20150116 - Jan 16, 2015
ISSUE 2 – JAN. 16, 2015PDF

Duke Scientist: I Hope NCI Doesn’t Get Original Data

In May 2008, the Blue Devils of genomic medicine were facing a mortal threat.

An NCI biostatistician was demanding the data Duke University scientists used to derive the predictors of response in ovarian cancer.

This inquiry had the potential to sink Duke’s technology that was purported to analyze tumors and use genomic insight to identify the optimal treatment for each patient. According to Duke’s projections, cancer treatment decisions are made 700,000 times a year in the U.S. alone.

Multiply that by $3,000—the going rate for advanced tests at that time—and you have $2.1 billion.

How the “Bad Luck” Cancer Paper Was Misread by the Press

How much of the potential to develop cancer is due to plain “bad luck”?

A paper published Jan. 1 in Science titled, “Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of cell divisions,” generated a mild controversy when the authors’ use of the term “bad luck” caught on in the press.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
Kramer: Our Cancer Risk Is Not in the Stars

The stochastic process of stem cell divisions should not be equated with bad luck, said Barnett Kramer, director of the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention, focusing on misinterpretations of the “Bad Luck” paper by Cristian Tomasetti and Bert Vogelstein, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

AVEO Cuts Workforce by 66%, Ending Research Functions

AVEO Oncology announced plans to cut its workforce by two-thirds, end its internal research functions, and vacate up to 80 percent of its facilities, including laboratory and vivarium locations. The biotechnology company was co-founded by Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The restructuring would leave about 20 full-time positions.

 

FASEB Offers Recommendations To Improve Research Funding

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology called for a re-examination of the way research is funded in the U.S., in a report detailing the challenges facing researchers and the threats to continued progress in the field.

The report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Science: A Framework for Discussion, presents a series of recommendations to alleviate them.

 

Obituary
Dorothy “Dottie” Thomas, 92, “Mother of Bone Marrow Transplantation”

Dorothy “Dottie” Thomas, wife and research partner to 1990 Nobel laureate E. Donnall Thomas, died Jan. 9, at her home near Seattle. She was 92. 

Don Thomas, pioneer of the bone marrow transplant and former director of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, preceded her in death on Oct. 20, 2012, also at age 92.

In Brief

  • MD Anderson’s Andrew Lee moves to Texas Center for Proton Therapy

  • A. Eugene Washington named chancellor for health affairs at Duke University

  • Julie Brahmer named director of thoracic oncology at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

  • Naiyer Rizvi named director of thoracic oncology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

  • Seton Hall University and Hackensack University Health Network to form four-year, private medical school

  • Roche acquires Bina Technologies Inc.

  • Karmanos Cancer Institute receives $5 million grant from the Dresner Foundation

  • ASCO and College of American Pathologists announce partnership

  • Mount Sinai Health System and Valley Health System announce collaboration

  • Pelotonia awards six grants to Ohio State

  • Genentech and Human Longevity Inc. announce multi-year agreement

  • MD Anderson, Intrexon, and Ziopharm announce sublicensing agreement with the University of Minnesota

  • Amgen and MD Anderson announce research agreement

20150109 - Jan 9, 2015
ISSUE 1 – JAN. 9, 2015PDF

Internal Emails Raise New Questions
Duke Officials Silenced Med Student Who Reported Trouble in Anil Potti’s Lab

Duke University would have avoided embarrassment, a misconduct investigation and a lawsuit, had its top administrators paid closer attention to a thoughtful report by a medical student who saw problems in the lab of the disgraced scientist Anil Potti.

Documents obtained by The Cancer Letter show that Duke’s deans were warned about Potti’s misconduct in late March and early April 2008, at the time when clinical trials of the now discredited Duke genomic technology were getting started.

The three-page document was penned by Bradford Perez, then a third-year medical student and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholar.

Instead of rewarding the student’s brilliance with a plaque and a potted plant, Potti’s collaborator and protector, Joseph Nevins—aided by a phalanx of Duke deans—pressured the young man to refrain from making a final complaint and reporting the matter to HHMI.

