Special Report - Aug 1, 2016
  • MD Anderson (Again) On Top
    of U.S. News and World Report Ranking

    The U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best cancer hospitals for 2016 brought no great surprises. The top four cancer centers did not change from last year:

    1) MD Anderson Cancer Center,

    2) Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,

    3) Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. and

    4) Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

    There was a change in this year’s No. 5 slot: UCLA Medical Center. Last year, it was the Seattle Cancer Alliance and University of Washington Medical Center

    Though the system used by U.S. News isn’t regarded as scientific, directors of cancer centers and folks in marketing pay close attention to even the smallest of changes in the standing of their institutions.

Issue 30 - Jul 29, 2016
  • Foundation Medicine Contributes 18,000 Cases to NCI’s Genomic Data Commons

    When the Genomic Data Commons opened June 6, the $20 million portal that consolidates NCI’s datasets contained genomic information from 14,500 patients.

    Before the end of the month, that number jumped to 32,500, as a result of a contribution from Foundation Medicine Inc., a molecular information company founded in 2011.

    The GDC was announced in June by Vice President Joe Biden as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

    “We’re adding 18,000 cases from Foundation,” said Louis Staudt, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics. “Many important cancer genes, up to 287, have been sequenced by Foundation in these cases. We applaud their public spirit, and we are really glad that they anted up.”

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Pellini: Data Sharing Central to Mission At Foundation Medicine

    Making data broadly available to clinicians and researchers has always been a part of the mission for Foundation Medicine Inc., said Michael Pellini, the company’s CEO.

    “We are proud to say the data that we contributed represents an important part of the GDC in terms of its sheer size,” said Pellini, discussing FMI’s decision to contribute 18,000 de-identified patient cases to NCI’s Genomic Data Commons.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Staudt: Foundation Medicine’s “Philanthropy of Data” More Than Doubles GDC Portfolio

    Foundation Medicine approached NCI with the idea to make their data useful in the public domain.

    “They had heard through a variety of mechanisms that we were doing the Genomic Data Commons, and they thought this was a good possible fit,” said Louis Staudt, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics. “In the end, it did turn out to be good for both of us.”

    Foundation donated the data from 18,000 de-identified cases, more than doubling the GDC’s total, up to 32,500.

  • Funding Opportunity

    Shire, ACMG Foundation Offering Fellowships in Medical Genetics

    Applications are being accepted for the ACMG Foundation/Shire Laboratory Geneticist Fellowship Awards and Clinical Genetics Residency Program. The program will facilitate 10 one-to-two-year training awards for medical geneticists over the next three years, after a $1.65 million commitment from Shire.

    Applications are available online and will be due in early September for residency programs accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics, beginning in July 2017.

  • Drugs and Targets

    • CHMP issues positive opinion for Onivyde 
    • EMA grants PRIME designation to DNX-2401
    • Mylan and Biocon submit marketing application to EMA for biosimilar Pegfilgrastim
Issue 29 - Jul 22, 2016
  • Health Centers Limit Reach of Texas Law Allowing Guns on University Campuses

    This may not be the sort of targeted therapy Texas healthcare institutions wish to be known for, but starting Aug. 1, visitors to designated areas at MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Southwestern, and UT Health Science Center at San Antonio will be able to carry their guns.

    Texas Senate Bill 11, colloquially known as “campus carry,” decrees that “concealed handgun license holders can from now on carry handguns in a concealed fashion at institutions of higher education.”

    Controversy in Texas is fueled by belief of some that gun-carrying, law-abiding citizens are owed the opportunity to defend themselves.

    On the other side of this debate are doctors who—if an MD Anderson survey is an indication—don’t welcome the opportunity to pack heat, and believe that guns would, in fact, make them less safe in the workplace.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Weber: We Cannot Completely Ban Guns From MD Anderson’s Campus

    In response to Texas concealed carry laws, MD Anderson proposed a plan that would allow guns only in designated buildings—the rest, specifically areas of worship and hospital facilities, are gun-exclusion zones.

    The UT System Board of Regents approved the cancer center’s recommendations on campus carry July 15.

    “We cannot invoke a policy that explicitly or implicitly bans guns from campus, so the primary message was we are going to follow Texas law,” said Max Weber, associate vice president and deputy chief compliance officer at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “I think we sort of fell into this law incidentally…

    “We are a comprehensive cancer center. We are in the business of healing and curing cancer. We’re not a traditional school or university.”

  • Speaking of Guns

    MD Anderson Faculty, Staff Responses to Gun Survey

    MD Anderson surveyed 450 faculty, trainees and staff Sept. 29 through Nov. 10, 2015, to gather their opinions on campus-carry gun laws. Here’s what they said:

    “The American Medical Association has identified gun use and gun violence as a major medical problem in the US. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as a health care institution to reflect the medical priorities and the values of those of us who have taken oaths to care for the health of others.”

  • BSA and NCAB Approve Three Concepts

    At a June 21 joint meeting, the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board approved three concepts and deferred one.

  • In Brief

    • UC Santa Cruz receives $2.5 million grant from St. Baldrick’s for Treehouse initiative
    • Susan Pitt receives young investigator award from UW Carbone Cancer Center
    • Charles Simone II named medical director at Maryland Proton Treatment Center
    • Abishek Aphale named assistant professor of dermatology at Fox Chase
    • Rajeswari Nagarathinam joins Fox Chase department of pathology
    • Vy Dinh and Mariana Khawand-Azoulai join Miami Cancer Institute
    • NIH to work with Wondros communications firm for Precision Medicine Initiative
    • Merck to build new campus in Burlington, Mass.
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Health Canada approves Imbruvica in untreated CLL
    • CHMP issues positive opinion for Kisplyx in renal cell carcinoma
    • GlaxoSmithKline and University of Leicester to form collaboration