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News from the Association of American Cancer InstitutesMay 2016
The Association is dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer by enhancing the impact of the nation's leading academic cancer centers.
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.

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Castor and Fleischmann to be Honored at AACI/AACR/ASCO Hill Day
The 2016 Hill Day will take place on Thursday, May 12. AACI will again co-host the event with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

At a reception on Wednesday, May 11, Representatives Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) will be recognized for their outstanding leadership on behalf of cancer research. Both members of Congress have been outspoken supporters of the NIH and NCI in general, and of cancer centers, in particular. Both representatives intend to accept their awards in person at the Hill Day reception. The reception is scheduled for 6:00-7:30 pm in Room B-354 of the Rayburn House Office Building. more...

Keynote Speaker Named for CRI Annual Meeting; Registration Ongoing
Registration is ongoing for the 8th Annual AACI Clinical Research Initiative Meeting. The meeting will be held July 20-21, in Chicago, IL, at the Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel. Register now!

This year’s keynote speaker will be Keith Eaton, MD, PhD. Dr. Eaton is an Associate Member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. Eaton is also part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and serves as Medical Director of the Infusion and Pharmacy Services and the Clinical Director, Thoracic/Head and Neck Oncology. In his talk entitled "When the Physician Becomes the Patient", Dr. Eaton will share what it is like to get cancer and his experience with participating in a clinical trial as a patient and working with trials as a treating physician. more...

Pazdur to Deliver Keynote at AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting
Richard Pazdur, MD, Director, Office of Hematology Oncology Products, Food and Drug Administration, will be the opening keynote speaker for the 2016 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting, October 23-25, in Chicago. Dr. Pazdur's talk will focus on the current state of drug development in the era of precision medicine and immuno-oncology, as viewed from his unique perspective as both a regulator and an advocate.

Online registration continues for the meeting, and the regular registration rate will remain in effect through September 22. Information on the meeting, including the program and electronic registration is available on the AACI website. more...

Blue Ribbon Cancer Panel Includes Four AACI Cancer Center Directors
The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) congratulates the new members of a Blue Ribbon Panel, announced by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which will inform the scientific direction and goals at NCI of Vice President Joe Biden's National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

The panel, comprised of scientific experts, cancer leaders, and patient advocates, includes four AACI cancer center directors: Mary Beckerle, PhD, CEO and Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City; Chi Van Dang, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Director, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Augusto Ochoa, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Director, Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center Louisiana State University, New Orleans; and, Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Professor of Oncology, Professor of Biochemistry, and Director, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, Tennessee. more...

News from the Centers
Awards & Honors
Gilliland Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center President and Director Gary Gilliland, MD, PhD, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, an honorary society that traces its roots back to the days of Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and John Adams. Dr. Gilliland, an expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine, took the helm of Fred Hutch in January 2015. more...
Researcher Named AACR's Margaret Foti Award Recipient
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Waun Ki Hong, MD, professor of Thoracic Head & Neck Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been selected as recipient of this year's Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The award was presented April 17 at the AACR's annual meeting in New Orleans. more...
Researchers Win National Award for Identifying Brain Tumor Intervention
UF Health Cancer Center
A study identifying a possible new intervention to treat the deadliest of brain tumors garnered a national award for University of Florida Health brain cancer researcher Duane Mitchell, MD, PhD, and his research team, who were honored for an outstanding accomplishment in clinical research. The Clinical Research Forum, a consortium of top academic health centers, pharmaceutical companies and information technology companies, tapped Dr. Mitchell’s work for a Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award for 2015. The group holds an annual competition to recognize major advances stemming from the nation's investment in translational research. more...
Treatment-Resistant Melanoma Research Among AACR's Most-Cited
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA
Research into a promising new class of drugs called BRAF inhibitors led by UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center member Roger Lo, MD, PhD, has been selected by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for inclusion in "The Best of AACR Journals 2014," the organization's annual review highlighting its journals' most highly cited and influential studies of the year. more...
Fisher, Chernoff Elected to Historic Interurban Clinical Club
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health
Richard I. Fisher, MD, President and CEO, and Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer - both from Fox Chase Cancer Center - have been elected to the Interurban Clinical Club. The club was founded in 1905 by William Osler. more...
Esserman Named to TIME 100 List of Most Influential People in the World
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Time magazine has named internationally renowned breast cancer oncologist Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, to the 2016 TIME 100, the magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Dr. Esserman, now a professor of Surgery and Radiology at UCSF and a faculty member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been at the forefront of efforts to change the delivery of breast cancer services as well as information systems used to support both research and patient care. more...
Jadwin Recognized by Nursing Honor Society
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health
Anne Jadwin, MSN, RN, AOCN, NE-BC, Vice President of Nursing Services/Chief Nursing Officer at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has been awarded the 2016 Outstanding Nurse Award from the Delta Tau Chapter-at-Large: Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. more...
Grants & Gifts

Ohio State Receives Top NCI Rating, Re-Designated as Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center has again been ranked as "exceptional" and renewed as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest honor bestowed to a cancer program in the United States. The institution will receive a five-year renewal with an estimated $25 million Cancer Center Support Grant from the NCI. more...