The Med Student’s Memo

An Appreciation
Joseph McLaughlin, 66, Cancer Epidemiologist

Joseph McLaughlin, an internationally recognized epidemiologist who made numerous contributions towards increasing understanding of the causes of cancer, died unexpectedly Dec. 10, 2014.

He directed key research in the United States and abroad clarifying the roles of tobacco, obesity, diet, occupation and other factors in the etiology of several cancers, especially kidney cancer, for which he was considered among the world’s experts. He led some of the largest studies exploring the etiology of renal cell and renal pelvis cancers, quantifying levels of risk associated with multiple lifestyle and environmental factors.

Obituary
Anthony Murgo, of the FDA Office of Hematology and Oncology Products

Anthony (Tony) J. Murgo, died Dec. 17, 2014 after a courageous year-long battle with cancer. He was a passionate research physician with a kind bedside manner. 

Murgo was a dedicated federal employee for 25 years, serving in multiple capacities at FDA and NCI. As the associate director of regulatory science of the FDA’s Office of Hematology and Oncology Products, Murgo was the liaison between that office and NCI’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. Within OHOP, Murgo also served as a medical reviewer, a team leader and a division director for Division of Oncology Products 1.

Drugs and Targets

  • Accelerated Approval Granted to Opdivo in Metastatic Melanoma
  • FDA approved a supplemental biologics license application for Gazyva
  • FDA approved an updated version of MarginProbe
  • FDA granted Fast Track designation to SGX301
  • Polaris Group’s lead product candidate, ADI-PEG 20 receives US and EU orphan designations
  • Amgen and Kite Pharma entered into a strategic research collaboration
  • Taiho Oncology Inc. submits NDA for TAS-102
In Brief

  • Donald Trump named CEO of Inova Cancer Care and Research Institute

  • Dario Altieri named CEO of The Wistar Institute

  • Sharmila Makhija named chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine

  • Nipun Merchant joins Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

  • St. Jude receives $2 million pledge from InfinityQS International Inc.

  • NCI Director Harold Varmus addresses NCI staff and grantees with an outlook on the new year

20141219 - Dec 19, 2014
ISSUE 47 – DEC. 19, 2014PDF

Congress Plans to Accelerate Development of Drugs, Devices

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is spearheading legislation aimed streamlining development of drugs and medical devices. 

The bipartisan initiative, called “21st Century Cures,” was launched April 30, and is led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chief deputy whip.

Research Advocates Prepare to Face Republican-led Congress

The 113th Congress staggered through its final spending bill, approving $1.1 trillion in a massive “cromnibus” Dec. 13, keeping most of the federal government funded through September 2015, and locking in a half-percent increase for NIH and NCI in FY2015.

Biomedical research advocates bemoaned the modest increase in funding—$150 million for NIH and $27 million for NCI—and questioned Congress’s commitment to scientific progress. 

Half-Percent NIH, NCI Budget Raise Is Not Enough, Advocates Say

The Cancer Letter asked leaders of science and cancer advocacy groups to comment on the half-percent increases in federal funding for NIH and NCI in fiscal 2015, and on the prospects of science funding when Republicans take control of Congress in January. 

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
Is Republican Control Better Than Two-Party Stalemate?

As Congress goes into recess and Democrats relinquish their eight-year control of the Senate, advocates for biomedical research are rethinking their approaches to a political reality not observed in nearly a decade: a Republican-controlled Congress.

Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, a coalition that represents 27 scientific societies and over 120,000 researchers worldwide, says she is optimistic about prospects for science funding in the 114th Congress. 

The reason: both sides have learned that stalemates benefit no one.

ACS President & COO Resigns Unexpectedly; Was Seen as Contender for CEO Position

Gregory Bontrager resigned from his position as chief operating officer and president of the American Cancer Society.

His resignation was announced in an email from ACS Chief Executive Officer John Seffrin Dec. 18. No reason for the departure was cited. 

