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The AACI is dedicated to promoting the common interests of the nation’s leading academic cancer centers that are focused on the eradication of cancer through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary program of cancer research, treatment, patient care, prevention, education, and community outreach.
AACI Update is an e-newsletter for the cancer center directors and key contacts at AACI member institutions and individuals interested in the cancer center-related activities of AACI. AACI Update reports on the progress of AACI initiatives and other AACI endeavors that benefit the cancer community and highlights important news and events at AACI member institutions.
AACI encourages member institutions to submit cancer center highlights to AACI Update. News briefs are linked to complete stories posted on individual cancer center websites. Please e-mail materials to AACI reserves the right to decide whether or not materials are appropriate for inclusion.

Update, please send an e-mail to with your name, title, address, telephone and fax numbers asking to be added to the AACI’s distribution list.

Mailing address:
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Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research is AACI’s Newest Member; Director is AACR President-elect
AACI is pleased to welcome the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as AACI’s newest member. The Koch Institute grew out of the MIT Center for Cancer Research, which was founded in 1974 by Nobel laureate and MIT Professor Salvador Luria. It is one of eight National Cancer Institute-designated basic research centers in the United States.

Directed by Dr. Tyler Jacks, the Koch Institute is both a physical entity and an organizing body for MIT’s cancer research community at large. Additionally, Dr. Jacks was named president-elect of AACR effective April 14, during the Association’s annual meeting. He has served in several leadership positions for AACR, including the board of directors and the nominating committee. more...
2008 AACI Annual Meeting/CCAF Fall Meeting
The 2008 AACI Annual Meeting/CCAF Fall Meeting will be held at the Fairmont Chicago, October 5–7. The meeting will bring leaders of AACI cancer centers—center directors and executive-level administrators—together with leaders of national cancer research and advocacy organizations, industry, and government health agencies to share best practices and devise solutions to common challenges. At the meeting, AACI will present its 2008 AACI Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Joseph V. Simone, Director Emeritus, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah and President, Simone Consulting. This award will be presented to Dr. Simone in recognition of his outstanding career in leadership at the nation’s cancer centers, as well as for his continuing activities in support of emerging and established centers. more...
Torti to Become First Chief Scientist to the FDA
Dr. Frank M. Torti, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, has been appointed principal deputy commissioner and first chief scientist to the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Torti, who will begin his duties at FDA this month, also serves as the Charles L. Spurr Professor of Medicine and chair of the department of cancer biology at Wake Forest.

Dr. A. Julian Garvin has been named interim director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and Dr. Steven A. Akman has been named interim chair of cancer biology. more...
Legislative Update
Included in this Legislative Update:
  • The status of fiscal year 2009 federal budget appropriations in the U.S. House and Senate;
  • A genetic nondiscrimination bill intended to prohibit health insurance and employment discrimination based on genetic information, and;
  • A comprehensive cancer care improvement act that would provide Medicare reimbursement for the development of cancer care planning services for patient treatment, symptom management, and follow-up care.
AACI, AACR Host Center Directors’ Reception
On April 14, AACI and AACR welcomed the directors of the nation’s cancer centers at a reception in their honor, held during the AACR annual meeting in San Diego.

The reception provided an opportunity for AACI and AACR to acknowledge the accomplishments of the distinguished leaders, and to honor them for their important contributions to the national cancer program. more...
News from the Centers
AACI past president receives UNC’s Thomas Jefferson Award
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. H. Shelton Earp, AACI immediate past president and director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been honored by his peers with the 2008 Thomas Jefferson Award. The annual Thomas Jefferson Award recognizes a UNC faculty member who, through personal influence and performance of duty in teaching, writing, and scholarship, has best exemplified the ideals and objectives of Thomas Jefferson. UNC faculty members nominate candidates for the honor, which carries a cash prize; a faculty committee chooses the recipient. more...
University of Minnesota receives $65 million for cancer research
Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
In recognition of a record-breaking gift, the University of Minnesota Cancer Center will now be called the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota’s largest-ever gift—$65 million from Minnesota Masonic Charities—will be dedicated to support of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center. The $65 million over 15 years will allow the Masonic Cancer Center to expand its work, including bringing more world-class research to clinical practice for improved cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Researchers will also be able to expand studies of cancer survivorship to better understand and address care for people living with cancer. more...
Roswell Park appoints vice president of corporate ethics
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Camille P. Wicher has been appointed vice president of corporate ethics and research subject protection at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Ms. Wicher joined RPCI in 1997 as counsel for risk management and corporate compliance and was named assistant vice president for research subject protection and scientific integrity in 2002. With her new responsibilities, Ms. Wicher will lead the corporate ethics department and act as an advisor to scientists, clinicians, and the administration regarding ethical practices and scientific integrity within all facets of the institute. She will offer advice and counsel on issues related to patient advocacy, corporate compliance, risk management, human resources, and business practices. more...
