20140919 - Sep 19, 2014
ISSUE 35 – SEPT. 19, 2014PDF

DePinho Will Not Meet With AAUP In Probe of Tenure Denial Dispute 

MD Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald DePinho declined to meet with the investigation committee dispatched by the American Association of University Professors to his institution Thursday.

“We will not personally meet with representatives of a non-governing entity conducting an unauthorized investigation with a pre-determined outcome.” DePinho wrote in a Sept. 17 email to MD Anderson faculty and staff.


Officials: Poisoning Unrelated to MD Anderson;

Critics Allege Dysfunction in Handling of Affair

Images of the gleaming buildings and the distinctive logo of MD Anderson Cancer Center have been flashing on television screens and appearing on pages of respectable newspapers and scandal sheets alike.

The reason has nothing to do with the Moon Shots aimed at curing cancers. Rather, the name of the venerable cancer center is being dragged through the mud because one of its doctors stands accused of trying to poison another.

Sept. 9 NCAB Meeting
Varmus: Expect Another CR For Funding The NIH Through Mid-December

NCI Director Harold Varmus said Congress is moving slowly on appropriations bills, and a continuing resolution lasting until December is the best that can be expected in the short term.

“Depending on the outcome of the election in November, there may be an interest among the Republicans that if they regain the Senate that this should be postponed until after they’re back in charge in both sides of the bicameral legislature,” Varmus said at the Sept. 9 meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

AACR 2014 Cancer Progress Report:

More Federal Funds Needed

The American Association for Cancer Research published its 2014 Cancer Progress Report Sept. 16, highlighting the need for greater federal investments in biomedical research. 

The report is a “comprehensive educational tool that chronicles the progress that has been made against cancer…and calls on the administration and Congress to prioritize the growth of the NIH and NCI budgets,” according to AACR.

Funding Opportunities
AACR Accepting Submissions for Two Dream Team Grants

The American Association for Cancer Research is accepting submissions of ideas to two dream team grants: one offering $20 million for lung cancer research, and one for $6 million for ovarian cancer research.

Funding for the lung cancer research grant will be provided by Stand Up To Cancer, the American Cancer Society and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The ovarian cancer research grant provides funding over three years, and is sponsored by Stand Up To Cancer, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

photoIn Brief

  • David Tweardy named head of internal medicine at MD Anderson

  • Dan Glickman named to ACS Cancer Action Network board of directors

  • Memorial Sloan Kettering begins construction on 285,000-square-foot outpatient center in Middletown, N.J.

  • Boehringer Ingelheim and CureVac announce collaboration.

  • Soligenix Inc. reaches phase III protocol agreement with FDA

  • Sutro Biopharma and Merck KGaA form ADC collaboration

  • Denovo Biopharma acquires enzastaurin rights from Eli Lilly & Co. 

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society partners with OncoPep

20140912 - Sep 12, 2014
ISSUE 34 – SEPT. 12, 2014PDF

Group Chairs Seek Role Running NCTN

Is the new National Clinical Trials Network set up for success or heading for failure?

The National Cancer Advisory Board Sept. 9 attempted to review the early signals coming from the institute’s revamped clinical trials system to determine whether it could use early tweaks. 

The institute’s new network, configured to conduct new-generation “smart” trials of targeted agents, creates new mandates and capabilities, but—overall—it provides no new money to the clinical trials system. 


Tobacco Interests Contribute a Portion Of the $109 Million Raised by Stand Up To Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer More, a non-profit cancer group that conducts televised fundraising events, raised over $109 million last weekend.

The group’s triumphant Sept. 7 press release, awash with pictures of participating Hollywood celebrities, hailed this achievement. However, the group also became a target for criticism for failing to mention that three high-level donors have ties to the tobacco industry.

SU2C officials aren’t denying the connection.

Guest Editorial
Learning from the Power Morcellation Fiasco:
Government Must Do More to Regulate Devices

Following our discovery that my wife’s occult uterine cancer was morcellated using a gynecological power morcellator, we initiated a vigorous campaign to protect others from this avoidable harm. 

It is now increasingly clear that one in 350-500 women with symptomatic fibroids have occult or missed uterine cancer lurking in what a majority of gynecological surgeons have assumed to be benign tumors. 

AACR Urges FDA to Regulate High Risk Lab-Developed Tests

The American Association for Cancer Research urged FDA to regulate high-risk laboratory-developed tests, a category of assays that has escaped scrutiny because of loopholes in the regulatory process.