Bontrager, who became the COO in 2007 and president in 2013, was, in effect, the society’s second-most-powerful official, and one of the engineers of its current move to a centralized structure.

The Cancer Letter is taking a Holiday Break. 

The next issue will be published on Jan. 9, 2015.

ODAC To Advise FDA on First Biosimilars Application Jan. 7

The FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee will meet Jan. 7, 2015, to discuss a biologics license application for a proposed biosimilar to Amgen Inc.’s Neupogen (filgrastim).

The biosimilar application, submitted by Sandoz Inc., will be the first such application to be filed and discussed by an FDA advisory committee. 

NCI Advisory Board Approves Three Concepts

At a meeting Dec. 2, the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors approved three concepts during a joint meeting with the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Editorial

A Record-Breaking Year for The Cancer Letter

2014 was a transformative year for The Cancer Letter. 

• We launched a new website that makes our content possible to read online without downloading PDF files. 

• We made the website “responsive,” enabling it to adapt to all screen sizes, including smartphones and tablets. Now, about a third of our readers use these devices. An app will be available shortly.

Regulatory Approvals

  • FDA expanded the approved use of Cyramza to include metastatic NSCLC
  • FDA approves Somatuline Depot Injection (lanreotide) for metastatic GEP-NETs
  • Lynparza (olaparib) and companion diagnostic approved in gBRCAm advanced ovarian cancer
  • 510(k) clearance granted to Narrow Band Imaging for bladder cancer patient
  • FDA clears Advaxis immunotherapy phase I/II trial IND application
  • Genentech submits new drug application for cobimetinibn
In Brief

  • Fabien Calvo named chief scientific officer of Cancer Core Europe

  • OSUCCC – James moves into new cancer hospital

  • MD Anderson and UnitedHealthcare launch bundled payment program

  • Ohio State University names 2014 James Hope Award winners

  • Washington University at St. Louis genome center receives $25 million pledge

  • George Washington University Cancer Institute receives $150,000 from Center for Advancing Health

  • Northwestern University’s Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center enters research agreement with NeoGenomics Inc.

  • Oregon Health & Science University and FEI expand Living Lab for Cell Biology agreement

  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America select WIRB-Copernicus Group to help expand its clinical research program

20141212 - Dec 12, 2014
ISSUE 46 – DEC. 12, 2014PDF

Is Everyone in Academic Medicine Unhappy?
Or is it Just MD Anderson?

Faculty members at MD Anderson Cancer Center are arguably the most intensely watched cohort in academic medicine. Their angst has been measured four times by three administrative entities over two years.

Now, the institution’s president, Ronald DePinho, is under a mandate from his bosses to improve faculty morale.

Are these folks an anomaly, or is everyone in academic medicine unhappy these days?

There is a place to obtain comparison data: the Faculty Forward Engagement Survey conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

Senate Debates $1.1 Trillion “Cromnibus” Bill That Includes a $150 Million Increase for NIH

Early Friday morning, President Barack Obama signed a two-day funding resolution averting a government shutdown and giving the Senate time to debate a $1.1 trillion funding package passed by the House of Representatives late Thursday night.

The year-long “cromnibus” bill—a Washington-speak portmanteau of continuing resolution and omnibus—passed by a 219-to-206 vote three hours before government funding expired.

Daniel Hayes Elected President of ASCO

Daniel Hayes was elected president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The three-year appointment begins with Hayes becoming president-elect on June 1, 2015. He will serve as president from June 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017, and will serve as immediate past-president for the year after. 

 

Varmus Discusses Grant Policy, Changes in Congress and Ebola

NCI Director Harold Varmus addressed a joint meeting of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board Dec. 2, updating them on his proposed bypass budget for the institute, changes in Congressional leadership, and NCI and NIH grant policy.

NCI’s Douglas Lowy and John Schiller Honored with National Medal

NCI’s Douglas Lowy and John Schiller were honored by President Barack Obama with a National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement, for their work in developing a vaccine for human papilloma virus.

 

Obituary

Lee Wattenberg, 92, “Father of Chemoprevention”

Lee Wattenberg, emeritus professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, died Dec. 9 at the age of 92. 