Pretty Is What Changes author Jessica Queller to speak at FORCE Conference May 16-17
Moffitt Cancer Center
Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida will hold their 3rd annual conference devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer May 16-17 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa. This meeting will represent the largest gathering of people with the BRCA “breast cancer gene” mutation or other risk factors for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. More than 350 people are expected to attend. The conference will be a gathering of experts, dedicated researchers and health care providers, cancer survivors and high-risk people with a common interest of hereditary cancer. Highlights from the conference will include keynote speaker Jessica Queller, pre-vivor™ and author of the newly released book Pretty Is What Changes. more...
Hiebert named to senior leadership post at Vanderbilt-Ingram
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Dr. Scott Hiebert has been named associate director for basic science programs for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. With this appointment, Dr. Hiebert, professor of biochemistry and leader of the signal transduction and cellular proliferation program, moves into senior leadership with Vanderbilt-Ingram. He succeeds Dr. Jennifer Pietenpol, Byrd professor of Oncology, who was recently named director of the cancer center. Dr. Hiebert will help oversee the cancer center’s research program which includes over 300 faculty members and more than $140 million in research funding from public and private sources. more...
Sylvester’s Well Being / Being Well conference
University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
UM/Sylvester’s inaugural Well Being/Being Well conference assembled nearly 600 participants to become more proactive in their own health care. The event was part of UM/Sylvester’ continuous commitment to provide the community with the resources and tools to lead a healthier life. The April 22 conference brought together some of the best and brightest minds in academic medicine, including University of Miami faculty dedicated to advancing scientific discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic and the community. Nutritionists, nurses, and health educators imparted advice and expertise, and survivors shared perspective and wisdom. The event celebrated health and wellness, and featured keynote presentations by mind-body expert Deepak Chopra, as well as University of Miami President, and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala. more...
Roswell Park’s Dr. Norma Nowak receives AACR Team Science Award
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Dr. Norma J. Nowak, a nationally recognized leader in genomic technology and cancer genetics research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, joined colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Center and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in accepting the AACR Team Science Award at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, CA. The AACR Team Science Award “recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary research team for its innovative and meritorious science that has advanced or likely will advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer or a team that has applied existing knowledge to advance the detection, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of cancer.” Dr. Nowak’s team was cited for developing comparative genomic hybridization and array CGH, for nurturing their evolution over the past 15 years into a widely used approach to genetic analysis, and for pioneering their biological application. These technologies identify numerical differences in DNA between tumor and normal cells and cells from individual inherited disorders. more...
Moffitt Cancer Center recognizes National Minority Cancer Awareness Week
Moffitt Cancer Center
While many Americans are healthier than ever before, minorities and the poor are more likely to get cancer and die from the disease. “The main reason for the disparities includes lack of insurance coverage, access to care and quality of care, low socioeconomic status, poor health behaviors, and racism and discrimination," said Dr. B. Lee Green, health researcher and vice president of the Office of Institutional Diversity at Moffitt. Moffitt Cancer Center is focusing on the crisis of health disparities during National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, April 20–26. Moffitt held a series of events during NMCAW that focused on cancer prevention, early detection, and screening for high risk communities. The week-long activities concluded on April 26 with a health and education forum in the Stabile Research Building at Moffitt. Moffitt and its office of institutional diversity are working diligently to grow their health disparities research projects, improve access to cancer care, and increase cancer awareness and prevention education opportunities for minorities. more...
Dr. Neal Flomenberg named chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson
Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University
Bone marrow transplant expert Dr. Neal Flomenberg has been named the new chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson in Philadelphia. Dr. Flomenberg, who is also Clinical Deputy Director at the Kimmel Cancer Center and professor of Medical Oncology and Microbiology and Immunology at Jefferson Medical College, has been interim chair since 2006. Dr. Flomenberg’s research interests center on ways to make allogeneic transplants safer. In addition, he is also working to try to prevent deadly graft-versus-host-disease and hopes to find ways to increase immune system recovery after allogeneic transplant. more...
Nevada Cancer Institute receives Continuing Medical Education accreditation
Nevada Cancer Institute
Nevada Cancer Institute has been granted provisional Continuing Medical Education accreditation for two years by the Nevada State Medical Association. CME accreditation allows physicians to maintain knowledge of new developments in all medical fields and earn CME credits toward state requirement for physicians. In addition, most member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties, such as the American Board of Internal Medicine, have CME requirements for physician recertification. NVCI’s CME activities are open to physicians throughout the healthcare community. NVCI is 1 of only 10 Nevada State Medical Association accredited providers in Nevada. Since March 2007, the Institute has been jointly sponsoring CME activities with the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno. Acquiring individual accreditation allows NVCI to provide CME credits and offer many more activities. more...
