Issue 36 - Sep 30, 2016
  • Two Gigantic Health Systems Integrate Cancer Data to Bring Precision Medicine to Community Care

    By Matthew Bin Han Ong

    Two of the nation’s biggest nonprofit health systems—Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives—launched a precision medicine program that has the potential to create the largest collection of clinical cancer data ever compiled by a single organization.

    Together, Dignity and CHI, based in San Francisco and Englewood, Colo., respectively, operate nearly 150 hospitals and care centers across the U.S. Both rank in the top five largest nonprofit hospital systems.

  • NCI Suspends Frederick Lab Re-Competition Citing Moonshot, Zika and Ebola Research

    NCI has suspended re-competition of the the $400 million-a-year operations and technical support contract for the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

    A brief notice of suspension was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website at 4:06 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in the final business hours of the final day of the fiscal year.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    NCI’s Care Delivery Research Program Seeks to Involve Scientists from Other Fields

    Paul Jacobsen was named associate director of the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Science Healthcare Delivery Research Program. Jacobsen says he hopes his joining the institute signals to the scientific community the strength of the institute’s commitment to healthcare delivery research.

    “The use of ‘healthcare delivery research’ in the name of the program was intended to signal an interest in adding to the richness of traditional health services research by involving scientists from other fields whose work would be applicable to cancer care delivery settings,” said Jacobsen, who was most recently the associate center director for population science at the Moffitt Cancer Center.

  • Continuing Resolution Funds Zika, But Not Cancer or Biden’s Moonshot

    A continuing resolution passed Congress passed Sept. 28 will avoid a government shutdown and fund federal agencies through Dec. 9.

    This legislation comes two days before the government’s current funding was due to expire, at midnight Sept. 30. This would have closed all nonessential parts of the government, including NIH.

  • In Brief

    • University of Michigan Cancer Center appoints research leadership team
    • Richard Goldberg retires from Ohio State Cancer Center
    • Peter Schultz receives international Heinrich Wieland Prize
    • Lisa Kennedy Sheldon named chief clinical officer of Oncology Nursing Society
    • Christopher Heery named chief medical officer of Bavarian Nordic A/S
    • Timothy Kuzel named division chief at Rush University Medical Center
    • Morphotek Inc. enters sponsored research agreement with Fox Chase Cancer Center
    • Tempus partners with Northwestern’s Lurie Cancer Center on precision medicine partnership
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation contributes data to NCI Genomic Data Commons
    • Janssen submits supplemental FDA New Drug Application for ibrutinib
    • Boehringer Ingelheim and ViraTherapeutics to collaborate on oncolytic virus therapy platform
    • Genomics England Partners with GenomOncology on 100,000 Genomes Project
    • Pronai Therapeutics obtains exclusive license to develop and commercialize PNT737
    • Prix Galien Foundation announces “Discovery of the Decade” nominees
Issue 35 - Sep 23, 2016
  • No Moonshot Funds In House & Senate FY17 Appropriations Bills

    The National Cancer Moonshot Initiative is not slated to receive funding in fiscal 2017—neither the House nor Senate appropriations bill includes the $680 million the White House proposed for Vice President Joe Biden’s project.

    Despite great bipartisan breast-beating in support of boosting the NCI and NIH budgets, Congress has not set aside funding for the moonshot, a broad scientific and public health effort focused on improving clinical trials, data sharing, and streamlining regulatory processes for oncology products at FDA.

  • Obituary

    Sargent, Mayo Biostatistician and Clinical Trialist, Dies Unexpectedly at 46

    Dan Sargent, one of the world’s foremost experts in oncology clinical trials, died unexpectedly on Sept. 2. Sargent died from an acute illness, Mayo officials said. He was 46.

    “This is a tremendous loss to Mayo Clinic as well as the national and international cancer research community. Dan has given so much to so many,” said Robert Diasio, director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. “We are deeply saddened by his passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.”

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    OHSU Seeks to Raise another $1 Billion; Keith Todd Describes the Strategy

    After raising $1 billion for Knight Cancer Institute, the Oregon Health and Science University fundraising team set out to raise another $1 billion over five years—before 2020.

    Some of the money—at least $200 million—would go to cancer, but the rest is slated to support research and patient care in other areas of medicine, including neuroscience, HIV, heart disease, blindness, and child health.