His research established the discipline of chemoprevention. Wattenberg first recognized that some compounds could effectively block the development of carcinogens in animals. In 1966, he published a paper in the journal Cancer Research that reviewed 36 years of animal studies on the effects of certain compounds on carcinogenesis and laid the framework for our understanding of how these compounds work. It was in this paper that he introduced the term chemoprophylaxis. 

Regulatory Approvals

  • Gardasil 9 approved, which covers five additional HPV types
  • FDA grants Fast Track designation to DPX-Survivac cancer vaccine
  • FDA approves a new indication for Xgeva (denosumab)
  • FDA approves MP Diagnostics HTLV Blot 2.4 test
  • FDA grants clearance for SAVI SCOUT surgical guidance system
In Brief

  • Weldon Gage named CFO at MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Marcelo Bento Soares named senior associate dean at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

  • Boris Kuvshinoff II named chief medical quality officer and interim chief medical officer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute

  • David Currow named director of palliative medicine and hospice care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock

  • Joanna Weiss appointed VP of revenue cycle management at Moffitt Cancer Center

  • American Cancer Society publishes second edition of The Cancer Atlas

  • Marlo Thomas receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

  • RxTrials and Clinical Oncology Research Excellence form collaboration

  • Yale University and Organovo Holdings Inc. partner to research 3D printed tissues

  • Pharmacyclics receives award for Imbruvica

  • The CrowdCare Foundation announces myeloma research crowdfunding initiative

  • Seattle Children’s launches Strong Against Cancer fundraiser

20141205 - Dec 5, 2014
ISSUE 45 – DEC. 5, 2014PDF

Urgent FDA Action Turns Power Morcellation Into Rarely Used Gynecological Procedure

The power morcellator should no longer be used for hysterectomies or fibroid removal in the vast majority of women getting these procedures, FDA declared in a highly anticipated guidance document Nov. 24.

Using a new authority that bypasses public comment, the agency stopped short of imposing an outright ban on the device, but severely restricted its use.

Top NCI Officials Pledge No Further Consolidation of Clinical Trials System

Top NCI officials made an unusual assurance that the reorganization of clinical trials cooperative groups isn’t a “prelude to reducing the commitment of the NCI to clinical trials-based research.”

The document, published as a letter to the editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology on Dec. 1, follows up on a meeting Sept. 23, where group chairs and directors of statistical centers asked NCI to assure them that no new cuts are in the works.

Brigham & Women’s Suspends Controversial Morcellation Study As Apparent “Difference of Opinion” with FDA Comes to Light

The Brigham & Women’s Hospital has halted a controversial study that combined power morcellators with “containment bags” intended to capture tissue during minimally invasive gynecological surgery.

Launched earlier this summer, the study was designed to enroll 400 women to test dye leakage in several commercially available bags that have not been cleared by FDA for use with power morcellators.

Varmus’s 2016 Bypass Budget Seeks “Modest” Increase of $823 Million

NCI has published the bypass budget for the fiscal year 2016, asking for $5.754 billion, an $823 million increase over the estimated budget of $4.931 billion.

NYC Doctor Pays $2.35 Million To Settle False Claims Act Suit Over Radiosurgery Reimbursements

A New York City radiation oncologist who specializes in fractionated stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy agreed to pay $2.35 million to resolve a 10-year-old Medicare fraud lawsuit.

 

Drugs and Targets

  • Blincyto granted accelerated approval in R/R ALL
  • Broad Institute, Harvard University, MIT and Editas Medicine form collaboration
  • FDA grants clearance to IQQA-BodyImaging
  • CMS issues final payment decision for Cologuard screening test
photoIn Brief

  • David Chambers named deputy director for implementation science at NCI DCCPS

  • Linda Weiss announces intention to retire from NCI Office of Cancer Centers

  • 2014 John Scott Award winners announced

  • Nicholas Petrelli receives clinical research award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers

  • Anjen Chenn named VP of clinical operations at Metamark

20141121 - Nov 21, 2014
ISSUE 44 – NOV. 21, 2014PDF

As FDA Weighs its Options on Morcellation, Debate Erupts Over Harvard Device Study

Here is what we know: A surgical device used to perform about 100,000 hysterectomies and myomectomies every year in the U.S. has been shown to spread cells from undetected or missed uterine cancers—rapidly upstaging the disease.

