publication date: Jan. 25, 2019

In Brief

Rosanna Morris named chief operating officer at MD Anderson

Rosanna Morris was named chief operating officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Morris currently is president of Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. The hospital is part of Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest health system, which has 38,000 employees and 187 health centers.

Morris, a registered nurse, will begin her new duties overseeing inpatient and outpatient operations on April 22.

“Rosanna brings a demonstrated ability to rally people around delivering high quality care in the safest, most efficient and effective manner while exceeding patient expectations,” said Peter Pisters, president of MD Anderson, to whom Morris will report. “She will work closely with me and our chief medical executive to oversee MD Anderson’s clinical enterprise. We welcome her to MD Anderson and our executive leadership team.”

Morris also has held a number of executive and clinical positions at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha; Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna, Fla.; and Stanford University.


Health groups call for speedy end of shutdown

In a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders, 46 health groups urges an end to the government shutdown.

The text of the letter, dated Jan. 22, follows:

Dear Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy,

The undersigned organizations, representing millions of American patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, and researchers write to raise alarm at the continued government shutdown–particularly its impact on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The work of the FDA to protect the health and wellbeing of our nation cannot be overstated. The agency regulates one quarter of the U.S. economy, ensures a safe food supply, protects patients from contaminated and unsafe medical products and, importantly, is the catalyst for expediting lifesaving therapies to patients.

On behalf of patients across this country, we are greatly concerned that the agency is currently not fully funded, and thousands of vital FDA employees are not working or able to operate at full capacity. While we applaud Commissioner Gottlieb, FDA leadership, and “essential staff” for truly heroic work to keep many aspects of its mission functioning, we fear that this continued shutdown not only puts the current health and safety of Americans at risk, but has begun to put future scientific discovery and innovation in jeopardy.

The ongoing government shutdown forces the FDA to make difficult choices regarding to which essential functions its greatly reduced resources are directed. These are decisions that never should have to be made— the health and safety of Americans today should never be weighed against the prospect of new life-saving therapies for patients. Tragically, that is what is happening.

We ask that the President and Congress act immediately to bring the FDA back to its full capacity. Americans’ health and patients’ futures are at stake.”


Kyn Therapeutics partners with Celgene to develop immuno-oncology therapies

Kyn Therapeutics said it has entered into a global strategic collaboration with Celgene Corp.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop novel immuno-oncology therapies through uniting Kyn’s immuno-oncology expertise and pipeline with Celgene’s capabilities for developing and commercializing medicines in areas of high unmet medical need. The collaboration begins with an upfront payment and an equity investment by Celgene, which receives exclusive options to license Kyn’s aryl hydrocarbon receptor antagonist program and its kynurenine-degrading enzyme program.

AHR and kynurenine are associated with immunosuppression in a range of tumor types through multiple cellular metabolic mechanisms that modulate both innate and adaptive immunity. These attributes make them compelling targets for investigative therapies, in particular in patients who do not fully benefit from current treatments like checkpoint inhibitors.

Under the agreement, Kyn will receive an upfront cash payment of $80 million and an equity investment from Celgene for exclusive options to globally license the Kynase and AHR antagonist programs.

For each program, Kyn is responsible for R&D activities through phase Ib, at which time Celgene can opt in to lead and fund global development and commercialization of the licensed programs. If successful, Kyn is eligible for substantial clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. Kyn will also receive tiered royalties on worldwide net sales on products resulting from development of the licensed programs.

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