Normally, FDA requires that diagnostic tests developed by manufacturers adhere to three measures: analytic validity, clinical validity, and clinical utility. However, laboratories can get around this requirement by using laboratory-developed tests, or LDTs.

Funding Opportunity
PanCAN Offering $4.1 Million in Research Grants

The American Association for Cancer Research urged FDA to regulate high-risk laboratory-developed tests, a category of assays that has escaped scrutiny because of loopholes in the regulatory process.

Normally, FDA requires that diagnostic tests developed by manufacturers adhere to three measures: analytic validity, clinical validity, and clinical utility. However, laboratories can get around this requirement by using laboratory-developed tests, or LDTs.

photoIn Brief

  • Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announce 2014 award winners

  • Andreas Hochhaus and Robert Gale named editors-in-chief of Leukemia

  • Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center receives five-year p30 Cancer Center Support Grant

  • Louis DeGennaro named president and CEO of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

  • Stanford University launches genetics and genomics certificate program

20140905 - Sep 5, 2014
ISSUE 33 – SEPT. 5, 2014PDF

Timeline Pinpoints the Role of Cancer Scandal

In a Progression Leading to Perry’s Indictment

The indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry by a Travis County grand jury brings together two complex subplots:

• The controversy over the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which came into public view May 8, 2012, with the resignation of its scientific leader, Nobel Laureate Alfred Gilman, who claimed that political interference had caused a departure from standard peer review in the handling of a proposal to fund a $20 million “biotechnology incubator” at MD Anderson Cancer Center, triggering a delay in funding of previously reviewed grants.

• The political wrangling that followed the April 12, 2013, drunk driving arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose duties include administering the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates corruption of state officials.

Device Maker Threatens Legal Action Against Doctor Who Launched Campaign to End Power Morcellation

A German company that makes devices now under FDA scrutiny for their potential to spread sarcoma threatened legal action against the U.S. surgeon whose wife’s cancer cells were disseminated during routine surgery to remove fibroids.

Setting decorum aside, Hooman Noorchashm has been haranguing FDA, Congress, and the gynecology and oncology profession into partial abandonment of the procedure. Though he hasn’t sued anyone, several law firms are looking for women harmed by the procedure who would be willing to take part in litigation.

CPRIT Awards $107.2 Million Round of Grants

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas last month awarded 101 new grants: 84 for research, 15 for prevention and two for product development.

CPRIT received nearly 600 grant applications, and after review, awarded grants to cancer researchers, prevention initiatives and product development projects from institutions and organizations across the state.


NCI launched another in a series of targeted treatment trials referred to as the Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trial.

ALCHEMIST seeks to identify mutations in early-stage lung cancer patients, and uses this information to assign them to treatments targeted for those mutations.

CAP Issues Active Surveillance Guidance
For Prostate Cancer

The College of American Pathologists published recommendations for active surveillance of patients with prostate cancer. 

The report highlighted key pathologic parameters for identifying patients likely to succeed with active surveillance, including: sampling, submission, and processing issues in needle biopsies; tumor extent in needle biopsies; biopsy reporting for all and special cases; Gleason scores; and precision medicine markers.

Health Groups Urge FDA To Regulate Tobacco Products, Including E-Cigarettes

The American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology urged the FDA to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. 

Additionally, 24 public health and medical organizations filed public comments in response to an FDA proposal to extend its regulatory authority over tobacco products. 


Jessie Gruman, 60, CFAH Founder and President

Jessie Gruman, founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health since 1992, died July 14. 

Jesse Leonard Steinfeld, 87, U.S. Surgeon General

Jesse Leonard Steinfeld, U.S. surgeon general from 1969 to 1973, died Aug. 5.  

photoIn Brief

  • George Weiner to become president of AACI

  • Stanton Gerson named AACI president-elect

  • Charles LeMaistre and Hans Mark named University of Texas System chancellors emeriti

  • James Davis elected chairman of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

  • Joyce Wong named certified pediatric nurse of the year by Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation

  • Patrick Soon-Shiong named global bioinformatics director of Providence Health and Services

  • Shawn Cline Tomasello appointed Pharmacyclics chief commercial officer

  • Jeffrey Litwin named editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Trial Results

  • MD Anderson and Memorial Hermann Health System to form partnership

  • LIVESTRONG Foundation to launch LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes

  • MD Anderson opens diagnostic imaging center in West Houston

photoDrug Approvals

  • FDA grants accelerated approval for Keytruda in metastatic melanoma

  • FDA approves Cologuard; CMS issues national coverage determination

  • FDA approves new use for Avastin in late-stage cervical cancer

  • European Medicines Agency acclerates assessment of lenvatinib