And here is what we don’t know: What will FDA do about it?

The agency is under pressure to respond to the growing outcry from patient advocates, who want a ban on the device.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Demetri: Morcellation Worsens Outcomes In Patients with Undiagnosed Cancers

As an oncologist who treats sarcoma, George Demetri has seen the adverse consequences of power morcellation, the surgical technique widely used to perform laparoscopic hysterectomies and remove putative fibroids.

In a small minority of cases, these fibroids instead represent unsuspected malignancies—including rare and aggressive leiomyosarcomas—which were impossible to detect prior to the morcellation procedure.

The Cancer Letter is taking a Thanksgiving Break.

The next issue will be published on Dec. 5.

CPRIT Awards 32 Grants

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas awarded 20 grants through its product development program, five grants through its prevention program, and seven recruitment grants through its research program, totaling more than $65 million.

ASCO Proposes Principles For Future Debate on Medicaid

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has proposed a set of principles for shaping future debate of the role of Medicaid.

Obituary

Connie Curran, 67, C-Change Executive Director

Connie Curran, 67, the first executive director of C-Change, died Nov. 10.

C-Change brings together leaders in cancer from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. 

Curran was born in Berlin, Wis. She held degrees from the University of Wisconsin, DePaul University, and Northern Illinois University. She also is a graduate of Harvard University Business School’s Owner/President Management program.

FDA News

photoIn Brief

  • D. Gary Gilliland Named President and Director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

  • Mark Gilbert named chief of Neuro-Oncology Branch at NIH

  • Bert Vogelstein awarded Warren Triennial Prize by Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Susan Mayne appointed director of FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

  • Merck KGaA and Pfizer Inc. to co-develop anti-PD-LI antibody

  • NYU Langone Medical Center and Lutheran Medical Center to create integrated healthcare network

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Astellas Pharma Inc. announce three-year collaboration

  • Tapimmune Inc. and Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida form partnership

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opens Marlo Thomas Center

  • Karmanos Cancer Institute honored by Michigan Cancer Consortium

20141114 - Nov 14, 2014
ISSUE 43 – NOV. 14, 2014PDF

CMS Inserts Unprecedented Conditions Into Medicare Coverage of Lung Screening

CT screening of the lungs of current and former heavy smokers is about to become a Medicare benefit.

A proposed decision published Nov. 10 has inserted some unprecedented conditions into its decision to cover screening:

Beneficiaries would have to go through counseling, and health professionals would be required to provide documentation that “shared decision-making” took place. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has never mandated shared decision-making as a gateway to paying for a service.

Guest Editorial

Brawley: CMS Got it Right in Lung Cancer Screening Decision

This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule stating that the scientific evidence was sufficient to support reimbursement for counseling on the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening as well as lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography in high risk individuals and once per year. CMS will pay for such services when provided to beneficiaries at high risk for lung cancer and when provided by physicians and centers with specific qualifications.

FDA News

CPRIT Sets Funding Priorities For Rare and Pediatric Cancers

The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas is adding rare cancers and childhood cancers to its list of funding priorities, according to a draft program report.

The Texas legislature requires the oversight committee of the $300 million state-funded program to establish funding priorities on an annual basis. This is the first time these priorities are articulated and vetted in a public setting, officials say.

CDC: About 8 Million Women Skipped Cervical Cancer Screening in the Past 5 Years

About eight million women ages 21 to 65 years have not been screened for cervical cancer in the past five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half of new cervical cancer cases occur among women who have never or rarely been screened.