David Geller chosen as president-elect, Society of University Surgeons
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Dr. David Geller, the Richard L. Simmons professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Liver Cancer Center, has been chosen president-elect of the Society of University Surgeons. As a hepatobiliary surgical oncologist, Dr. Geller’s clinical interests center on the evaluation and management of patients with liver cancers. He has pioneered minimally invasive liver resection surgery and specializes in laparoscopic radiofrequency ablations of liver tumors. Dr. Geller’s 1-year term begins February 2009. His duties will include overseeing the SUS executive council and committees for the growth of educational and political agendas, directing meetings and retreats, developing long-range strategic planning for the organization’s growth, and delivering the presidential address in 2010. more...
Roswell Park opens oncology-specific clinical research center
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Roswell Park Cancer Institute has officially opened its $2.6-million Clinical Research Center, dedicating the facility to the development of new cancer therapies while providing more treatment options for patients through clinical trials. The Center is one of only a few clinical research centers in the U.S. to focus exclusively on cancer, and will provide the foundation for the Institute’s expanding phase-I and drug-development clinical research. Housed on the 7th floor of the Roswell Park hospital, the Clinical Research Center was built with a $2-million dollar gift from an anonymous benefactor, as well as additional funds provided by RPCI. The gift will support capital and operational expenses for the Center’s first two years. Once fully operational, it is estimated that approximately 50-percent of the expense to run the Center will be recouped from grants and contracts. more...
Ohio State doctor co-edits handbook on brain tumors
Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
The latest techniques and information in the field of neuro-oncology can now be found in a single handbook, co-edited by a specialist in brain tumors at The Ohio State University. Dr. Herbert A. Newton of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at Ohio State worked with Dr. Ferenc A. Jolesz of Harvard Medical School to create the Handbook of Neuro-Oncology Neuro-Imaging. The book, divided into five sections, features different diagnoses and describes state-of-the-art techniques in neuro-imaging of brain tumors. It also correlates clinical and pathological findings with imaging information and emphasizes the role of various imaging techniques. Dr. Newton hopes that the handbook will be a resource for all those interested in neuro-oncology, especially those involved in treating brain tumor patients, neuro-imaging researchers and scientists with an interest in brain tumors. more...
Pittsburgh researchers receive funding for gastrointestinal cancer research
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
For the third year in a row, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers have received funding from the GIST Cancer Institute, a patient driven organization that funds research on gastrointestinal stromal tumors. The $135,000 award supports the research of Dr. Anette Duensing, research assistant professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. According to Dr. Duensing, GIST research in her laboratory aims to better understand the biology of GIST responses to the drug Gleevec, as well as the mechanisms underlying drug resistance. These studies provide the framework for the development of more effective treatment options for GIST patients. To improve the efficacy of Gleevec, Dr. Duensing’s lab is examining how cells respond to the treatment. She has identified a novel protein that appears to influence tumor cell response to Gleevec and is manipulating levels of this protein in GIST cells in an attempt to destroy tumor cells faster and more effectively. more...
Lawrence Marks appointed chair of radiation oncology at UNC School of Medicine
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Lawrence Marks has been appointed chair of the department of radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, effective March 31. He succeeds Dr. Carolyn I. Sartor, professor of radiation oncology. Regarded as one of the country’s top breast cancer specialists, Marks comes to UNC from Duke University, where he had been a member of the radiation oncology faculty since 1989. Dr. Marks’ clinical and research interests include three-dimensional and conformal radiation treatment planning, breast cancer and lung cancer. “Larry Marks is a nationally renowned radiation oncologist who brings to UNC strong research accomplishments, with particular interests in clinical trials in breast and lung cancer, as well as in enhancing our understanding of the mechanisms behind radiation-related lung injury,” said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and chief executive officer of UNC Health Care. more...
Space radiation may cause prolonged cellular damage to astronauts
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
With major implications for long-duration space travel, a study from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center demonstrates that the high-energy radiation found in space may lead to premature aging and prolonged oxidative stress in cells. The findings suggest that astronauts may be at increased risk of colon cancer due to exposure to the high-linear-energy transfer radiation found in space. “Radiation exposure, either intentional or accidental, is inevitable during our lifetimes,” says Dr. Kamal Datta, assistant professor at Lombardi and the study’s lead author. “But with plans for a mission to Mars, we need to understand more about the nature of radiation in space. There is currently no conclusive information for estimating the risk that astronauts may experience.” Current risk estimates for radiation exposure rely exclusively on the cumulative dose a person receives in his or her lifetime. The Lombardi study suggests that a more accurate risk assessment should include not only dose, but also the quality of radiation. more...
