publication date: Jun. 19, 2020

In Brief

Siteman Cancer Center earns highest NCI rating

Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis received an “exceptional” rating from NCI during its site visit for 2020.

The evaluation resulted in a nearly perfect score from NCI.

Siteman earned its latest exceptional rating based on a January site visit by 22 researchers and administrators from academic cancer centers across the U.S. During the visit, Washington University researchers and physicians presented research programs that included:

  • Siteman’s portfolio of more than 600 clinical studies and the cancer center’s enrollment of more than 12,000 patients in clinical studies per year.

  • Genomic research to identify personalized targets and create personalized vaccines.

  • The use of ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging, which relies on light and sound rather than tissue samples, to diagnose ovarian cancer.

  • Community-based research to understand and reduce cancer disparities and lessen the burden of cancer in our entire region.

  • Improvements in colorectal cancer screening in urban and rural areas.

  • The use of cellular therapies and CAR-T cell therapy to treat blood and bone marrow cancers.

  • The development of novel immunotherapies for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

  • Community outreach and education, and enhanced access to cancer care.

  • The range of educational opportunities available at Siteman, from mentorships for high school and college students to advanced training for medical students and junior faculty.

Siteman was named Missouri’s only NCI-designated Cancer Center in 2001 and the state’s only Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2005. Today, Siteman treats more than 75,000 unique patients, including 12,000 newly diagnosed patients, every year.


MSK’s Charles L. Sawyers named AACR Academy president-elect

Charles L. Sawyers, chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, was elected president-elect by the fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research for 2020-2021.

Sawyers will assume the presidency during the 2021 AACR annual meeting.

As the AACR Academy president-elect, Sawyers will work with the other members of AACR Academy’s Steering Committee and other elected fellows of the AACR Academy to provide advice and counsel to the AACR leadership.

Sawyers investigates the signaling pathways that drive the growth and drug resistance of cancer cells. He played a critical role in developing the molecularly targeted cancer drug imatinib (Gleevec) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia.

Sawyers’ research into treatments for cancer that becomes resistant to established therapies led to the development of dasatinib (Sprycel) for patients with imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia and enzalutamide (Xtandi) for metastatic prostate cancer that has become resistant to docetaxel.

In addition to serving as chair of HOPP at MSK, Sawyers holds the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis and is an internist and hematologic oncologist.

Sawyers, an AACR member since 1997, was elected as a fellow of the AACR Academy in 2014. He served as the president of the AACR from 2013-2014 and as a member of the board of directors from 2003-2006.

Sawyers conceptualized AACR Project GENIE and has served as chair of the AACR Project GENIE Steering Committee since its inception in 2015. He received the AACR-Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship (2019); the AACR Team Science Award (2015); the Dorothy Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Medicine (2009); and the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award (2005).

Sawyers was associate editor for the AACR scientific journals Cancer Research (2000-2004) and Clinical Cancer Research (2002-2006). Sawyers served as scientific editor for the AACR’s journal Cancer Discovery.


Postow, Merea, named to new positions at MSK

Michael Postow was named chief of the Melanoma Service in the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology, and Valeria Silva Merea was named director of the Speech and Hearing Center at Memorial Hospital and the David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Postow assumed his new role May 24. As chief of the Melanoma Service, he will oversee the ongoing strategic goals of the Melanoma Service to expand the clinical and research programs and activities in melanoma.

Valeria Silva Merea, a surgeon who specializes in caring for people with early laryngeal cancer, and voice, airway, and swallowing disorders, assumed her role in January 2020. She will expand clinical services and MSK’s research program for patients with the full spectrum of speech, voice, airway, swallowing, and hearing disorders.


Kunle Odunsi named SITC board member

Kunle Odunsi, deputy director of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, was named an at-large director of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Board of Directors.

The organization’s members voted for Odunsi during their election in May. He will begin his three-year term in January 2021.

Odunsi is also the Robert, Anne & Lew Wallace Endowed Chair in Cancer Immunotherapy, executive director of the Center for Immunotherapy and M. Steven Piver Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park.

A fellow of both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the United Kingdom and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, he holds lifetime membership in the National Academy of Medicine.


Glenn D. Steele Jr. named chair of City of Hope board of directors

Glenn D. Steele Jr. was elected board chair of City of Hope, effective June 1.

Steele joined the City of Hope Board of Directors in January 2016. Prior to becoming chair, he was chair of the Executive Compensation and Governance Committee from 2018-2020.

Selwyn Isakow, founder and chief executive officer of The Oxford Investment Group, is the immediate past chair.