2015 Breakthrough Prize Winners Announced at Gala

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced the recipients of its prizes in life sciences and fundamental physics, who will receive awards of $3 million.

photoIn Brief

  • Susan O’Brien to move to UC Irvine Health

  • Rosemarie Henson named senior vice president for prevention and early detection of the American Cancer Society

  • Michael Bishop to receive award from the Van Andel Research Institute

  • Antje Hoering named CEO of Cancer Research and Biostatistics

  • Nancy Hesse named chief nursing officer of Cancer Treatment Centers of America

  • Kathleen Green appointed associate director of basic sciences research at Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

  • Nancy Weigel named editor-in-chief of the journal Hormones and Cancer

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology forms new clinical affairs department

  • Community Oncology Alliance publishes report on closings of cancer clinics

  • Harrington Discovery Institute and University of Oxford form affiliation

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Astellas Pharma Inc. announce three-year collaboration

  • AstraZeneca, Pharmacyclics Inc., and Janssen Research & Development LLC to collaborate on MEDI4736 and Imbruvica trials

20141107 - Nov 7, 2014
ISSUE 42 – NOV. 7, 2014PDF

UT System (Again) Directs DePinho to Cure MD Anderson Faculty Angst

Over the past two years, four separate surveys attempted to gauge the level of faculty morale and satisfaction at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

All produced similar results: faculty morale is low, and a large proportion of the faculty says the administration is tone-deaf to their needs. The executive leadership is seen as not appropriately responding to internal issues. 

The latest survey—conducted by the UT System and reported on Nov. 3—allows comparison with the earlier efforts.

The Survey Results

Greenberg: More Work Needs to be Done

After three very similar surveys yielded results that pointed to disaffection and disenfranchisement on the part of the faculty at MD Anderson, the UT System officials said they expect a “renewed, constructive and collaborative effort” to address the problems.

Funding Opportunity

NCI to Host SBIR Investor Forum

NCI is hosting a Small Business Innovation Research Investor Forum Nov. 13 at Agilent Technologies in Santa Clara, Calif., where 28 SBIR-funded companies will present cancer therapeutics, diagnostics, and devices.

photoIn Brief

  • David Nathan receives Lifetime Impact Award from Boston Children’s Hospital

  • Steven Finklestein appointed chief science officer of 21st Century Oncology

  • City of Hope awarded $8 million to launch stem cell therapy clinic

  • American Cancer Society honors researchers at Fox Chase and Temple University 

  • Cancer Innovation Coalition holds policy briefing on Capitol Hill

photoDrugs and Targets

  • Cyramza approved in metastatic stomach cancer

  • Velos and MD Anderson Cancer Center launch investigational drug computer data system

20141031 - Oct 31, 2014
ISSUE 41 – OCT. 31, 2014PDF

How Elite Institutions Were Affected By A Decade of Constricted Funding

The ten-year period of erosion that followed the doubling of the NIH budget has hit some research institutions harder than others.

NIH appropriations figures provide a glimpse of the state of science funding in the U.S., but they don’t shed light on how individual institutions and areas of research are affected.

To conduct an exploratory analysis of levels of funding at specific institutions, The Cancer Letter compiled NIH and NCI funding figures from 2003 to 2013 for eight freestanding cancer centers and nine other research institutions that include cancer centers. A focus on freestanding cancer centers provides a snapshot of funding at institutions engaged primarily in basic and clinical cancer research.

 The Impact of Triple Calamities: Flat Funding, the End of ARRA, and a Dramatic Loss of Purchasing Power

The Cancer Letter asked leaders of cancer centers, professional societies, and science advocacy organizations to comment on declining levels of NIH and NCI funding at freestanding cancer centers and selected academic institutions that include cancer centers.

Guest Editorial
The Academic Difference: George Weiner On How America’s Cancer Centers Are More Valuable Than Ever

“The nation’s academic cancer centers are a national resource that will increase in value as remarkable changes continue in biomedical research, cancer care, and health policy.”

Bennett, Federal Prosecutors Reach $475,000 Settlement

Charles Bennett, an oncologist and cancer researcher whose work focuses on adverse events caused by pharmaceutical products, settled a federal complaint brought by a whistleblower alleging irregularities in the management of R01 research grants administered by Northwestern University. 