  • In Brief

    • American Association for Cancer Research releases 2016 Cancer Progress Report
    • 90 cancer groups and centers urge CMS to rescind proposed lung cancer screening reimbursement cuts
    • Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) receives ASCO Congressional Leadership Award
    • Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc. under investigation for potential securities fraud
    • Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian rename shared medical campus for donors Herbert and Florence Irving
    • Shirley Johnson named senior vice president of Nursing & Patient Care Services of Roswell Park Cancer Institute
    • Falk Medical Research Trust awards $485,000 for uveal melanoma research
    • American Brain Tumor Association awards 16 brain tumor research grants
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives launch Precision Medicine Alliance
    • EMA recommends conditional marketing authorization for olaratumab
    • Golden Meditech and MD Anderson announce creation of Cellenkos Inc.
    • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute agree to exchange cancer mutation data
    • ORIEN and HudsonAlpha announce new research collaboration
Issue 34 - Sep 16, 2016
  • ODAC Slams Spectrum for Massaging Data From Two Bladder Cancer Trials

    A brief consult with an undergraduate earning a B or above in Statistics 101 might have acquainted Spectrum Pharmaceuticals executives with all the science that would have saved them from a devastating encounter with an FDA advisory committee.

    Yet, there they were, black suits and all, at a suburban Maryland conference center, watching the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee vote unanimously against approval of Spectrum’s bladder cancer therapy Qapzola (apaziquone). 

    During the Sept. 14 meeting, FDA officials said repeatedly that taking apaziquone, a drug chemically related to mitomycin, to ODAC wasn’t their idea.

  • White House: New Moonshot Initiatives On Clinical Trials Will Improve Speed, Access

    Vice President Joe Biden Sept. 16 announced a series of initiatives to improve the safety, accessibility, and impact of clinical research—one of the central goals of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

    The programs, which span four federal entities—NCI, FDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and NIH—would make existing clinical trial search sites more user-friendly, and ensure that results of clinical trials are shared in a timely fashion.

  • NCI Director’s Report

    Lowy: RPG Funding Increased by $100M From 2013 to 2015—150 More Grants Funded

    Research Project Grant funding at NCI has increased 25 percent, from $400 million in 2013 to $500 million in 2015, NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy said to the National Cancer Advisory Board Sept. 7.

    NCI’s fiscal 2016 budget is $5.21 billion, an increase of $260.5 million over fiscal 2015. This represents the  first time in about three years that funding for the institute has recovered to above pre-sequestration levels.

  • Abcodia Suspends Sale of Ovarian Cancer Screening Test After FDA Communication

    Abcodia Inc., a British company that manufactures a controversial ovarian cancer screening test, said it will temporarily suspend the availability of the product in the United States.

    ROCA, also known as the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm, uses a blood test called CA-125 and patients’ history to determine their risk for developing ovarian cancer.

  • Obituary

    John Bailar, Epidemiologist and Critic of War on Cancer, Dies at 83

    John Christian Bailar III, an epidemiologist and biostatistician known for his criticism of NCI’s emphasis on treatment, died Sept. 6. He was 83.

    Bailar riffed on the bellicose language of President Richard Nixon’s “War on Cancer” to suggest that the war in question was being lost. Researchers have focused too much on treatment and not enough on prevention, he argued.

  • Obituary

    Hopkins Biologist Saul Sharkis Dies at 72; Studied Blood Stem Cells’ Role in BMT

    Saul Sharkis, a scientist who studied the biology of blood stem cells and how they could be used to treat cancer through bone marrow transplantation, died Sept. 4. He was 72.

    Sharkis was a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a faculty member in the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center for more than 40 years.

  • In Brief

    • Eric Fearon named director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
    • William Kaelin, Peter Ratcliffe, and Gregg Semenza receive 2016 Lasker Award for basic medical research
    • NCI publishes full list of FY2016 SPORE grantees
    • NCCN collaborates with New Century Health to integrate Imaging Appropriate Use Criteria
    • Levi Garraway succeeds Richard Gaynor as Lilly Oncology senior vice president, Global Development & Medical Affairs
    • Brian Goldstein named chief health system officer of UW Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the University of Washington
    • Ashani Weeratna named Ira Brind Associate Professor at the Wistar Institute
    • Thomas Imperiale named inaugural Lawrence Lumeng Professor in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Indiana University School of Medicine
    • The Terry Fox Foundation awards $27.3 million to six Canadian research teams
    • FDA issues first warning letters for selling e-cigarettes, e-liquids and cigars to minors
    • FDA modifies dosage regimen for nivolumab (Opdivo) for the currently approved indications
    • The European Commission issues marketing authorization for lenvatinib (Kisplyx) in combination with everolimus