Researcher to Turn Plant Virus Shells Against Human Cancers
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University researcher Nicole Steinmetz, PhD, has been awarded more than $3 million in federal and foundation grants to turn common plant viruses into cancer sleuths and search-and-destroy emissaries. The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the American Cancer Society are providing the funding. more...
Rosen Awarded NCI Grant for Potential Drug to Treat AML
City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
A City of Hope research team led by Steven T. Rosen, MD, City of Hope's provost and chief scientific officer, has been awarded a $2.3 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Cancer Institute to fund studies associated with a phase I/II clinical trial in relapsed/refractory adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML). more...
Leadership Transitions
Davidson Inaugurated as AACR President
American Association for Cancer Research
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) welcomes Nancy E. Davidson, MD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, as president of the organization for 2016-2017. She was inaugurated during the Annual Business Meeting, held during the AACR Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans. Dr. Davidson is a world-renowned breast cancer researcher whose work focuses on clinical and translational breast cancer research and cancer biology and treatment. more...
Eberlein Elected NCCN Chairman
Siteman Cancer Center
Timothy J. Eberlein, MD, director of Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been elected chairman of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) board of directors. The NCCN is a not-for-profit alliance of 27 leading U.S. cancer centers devoted to patient care, research and education. Siteman is the only NCCN member institution in Missouri. more...
Fred Hutch Names New Chief Operating Officer
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
After a nationwide search, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has named as its new executive vice president and chief operating officer Steve Stadum, a lawyer by training and a Portland, Oregon native with a track record of accomplishment at Oregon Health & Science University. more...
Sosman Named Co-Leader of Translational Research in Solid Tumors
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Jeffrey Sosman, MD, an oncologist and internationally recognized melanoma expert and researcher, has joined the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University as Co-Leader of the Translational Research in Solid Tumors (TRIST) Program and Director of the Melanoma Program. He will also serve as Director for Faculty Development at the Lurie Cancer Center. more...
Pietenpol Named Executive Vice President for Research
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has been named Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her appointment is effective May 1. Dr. Pietenpol will assume this new role while continuing to serve as the Cancer Center's director. more...
Immunologist to Head New Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
UC San Francisco immunologist Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, has been named president and CEO of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, a national initiative launched with a $250 million grant from The Parker Foundation, a private philanthropic organization established by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker. Dr. Bluestone, who was named this month to a Blue Ribbon Panel that will help to guide Vice President Joe Biden's National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, will continue to oversee an active research program at the University. The Parker Institute includes six centers - UCSF, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford Medicine, UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. more...
Intel Executive to Head Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health has tapped Intel Executive Eric Dishman to head the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. The Cohort Program is designed to develop a voluntary national research cohort of a million or more volunteers to propel the understanding of health and disease, and Dishman has served as a member of the PMI Working Group that is developing the cohort. more...
Program Co-Leader Hired for Prevention and Control
University of Colorado Cancer Center
Cancer research and education programs in the state of Colorado will take a leap forward with the arrival of University of Colorado Cancer Center's program co-leader for prevention and control, Myles Cockburn, PhD. Dr. Cockburn's research focuses on the prevention of skin cancer by changing the behaviors of school children in high risk communities. He also is designing methods to improve prevention and early detection of skin cancer and other screenable cancers like breast cancer and colorectal cancer. more...
New President for National Patient Advocate Foundation Executive Board
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Al B. Benson III, MD, Associate Director for Cooperative Groups at the Lurie Cancer Center, was elected President of the National Patient Advocate Foundation's Executive Board (NPAF). Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, NPAF is a nonprofit organization that provides the patient voice in improving access to, and reimbursement for, high-quality healthcare. more...
Research Highlights
Husbands of Happy, More-Educated Wives More Likely to Get Colonoscopy
The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
A national study involving 804 couples found that married men over age 55 were almost 20 percent more likely to have had a screening colonoscopy in the previous five years than men who were not married. Men married to women who are happier with the marital relationship were nearly 30 percent more likely. That rises to more than 40 percent if their wives were highly educated. William Dale, MD, PhD, directed the study. more...
CTLA-4 Discovery in Dendritic Cells Opens New Paths to Fight Cancer
The Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Until now, most scientists agreed that CTLA-4, a molecule on the surface of T cells, was only present on T cells and other cells of the same lineage. But Baylor College of Medicine researchers have discovered that CTLA-4 is also produced and secreted by dendritic cells, which are the 'generals' of the T cells in the battle against cancer. William K Decker, PhD, is senior author of the paper. more...
Immunotherapy Drug Shows Long-Lasting Response in Advanced Melanoma
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA
UCLA researchers have found that a game-changing immunotherapy drug produces positive responses that are long-lasting and with less side effects than traditional treatments in people with advanced melanoma, the deadliest and most aggressive form of skin cancer. The study is a long-term follow-up of the phase 1 clinical trial that led to the approval of the drug pembrolizumab by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The trial is the largest ever conducted in people with advanced melanoma. more...
Researchers Uncover Process that Drives Prostate Cancer Metastasis
VCU Massey Cancer Center
Researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a novel function of the gene PLK1 (polo-like kinase 1) that helps prostate cancer cells metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. This mechanism highlights new potential targets for cancer therapies and challenges the previous understanding of PLK1's role in cancer growth and progression. more...
Researchers Make Biosensor One Million Times More Sensitive
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University
Physicists and engineers at Case Western Reserve University have developed an optical sensor, based on nanostructured metamaterials, that's 1 million times more sensitive than the current best available-one capable of identifying a single lightweight molecule in a highly dilute solution. Their goal: to provide oncologists a way to detect a single molecule of an enzyme produced by circulating cancer cells. more...
Media Coverage of Celebrities with Breast Cancer May be Influencing Rise in Double Mastectomy
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
An increase in women with breast cancer choosing double mastectomy may be influenced by media coverage of celebrities, a new study finds. From 2000 to 2012, 17 celebrities publicly disclosed their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed 727 articles from major U.S. print publications that covered these celebrity diagnoses. Michael Sabel, MD, is study author. more...
Trial: Low-Grade Brain Tumors Radiation Plus Chemotherapy is Best Treatment
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute

