20140530 - May 30, 2014
ISSUE 22 – MAY 30, 2014PDF


DePinho Explains Tenure Decision,
Professors Dispute Key Details

Confronted with the prospect of censure by an academic freedom group, Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center, is defending his decision to deny tenure renewal to two faculty members.

Responding to an inquiry by the American Association of University Professors, DePinho said that his critics are incorrect in asserting that his administration gave no formal explanation for denying tenure renewal to two faculty members.

photoDePinho’s Letter to the AAUP

Responding to an inquiry by the American Association of University Professors, MD Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald DePinho said his critics are incorrect in asserting that his administration gave no formal explanation for denying tenure renewal to two faculty members.

photoBoyd’s Rebuttal

Douglas Boyd, a professor at MD Anderson, sent his own letter to the American Association of University Professors, responding to DePinho’s version of events.

Boyd is chair of MD Anderson’s Faculty Senate Promotion & Tenure Issues Committee.

photoMoffitt, Ohio State Form Network,
Invite Major Cancer Centers to Join

Moffitt Cancer Center and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute earlier this week announced that they are constructing a bioinformatics framework that would enable a multi-center collaboration.

photo
ASCO 2014 Annual Meeting: The Special Awards

 

photoFunding Opportunity
DoD Offering $10.5 Million for Lung Cancer Research

The Department of Defense Lung Cancer Research Program will provide $10.5 million to support innovative, high-impact lung cancer research during fiscal 2014.

photoIn Brief

  • Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium names Susan Goodin exec. officer

  • ASCO launches online resource center for the Affordable Care Act

  • James Graham Brown Cancer Center receives $5.5 million grant

  • MD Anderson signs consulting agreement with Concord Medical Services Holdings for hospital projects in Beijing and Shanghai

  • Mayo Clinic signs agreement with N-of-One for molecular diagnostics

  • CDC is recruiting for director of the Division of Cancer Prevention

photoDrug Approvals

  • FDA approves Vectibix in mCRC with KRAS companion diagnostic

  • European CHMP issues positive opinions for Arzerra in CLL and Halaven in metastatic breast cancer

20140516 - May 16, 2014
ISSUE 20 – MAY 16, 2014PDF


Over $20 Million Carved Out
From Statistical, Operations Centers

The budgets of operations and statistical centers of adult clinical trials groups were cut by about $20.4 million, group chairs say.

The cuts make it difficult for the groups to continue to support ongoing trials and raise questions about the prospects for starting a new generation of trials. 

NCI officials say that, overall, the budget for the groups is staying flat, in part because some of the money is being channeled into 30 sites that received the Lead Academic Participating Site designation. 

LAPS, which are run by cancer centers, will be allowed to charge more for putting patients on studies. 

So where are the cuts? 

photoNo Justification Provided
AAUP Demands Reinstatement of Faculty Denied Tenure Renewal at MD Anderson

The American Association of University Professors sent a letter to Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center, urging the reinstatement of two faculty members who were denied tenure renewal without stated reasons.

The letter is a part of AAUP’s response to a request for an investigation, which was triggered by the administration’s refusal to provide justification for denying tenure renewals to faculty who received unanimous votes for renewal from the Faculty Senate Promotions & Tenure Committee. 

photoReport: Rising Treatment Costs Due to 340B Discounts

The 340B drug discount program is causing a rise in the costs of treating cancer patients, according to a new report.

Published by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, the report, “Innovations in Cancer Care and Implications for Health Systems,” showed that marketplace behaviors, triggered by a lack of eligibility integrity, are a major reason for increasing costs of cancer care, said the Alliance for Integrity and Reform of 340B in a statement.

photoTGen and George Mason Form Precision Medicine Alliance

The Translational Genomics Research Institute and George Mason University announced a strategic research alliance May 6.
Called the TGen-George Mason Molecular Medicine Alliance, the effort is designed to recommend medications and treatments to clinicians based on each patient’s molecular profile.

photoIn Brief

  • Oncology Nursing Society names board of directors

  • American College of Radiology names new officers

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celldex Therapeutics Inc. enter agreement

  • Moffitt Cancer Center collaborates with Vermillion Inc.

