you will join me in thanking Barry for his service and congratulating him on his retirement.

A decision regarding DCP leadership following his departure will be made in the days ahead.




Adam Margolin to lead new $200M program to accelerate precision medicine at Mount Sinai

Adam Margolin has been recruited by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to lead a new initiative to accelerate the pace of therapeutic discovery through integration of large-scale data analysis and advanced genomic technologies.

Margolin was named professor and chair of the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and senior associate dean of precision medicine. He will also lead Mount Sinai’s Icahn Institute, which has been renamed the Icahn Institute for Data Science and Genomic Technology. He will lead the new enterprise-wide program that focuses on harnessing huge molecular datasets to predict new therapies for complex diseases by using advanced biotechnologies to rapidly tailor novel therapies to each patient.

Margolin is an expert  in developing machine-learning algorithms to analyze large-scale datasets, to predict therapies specific to an individual patient, and to infer the key cellular processes that underlie cancer drug susceptibility and other clinically relevant phenotypes.  He has developed software systems to enable collaborative analysis for several of the largest national and international projects in cancer, genomics, cancer immunotherapy, stem cell research, and pediatric diseases.

 Margolin will inherit the positions previously held by Eric Schadt, who was recruited in 2011 to lead Mount Sinai’s programs in data science and genomics. Through these efforts, Mount Sinai: grew the genetics department to rise within the top 5 nationally in NIH funding for research; built the largest supercomputing facility of any academic medical center in the United States; was named by Fast Company among the top 10 most innovative organizations in the world in Data Science; developed a state-of-the-art genomic technology development program; and spun out the molecular testing company, SEMA4.

Margolin joins Mount Sinai from Oregon Health & Science University, where he was the director of computational biology and professor of biomedical engineering.  


Andrzej Dlugosz to oversee basic science research at Rogel Cancer Center

Andrzej Dlugosz was named associate director for basic science research at the  University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center.

Dlugosz is the Poth Professor of Cutaneous Oncology and professor of dermatology and of cell and developmental biology at the University of Michigan. He co-leads the Rogel Cancer Center’s cancer biology program.

In his new role, Dlugosz will oversee the Rogel Cancer Center’s four basic science research programs, which focus on cancer biology, genetics, developmental therapeutics and immunology.

Dlugosz joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1997 and currently serves as associate chair for research in the Department of Dermatology.

His research focuses on how alterations in the Hedgehog signaling pathway contribute to cancer initiation, progression and maintenance in tumors arising in the skin and other organs. In more recent studies, he has also been investigating the molecular underpinnings of Merkel cell carcinoma.

Dlugosz replaces Stephen Weiss, who stepped down to build on his laboratory research efforts. Dlugosz’ appointment is effective Nov. 1.


Leonard Freedman named chief science officer at Frederick National Laboratory  

Leonard Freedman was named chief science officer at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

He joins the FNL staff after six years as founding president of the Global Biological Standards Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing life science standards and best practices through policy initiatives. Previously, he served as vice dean for research and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.

As a vice president at Wyeth and executive director at Merck, Freedman also led discovery research efforts in the pharmaceutical industry. Previously, Freedman was a member and professor of cell biology and genetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weil Cornell Medical College. There, Freedman and his laboratory made decisive discoveries in the area of nuclear hormone receptor structure and function.


Johnathan Whetstine to lead Cancer Epigenetics Program at Fox Chase

Johnathan Whetstine was named program leader of the Cancer Epigenetics Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Whetstine comes to Fox Chase from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, where he served as vice chair of the Epigenetics Program. He also held appointments as associate geneticist and associate professor in the department of medicine.

Whetstine’s work has focused on understanding tumor heterogeneity and drug response. He holds the scholar award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and an NIH R01 grant, as well as funding from the American Lung Association, Alex Lemonade Stand Foundation and AstraZeneca.

The new Cancer Epigenetics Program Whetstine will lead has basic, translational, and clinical research components.

Whetstine will begin his work at Fox Chase on Dec. 1.


Syapse to utilize NCCN Biomarkers Compendium for clinical care

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network and Syapse announced an agreement w to expand the use of best practices in precision medicine.

Syapse delivers solutions for scaling enterprise precision oncology programs. The data contained in the NCCN Biomarkers Compendium will strengthen Syapse’s decision support and workflow tools, increasing access to more personalized care.

The NCCN Biomarkers Compendium is part of NCCN’s Library of Compendia, which also includes databases for Drugs & Biologics (NCCN Compendium), as well as the NCCN Radiation Therapy Compendium, and the NCCN Imaging Appropriate Use Criteria (NCCN Imaging AUC).

The NCCN-supported data will begin appearing on the Syapse platform in late 2018. Syapse is committed to updating that content weekly to keep pace with the NCCN Guidelines.


ONS and other groups ask nurses to lead by example to promote advance care planning

Advance care planning is a process for patients and their families to discuss their wishes and goals of care for treatment and end-of-life care, clarify related values and goals, and state preferences through written documents and medical orders.

In situations where a patient’s decision-making capacity is limited, healthcare providers turn to family members to make decisions.

The Oncology Nursing Society  has joined with nursing specialty organizations representing more than 700,000 nurses and other healthcare professionals to promote those ACP conversations among patients and families. The initiative encourages all nurses to lead by example by establishing their own ACP.

The initiative, tagged “#ISaidWhatIWant,” was developed in response to the work done at the 2017 Palliative Nursing Summit hosted by the Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing Association, in which ONS participated.

The summit brought nurses together from various specialties to develop a collaborative nursing agenda regarding ACP, pain and symptom management, and transitions/coordination of care.

Following the summit, participating organizations formed work teams to develop specific programs to influence public health by engaging nurses in targeted initiatives to enhance the care and outcomes for patients and their families.


SU2C announces fundraising at CVS pharmacies

Stand Up To Cancer announced the launch of an in-store fundraising campaign at CVS Pharmacy locations across the country, as part of its collaboration with CVS Health.

The in-store fundraising campaign will help SU2C’s ongoing efforts to turn every cancer patient into a long-term survivor and will run from Oct. 28 – Nov. 17. CVS Health employees and customers have raised more than $20 million for Stand Up To Cancer since 2014.

Copyright (c) 2020 The Cancer Letter Inc.