Northwestern paid $2.93 million in 2013 to settle allegations of mismanaging five of Bennett’s R01 grants. 

Funding Opportunity
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Launches Myeloid Program

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society launched a program to fund research projects focused on myeloid diseases, such as myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms, both of which can progress to acute myeloid leukemia. 

photoIn Brief

  • City of Hope launches Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute

  • Lisa Richardson named director of CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

  • Milan Mrksich named associate director for research technology and infrastructure at Lurie Cancer Center

  • Ronan Swords receives Pap Corps Endowed Professorship

  • Laura Brod named CEO of GeneSegues Therapeutics

  • Merck Serono names three grant winners

  • Martine Extermann receives top award from International Society of Geriatric Oncology

  • Aptose Biosciences Inc. joins Beat AML consortium

  • Meridian Health and Hackensack University Health Network to discuss merging health systems

  • Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University launches statewide program

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology endorses AUA/ASTRO Guideline

photoDrugs and Targets

  • FDA extends Lymphoseek label to include mapping in solid tumors

  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network approves VeriStrat predictive proteomics test

  • Myriad Genetics establishes European laboratory

  • Case Medical Center and Seidman Cancer Center select GenomOncology for workflow management

  • Qiagen and Astellas Pharma to collaborate on companion diagnostics

20141024 - Oct 24, 2014
ISSUE 40 – OCT. 24, 2014PDF



40 Years Later
Doctor and Patient Reflect on the Cure

On Oct. 21, 1974, John Cleland lay in a hospital bed at Indiana University Hospital.

At 23, he had just graduated from Purdue University and just married.

He was also three weeks into a fourth-line chemotherapy regimen for advanced metastatic testicular cancer. The disease had spread to his lungs.

Lawrence Einhorn, Cleland’s doctor, told him that this was the end of the road.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
Einhorn: “I Still Harbor Hope For Similar Success Stories”

The Cancer Letter asked Lawrence Einhorn, distinguished professor of medicine and the Livestrong Foundation Professor of Oncology at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, to reflect on one of the most spectacular successes in the history of cancer research—his development of the curative regimen for testicular cancer.

Caris Life Sciences Lays Off Estimated 20 Percent of Staff

Caris Life Sciences Inc. last week reduced its workforce by 50 people—about 20 percent, sources said.

While a 50-person reduction in force is small by pharma industry standards, the development could be significant because Caris is a key player in the emerging market for molecular therapies.

HRSA: Discounts Owed on Some Orphan Drug Uses

The Health Resources and Services Administration last week warned pharmaceutical companies that they must continue to offer 340B Drug Pricing Program discounts on some uses of orphan drugs.

Cancer Support Community Reports on Patient Experiences

Cancer Support Community released the findings report from the first year-and-a-half of the Cancer Experience Registry.

Institute of Medicine Elects 80 New Members

The Institute of Medicine named 70 new members and 10 foreign associates during its 44th annual meeting.

New members are elected by current active members through a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

photoIn Brief

  • Benjamin Neel named director of NYU Cancer Center

  • Brad Pollock named chair of public health department at UC Davis

  • Richard Zellars named chair of radiation oncology at IU School of Medicine

  • David Mauro named chief medical officer and VP of Advaxis Inc.

  • James Tulsky receives award from American Cancer Society

  • Mary Kozik named senior director of development at Winship Cancer Institute

  • Northwestern Mutual and Alex’s Lemonade Stand fund eight young investigators

  • Association of Community Cancer Centers receives gift from Bristol-Myers Squibb

  • Stand Up To Cancer epigenetics dream team receives $7.5 million from Van Andel Research Institute

photoDrugs and Targets

  • EU approves Imbruvica in MCL, CLL

  • CMS publishes two draft coverage determinations for molecular prostate cancer tests

  • Priority Health to cover FoundationOne genomic profiles

  • Celgene and Sutro Biopharma to collaborate on antibody-drug conjugates