  • Children’s Oncology Drug Alliance helps form international collaborative

20140509 - May 9, 2014
ISSUE 19 – MAY 9, 2014PDF

Oregon Center Launching $1 Billion Program To Identify Lethal Cancers Before They Kill

Brian Druker has some awesome jobs to fill.

As many as 30 scientists and their teams will get to focus on cancer research without having to worry about applying for grants.

“It’s about bringing 20 to 30 people together, giving them sufficient funding—almost like [Howard Hughes Medical Institute] level funding,” Druker said to The Cancer Letter. “If you have 20 to 30 people who are focused on science, working as a team to solve a problem, judged on progress toward the goal, as opposed to how many grants and publications do you have, we think we can make a more rapid contribution in this area.

photoCMS Advisors Express Low Confidence In Low-Dose CT Screening for Lung Cancer

An advisory panel for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expressed low confidence in low-dose computed tomography as a method for screening for lung cancer in the Medicare population.

Evidence is inadequate to ensure that benefits of the procedure would outweigh harms, the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee said at the hearing April 30.

photoBach: LCA Center Certification Untrustworthy; CISNET Models Don’t Match

When it appeared that CT screening for lung cancer was a shoo-in for Medicare coverage, the Lung Cancer Alliance, an advocacy group, started to certify “screening centers of excellence.”

Centers all over the country received this designation from LCA and were listed on the group’s website.

However, as he prepared for a recent Medicare advisory committee meeting, Peter Bach, a pulmonologist and health systems researcher at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, checked the list of LCA-certified centers.

photoSteven Woolf: Why CMS Should Not Cover LDCT

National coverage for low-dose computed tomography may result in more harm than benefit to the Medicare population at this time, said Steven Woolf, a member of the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee.

Speaking at the April 30 MEDCAC hearing, Woolf said coverage would run into many implementation challenges and adherence problems—it would be unlikely that all practices would observe the strict criteria set by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the National Lung Screening Trial, he said.

photoGrowth of the Cost of Drugs Slows to 5.4 Percent per Year; 21 Therapies Launched in 2 Years

The growth of global spending on oncology medicines has slowed over the past five years, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Spending on cancer drugs, including those used for supportive care, increased at a compound annual growth rate of 5.4 percent during the past five years, reaching $91 billion in 2013, compared with 14.2 percent from 2003 to 2008. 

photoWomen’s Health Initiative Trial Produced $37.1 Billion in Returns

The overall economic return from the Women’s Health Initiative estrogen plus progestin trial indicates that the changes in practice it produced provided a net economic return of $37.1 billion over 10 years.

photoFDA Oncology Unit Fastest in Approvals Despite Having Highest Workload

A study by a conservative think tank found large differences in performance of the FDA divisions, with oncology demonstrating the agency’s fastest time from application submission to approval.

Paradoxically, the Manhattan Institute found that the oncology division’s staff members had the agency’s highest workload—measured in INDs per staff member at the division.

photoIn Brief

  • David Cole named president of The Medical University of South Carolina

  • Peter Bach’s account of his wife’s death from breast cancer

  • MD Anderson honors 16 junior faculty members

  • US Oncology and Community Oncology Alliance speak to Congress

  • Athena Breast Health Network adopts ASCO’s HL7 Guide for EMRs

  • Eli Lilly & Co. sign agreement with Prasco Laboratories

  • Johns Hopkins receives $10 million from Under Armour 

  • Melanoma Research Alliance and L’Oreal Paris begin campaign

  • Kristin Darby named chief information officer of Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Drug Approvals

  • Zykadia granted accelerated approval for ALK+ NSCLC

  • ADXS-HPV grated orphan drug designation