His investigations have focused on the cell biology of gastrointestinal cancer and pre-cancer and, most recently, on innovations in health care delivery and financing.

Steele serves as chairman of GSteele Health Solutions, an independently-operated venture launched to help health care organizations create value and improve quality. He is the former chairman of xG Health Solutions and former president and chief executive officer of Geisinger Health System, an integrated health services organization recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record and the development and implementation of care models.

Steele is past chairman of the American Board of Surgery, and serves on for-profit and not-for-profit boards and national committees, including vice chair of Health Transformation Alliance, Bucknell University Board of Trustees as an emeritus trustee, Stanford Board of Fellows, Peterson Center on Healthcare Advisory Board, and serves as an adviser on the private equity firms of General Atlantic and LRVHealth.

Steele is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has served as the dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at University of Chicago, as well as the Richard T. Crane Professor in the Department of Surgery. Prior to that, he was the William V. McDermott Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.


David Cortez named associate director of basic science research at VICC

David Cortez was named associate director for Basic Science Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Cortez, the Richard Armstrong Professor of Biochemistry, joined Vanderbilt University in 2002. He is an expert in the field of DNA damage response and repair and made seminal discoveries about the mechanisms that maintain genome integrity.

Cortez is a member of the editorial boards for Cell Reports and Molecular and Cellular Biology. Cortez has been a co-leader of the Genome Maintenance Research Program since its inception in 2007 at VICC, and served as director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University for eight years.

Cortez replaces Scott Hiebert, professor of biochemistry and Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, who has served in the role since 2008. Hiebert is a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Hiebert will continue in his role as associate director for shared resources and another interim leadership role to be announced soon. He will continue to focus on the molecular mechanisms of acute leukemia and the action of tumor suppressors in his own research program.


Jessica Karen Wong joins Fox Chase

Jessica Karen Wong will join Fox Chase Cancer Center July 1 as assistant professor in the academic clinical track in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Wong will join the staff upon completion of her radiation oncology residency program at Fox Chase, where she served as chief resident last year and won the RSNA Roentgen Resident/Fellow Research Award.

Before attending medical school, Wong earned her masters of engineering in biomedical engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine on multiple scholarships.


OSUCCC – James Cancer Diagnostic Center speeds up diagnosis, treatment

A new center at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute gives patients direct, expedited access to diagnostic testing for cancer.

The center’s goal is to provide immediate community-wide patient access to cancer providers for anyone with a suspected cancer, especially in communities where access to healthcare is limited and has become more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The James Cancer Diagnostic Center offers a platform for expert evaluation and access to the appropriate diagnostic testing so that a cancer diagnosis can be made in a timely and precise manner, in a low-risk environment. Center visits can be virtual or in-person based on the patient’s preference.

Launched on June 15, the Cancer Diagnostic Center is open daily and staffed by a team of advanced practice professionals and nurses who have expertise in oncology. The team is overseen by physicians with oncology experience and expertise.

The center is available for both self- or physician-referral. Center staff first identify and prioritize patient needs and concerns and then coordinate appropriate testing and evaluation on behalf of the patient at facilities within The James and the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. Follow-up care is also coordinated with a specialized, multidisciplinary team at The James if a cancer diagnosis is made.


Roswell Park dermatology expert Oscar Colegio dies at 47

Oscar Colegio, the Lawrence P. & Joan Castellani Family Endowed Chair in Dermatology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, died unexpectedly last weekend at a family residence in Connecticut. He was 47.

Colegio relocated to Buffalo when he was recruited to head Roswell Park’s dermatology program in 2018. He had previously served as associate professor of dermatology, pathology and surgery at Yale University.

“Our hearts are with Dr. Colegio’s family,” Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, said in a statement. “In only two years’ time, he became a dear friend, trusted physician and valued colleague to so many. He embraced his adoptive home of Buffalo and the Elmwood Village with warmth and friendship. Given who Oscar was personally and professionally, all that he accomplished and the passion with which he pursued his work, this loss leaves an enormous hole.”

A clinician and scientist with more than 20 years of experience, Colegio was president of the International Immunosuppression and Transplant Skin Cancer Collaborative, a professional society dedicated to understanding skin cancer in organ transplant recipients.

He specialized in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, immunology, immunodeficiency-associated skin cancers and solid organ transplantation. Consistently named to the national Top Doctors list, he earned doctoral and medical degrees from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Colegio is survived by his wife, Brenda, and two sons, Otto and Austin. A fund will be established in his name to support research on cancers of the skin. A gift in his memory may be designated to the fund here.

Copyright (c) 2020 The Cancer Letter Inc.