Georgetown student takes first place in poster competition at AACR
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Zachary Dobbin, a Georgetown University undergraduate student conducting cancer research at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, took first place in the 2008 AACR Undergraduate Poster Competition at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in San Diego. Dobbin conducts research in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Clarke. He was one of only 10 undergraduate students to be awarded the AACR-Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Awards in 2007 for Undergraduate Students. Dobbin has been studying the effect of chemotheraputic agents on one protein found in breast cancer cells. His winning AACR poster, titled, “Caveolin-1 regulation of Bcl-2 in paclitaxel-mediated apoptosis in breast cancer,” explores the relationship between CAV1 and Bcl-2, a protein that appears to have a role in preventing the formation of cancer. more...
Jefferson’s Lisanti named Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Pathology
Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University
Renowned cell biologist Dr. Michael P. Lisanti, the Margaret Q. Landenberger Professor in Breast Cancer Research at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson in Philadelphia, has been named Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Pathology, beginning in July. Dr. Lisanti, who serves as director of the newly established Jefferson Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Center, is also professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Lisanti is an expert in the field of caveolae and caveolin proteins. These proteins, which play important roles in cell communication, are also involved in the development of a number of diseases and conditions, such as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and muscular dystrophy. more...
USC establishes epigenome center
USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
One of the first of its kind in the nation, the USC Epigenome Center officially opened its doors on April 11 with an inaugural symposium featuring national leaders in the burgeoning field of epigenetic research. Approximately 100 students and scientists from USC and other research institutions attended the half-day conference hosted by USC Epigenome Center Director Peter Laird. The roster of speakers included leading researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology, and UCLA, among others. Housed in the ground floor of the Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower on USC’s Health Sciences Campus, the USC Epigenome Center is the first large-scale academic center dedicated to epigenomic research. more...
Lombardi publishes manual for childhood cancer survivors
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
At the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and Georgetown University Hospital, a team of oncologists, nurses, social workers, and an art therapist have created the first survivorship manual tailored to children treated for cancer. The Next Step… Crossing the Bridge to Survivorship is an educational guide designed to provide specific information related to long-term follow-up and survivorship. The manual is customized for each patient to include information about his or her cancer diagnosis and specific treatment. It combines the personal health record with an educational guide about long-term effects. Also, the manual promotes a "shared care" model, incorporating primary care providers as an integral part of a survivor’s care. The manual is published by well-known childhood cancer specialist Aziza Shad and Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. more...
Stem cell researcher named director of Wells Center for Pediatric Research
Indiana University Simon Cancer Center
A national leader in adult stem cell research, Dr. Mervin C. Yoder, has been appointed to lead the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children. Dr. Yoder is the Richard and Pauline Klingler Professor of Pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Dr. Yoder said he intends to build on the research strengths of the Wells Center and to introduce several new programs in translational medicine, neurodevelopment and molecular medicine. He also intends to work closely with Riley Children’s Foundation to build an endowment for pediatric research at the Wells Center. more...
Kraus will join NVCI as Vice President of Cancer Informatics/Chief Information Officer
Nevada Cancer Institute
Nevada Cancer Institute is pleased to announce that Gene Kraus will join NVCI in the position of vice president of cancer informatics and chief information officer on April 28. Kraus has an extensive background in information technology with 18 years of management experience in healthcare, academic, clinical research and corporate environments. For the past four years, he has served as director of cancer center informatics at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Kraus brings knowledge in all areas of information technology, including operating systems, clinical trials management systems, clinical and research data systems, and data center operations. He also served as senior manager of corporate information technology at Pfizer Global Research and Development, has a faculty appointment at Wayne State University School of Medicine and has co-authored an extensive list of peer-reviewed publications. more...
Rallying cyclists for cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center
The first annual Cure on Wheels, a ride of 165 miles along the scenic roadways of Pasco and Hernando counties, will take place on the weekend of May 30. Cure on Wheels, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, organized the event with proceeds going to research at Moffitt Cancer Center. “More has been done in the last 20 years to overcome cancer than in the last 20 centuries,” said Bill Riddle, Cure on Wheels president and executive director. “More and more patients are being saved. But only research can speed up the process and find the final answers,” he said. The event takes off May 30; on Saturday, one-day riders cycle either a 65- or 105-mile course. Two-day riders cycle an additional 60-mile loop on Sunday. more...
New breast surgeons join Moffitt
Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center welcomed Drs. Catherine Lee and Nazanin Khakpour to the Don and Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program. Dr. Lee joins Moffitt as a breast surgeon in the comprehensive breast program. She comes from the University of Michigan Medical Center, where she completed her research and clinical surgical breast oncology fellowship. Dr. Khakpour comes to Moffitt from the Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, where she was the director of breast surgery, director of the breast-multidisciplinary cancer program, and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Khakpour has been extensively involved in breast cancer clinical and basic science research to provide patients with cutting-edge cancer therapies and efforts to improve the understanding of breast cancer treatments. more...