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