20150904 - Sep 4, 2015
ISSUE 32 – SEPT. 4, 2015PDF

UT Chancellor Mandates Unprecedented Shared Governance Structure at MD Anderson

 

After years of turmoil and plunging morale at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the UT System took what observers describe as an unprecedented step—forming a Shared Governance Committee.

The new structure, instituted Sept. 1, disbands the once powerful Executive Committee, thereby changing the cancer center’s top-down power structure.

The new governance committee is designed to incorporate input from the faculty, and serve as the top advisory body to the institution’s president, Ronald DePinho.

 

Editorial

Judge: Amgen Can’t Depose Cancer Letter Reporter (Me)

A federal judge ruled that Amgen Inc. cannot force me to answer questions related to a 2007 story that sparked a class action suit by investors and triggered a change in FDA regulations of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents.

Judge Amit Mehta, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, quashed a subpoena filed by Amgen that sought information related to my reporting of a story about a critically important clinical trial showing that patients who received Aranesp did worse than patients who did not.

NCI-MATCH Trial Opens

ECOG-ACRIN opened the NCI-MATCH precision medicine trial, the largest, most scientifically rigorous precision medicine trial in cancer to date.

NCI-MATCH seeks to determine whether matching certain drugs or drug combinations to people whose tumors have specific gene abnormalities will effectively treat their cancer, regardless of their cancer type.

ASCO Updates Policy on Genetics and Genomic Testing

The American Society of Clinical Oncology issued an updated policy statement on genetic and genomic testing for cancer susceptibility.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the statement reviews the ways in which new technologies are transforming the assessment and identification of inherited cancer susceptibility, and makes a series of recommendations for the optimal deployment of these technologies in oncology practice.

Obituary

UNMC’s Sidney Mirvish, 86

Cancer researcher Sidney Mirvish died at age 86. His research into nitrosamines and carcinogenesis led to changes in the way lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages were made.

Mirvish served as professor emeritus in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he was faculty member for 46 years. Mirvish died due to complications following emergency surgery on Aug. 18.

In Brief

  • Edith Mitchell named president of National Medical Association

  • Robert DiPaola, Stephen Gruber, and Candace Johnson named to AACI Board of Directors
  • NIH Director Francis Collins awarded Leadership in Personalized Medicine Award

  • Massimo Cristofanilli named associate director for precision medicine at Northwestern University Lurie Cancer Center
  • Jeffrey and W. Kimryn Rathmell appointed to leadership roles at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

  • Lois Travis named director of survivorship research program at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center

  • Rachel Humphrey named chief medical officer of CytomX

  • Donald Sheldon appointed regional president at University Hospitals

  • Keith Perry named chief information officer at St. Jude

  • Northwestern Medicine names breast cancer OncoSET program

  • CPRIT awards seven grants, totaling $23 million

Drugs and Targets

  • FDA approves Varubi for CINV

  • European Commission grants authorization to Unituxin for pediatric neuroblastoma
  • FDA grants Orphan Designation to Toca 511 and Toca FC

  • FDA grants Orphan Designation to MTG-20
  • FDA grants Priority Review to MCNA

20150814 - Aug 14, 2015
SPECIAL REPORT – AUG. 14, 2015 

 

MD Anderson Moves from Top-Down Structure

to “Shared Governance” with Faculty Senate

 

MD Anderson Cancer Center was instructed to institute a “shared governance” structure, disbanding its powerful Executive Committee effective Sept. 1.

After years of turmoil and plunging morale, the UT System has instructed the Houston-based cancer center to form a Shared Governance Committee, which would incorporate input from the faculty. The move appears to change the institution’s structure from a strong top-down flow of authority to an unusually democratic system.

The new governance committee will serve as the top advisory body to the institution’s president, Ronald DePinho, and will include all division heads; the chair, chair-elect, and immediate past chair of the Faculty Senate; and senior executives.

The decision was announced Aug. 14, in a faculty-wide email from DePinho and Gary Whitman, chair of the Faculty Senate.

20150807 - Aug 7, 2015
ISSUE 31 – AUG. 7, 2015PDF

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

AstraZeneca Exec Discusses Iressa’s Future in the U.S.

 

After a decade of near-absence from the U.S. market, the AstraZeneca drug Iressa (gefitinib) is back.

The drug, which stayed on the market between 2003 and 2005, when it was pulled because clinical trials in a general population of patients failed to demonstrate a survival advantage, has returned. Now it is accompanied by a diagnostic tests that selects patients.

The Cancer Letter asked Andrew Coop, vice president of US medical affairs in oncology at AstraZeneca, to discuss the company’s plans for the future of Iressa in the US, and lessons that have been learned.

 

Report: Part D Drug Prices “Needlessly High”

Medicare’s Part D program paid significantly higher prices for drugs than either Medicaid or the Veterans Health Administration, a study by Carleton University and Public Citizen found.

Prices paid by Medicare Part D were also above those in 30 other countries.

The price is caused by congressional restrictions on the federal government’s ability to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry, the study said.

Obituary

Carolyn Kaelin, 54, Dana-Farber Surgical Oncologist and Researcher

Carolyn Mary Kaelin, a surgical oncologist in the Women’s Cancers Program at Dana-Farber and director of the Breast Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, died July 28, surrounded by loved ones. Kaelin was 54.

FDA News

In Brief

  • Lehigh Valley Health Network joins MSK Cancer Alliance

  • Siteman Cancer Center receives “exceptional” rating from NCI
  • John Cunningham named chairman of pediatrics department at the University of Chicago

  • Jinhgui Zhang named first chair of Department of Computational Biology at St. Jude
  • Stephen Lessnick named director of childhood cancer center at Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

  • GI Chair Lopa Mishra to leave MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society receives donation from Bristol Myers Squibb

  • Commission on Cancer names Outstanding Achievement Award winners

  • California Dept. of Public Health launches big data collaboration with St. Joseph’s Health

  • Pan-Mass Challenge raises $33.5 million over weekend bike ride for Dana-Farber

 Drugs and Targets

  • Health Canada approves Imbruvica in MCL

  • EMA grants orphan designation to synthetic hypericin
  • AstraZeneca and Heptares Therapeutics enter licensing agreement

  • Mirati Therapeutics and MedImmune launch clinical trial collaboration
 

The Cancer Letter will be taking a short publication break, and will return Friday, Sept. 4.