New clinical-trial findings show that patients with a low-grade form of brain cancer who are treated with radiation plus a combination of chemotherapy drugs have better survival than patients treated with radiation alone. The study comes from a randomized phase III clinical trial of 251 people with grade 2 gliomas, tumors that occur mostly in young adults and cause progressive neurological problems and premature death. Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute helped lead the study. more...
History of Chicken Pox May Reduce Risk of Brain Cancer Later in Life
The Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center
In one of the largest studies to date, an international consortium led by researchers in the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine reported an inverse relationship between a history of chicken pox and glioma, a type of brain cancer, meaning that children who have had the chicken pox may be less likely to develop brain cancer. more...
Aging Impacts Therapeutic Response of Melanoma Cells
The Wistar Institute
An international team of scientists led by The Wistar Institute have shown that tumor cells in aged skin behave differently than tumor cells in younger skin. Age-related changes in the microenvironment make tumor cells more metastatic and more resistant to treatment with targeted therapies. In light of these findings, the scientists demonstrated how antioxidants could serve as a better treatment strategy for older patients with melanoma. Ashani Weeraratna, PhD, is lead author on the study. more...
New Method Could Resurrect an Abandoned Pancreatic Cancer Targeted Drug
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University
Pancreatic cancer is on track to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths by 2020 due, in part, to its resistance to most targeted cancer therapies. Working with pancreatic cancer cells, researchers have now found a mechanism that could be responsible for the cancer’s resistance to at least one targeted approach. If the results hold true in animal models and eventually clinical trials, the approach could help researchers develop more effective combination therapies and breathe new life into forgotten and failed cancer drugs. more...
Lower-Carb Diet Slows Growth of Aggressive Brain Tumor in Mouse Models
UF Health Cancer Center
University of Florida Health researchers have slowed a notoriously aggressive type of brain tumor in mouse models by using a low-carbohydrate diet. A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that included a coconut oil derivative helped reduce the growth of glioblastoma tumor cells and extended lifespan in mouse models by 50 percent, researchers found. more...
People With Hepatitis C are 2-5 Times More Likely to Get Certain Head, Neck Cancers
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Long associated with liver cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a study from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reveals for the first time that the hepatitis C virus is associated with certain head and neck cancers. The findings could have significant implications for both the screening of those with the virus and the treatment of those with head and neck cancers. more...
Chronic Heavy Alcohol Consumption May Make It Harder to Quit Smoking
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
For smokers who are addicted to alcohol, chronic alcohol abuse may increase the rate of nicotine metabolism and contribute to poor smoking cessation rates. When smokers stop drinking the nicotine metabolism rates decline significantly, according to a study conducted by an international research team led by Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The research was a collaboration of scientists from Roswell Park, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Medical University of Silesia and Center of Addiction Treatment in Poland. more...
Chronic Inflammation of Obesity, Autoimmune Conditions Leads to Imbalanced Blood System and Potential Cancer Risk
University of Colorado Cancer Center
A new study shows that chronic exposure to an inflammatory "emergency" signal, interleukin-1, causes blood-forming bone marrow stem cells to produce cells needed to fight infection and repair injury, but at the expense of their own ability to self-renew and maintain a healthy blood system. This results in overproduction of aggressive immune cells capable of severely damaging tissues. more...
Precision Medicine Brings New Hope to Those with Advanced Urothelial Cancer
The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
Five of six patients with advanced metastatic urothelial cancer and at least one of two specific genetic abnormalities, responded to treatment with afatinib, which was approved in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration for patients with lung cancer. One patient, who had both mutations, had stable disease for 16 months after taking afatinib. None of the other 17 patients in the trial, who lacked those specific abnormalities, had a significant response to the drug. more...
Vaccine Strategy Produces Rapid, Long-Term Protection Against Chikungunya Virus
The Wistar Institute
New research from The Wistar Institute has demonstrated how a novel vaccine strategy that boosts the immune system by rapidly producing antibodies against the Chikungunya virus, combined with a traditional DNA-based vaccine approach, can provide both short term and long term protection against the virus. David B. Weiner, PhD, is senior author of the study. more...
Other News
Research Ideas Sought by the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative
National Cancer Institute
As part of Vice President Joe Biden's National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the National Cancer Institute has launched an online engagement platform to enable the research community and the public to submit cancer research ideas to a Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific experts. more...
Job Opportunities
Chair of Hematology-Oncology  
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health


Study Coordinator  
Cancer Therapy and Research Center at the
University of Texas Health Science Center


Meeting Announcements

Breast Cancer Metastasis & Recurrence
The Wistar Institute and the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy presents a special, free, one-day scientific conference with experts in breast cancer research discussing new possibilities in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The May 10th conference will cover Breast Cancer metastasis and recurrence, including prevention, detection and immunotherapies. Nobel Laureate Dr. Carol Greider will give the keynote address.
Details of the conference and free registration are found here:

2016 Capitol Hill Day
AACI will co-host its annual Capitol Hill Day with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
May 11-12, 2016
Washington, DC
Register to attend today!

Regulatory Myeloid Suppressor Cells
The Wistar Institute is hosting a June 16-19 conference. This conference will focus on the pathological functions of myeloid-derived suppressor cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and neutrophils, and provide a forum for in-depth discussion of the most pressing issues associated with the biology and clinical application of these cells. The conference will bring together scientists from academia and industry interested in the basic and translational aspects of these cells in cancer and other pathological conditions. The agenda includes plenary sessions, which combine presentations from invited speakers and those selected from submitted abstracts, and poster sessions, where the most recent data will be discussed.
Register for the conference and learn more, visit:

8th Annual AACI Clinical Research Initiative Meeting
July 20-21, 2016
Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel
Please note that the deadline for submitting abstracts for consideration for presentation at the meeting is Monday, May 9, at 5:00 PM PST.

Clinical & Translational Research Workshop
July 25-29, 2016
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is sponsoring an intensive, tuition-free, weeklong workshop in clinical research study design, protocol development, and clinical trial conduct. The workshop will promote collaborative interactions between clinicians, translational researchers, and biostatisticians and is designed for junior/mid-level clinical researchers who have completed their doctoral degrees and seek to keep current with advances in clinical trial design and translational research. The workshop will employ a variety of teaching methods: didactic lectures, mentored protocol writing in small group sessions, oral presentations and discussion of the protocols, and a mock scientific review. For more information and to apply to the workshop, visit the website at:

2016 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting
Register now:
October 23-25, 2016
Westin Chicago River North
Chicago, IL