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News from the Association of American Cancer InstitutesNovember 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 as well as individuals interested in the cancer center-related activities of AACI. AACI Update reports on the progress of AACI initiatives along with other AACI endeavors that benefit the cancer community and highlights important news and events at AACI member institutions.

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Highlights from the 2016 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting

Clockwise, from upper left (L-R): Greg Simon; Dr. George Weiner, Barbara Duffy Stewart, Dr. James Allison, Dr. Stanton Gerson; Dr. Richard Pazdur; panel discussion attendees; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge. Center photo: Learning about best practices during a meeting break. Photos by Randy Belice

The 2016 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting, held October 23-25, in Chicago, featured talks by Greg Simon, executive director of Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot Task Force, Dr. Richard Pazdur, acting director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Oncology Center of Excellence, and National Cancer Institute Acting Director Dr. Douglas Lowy.

The meeting convened more than 350 AACI cancer center directors and executive-level administrators with leaders of national cancer research and advocacy groups, industry, and government health agencies to develop solutions to common challenges and to share best practices. more...

Fuchs to Lead Yale Cancer Center
Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven and Yale Cancer Center (YCC) have announced that Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, will become the new YCC director and physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Dr. Fuchs is currently professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the gastrointestinal oncology division and the Robert T. and Judith B. Hale Chair in Pancreatic Cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. more...

PCLI Meeting Examines Value-Based Reimbursement Standards

More than 75 members of the AACI Physician Clinical Leadership Initiative (PCLI) convened during the AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting, October 23 in Chicago. PCLI provides a forum where AACI cancer center clinical services leaders--such as chief medical officer or physician-in-chief--can collect, evaluate, and share best practices that promote the efficient and effective operation of cancer center clinical and quality care programs.

This year's fourth annual PCLI meeting focused on how centers can provide a cancer care delivery system which supports high value care for patients while satisfying value based reimbursement standards. more...

Gerson AACI Presidential Initiative Aims to Integrate Cancer Treatment Advances into the Community
Stanton L. Gerson, MD, became the new president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes during AACI's annual meeting in Chicago, held October 23-25. Dr. Gerson is the Asa and Patricia Shiverick- Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Cleveland, OH, founding director of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, and Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University. He is also director of University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland and a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors.

During the annual meeting, co-hosted by the Cancer Center Administrators Forum, Dr. Gerson succeeded Dr. George Weiner as AACI president (see photo), and launched his two-year term with a presentation outlining plans for his presidential initiative, which will address a major objective of the Obama Administration's Cancer Moonshot initiative: Promoting collaborations with researchers, doctors and patients to improve patient outcomes and health care value in the community. more...

AACI Welcomes Salk as New Member
The Salk Institute Cancer Center, in La Jolla, California, is AACI's newest member. Directed by Reuben Shaw, PhD, the center was established at the Salk Institute in 1970 and is a basic research National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center.

In March 2013 the Salk center joined the NCI-designated UCSD Moores Cancer Center and the NCI-designated Sanford Burnham Cancer Center to form the San Diego National Cancer Institute Cancer Centers Council (SD NCI C3). See the Winter 2014 AACI Commentary for more details. more...

News from the Centers
Awards & Honors
Perou Recognized with Komen Top Scientific Honor
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Susan G. Komen will present its highest scientific honor, the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction, to Charles M. Perou, PhD, a renowned breast cancer researcher at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Perou is being recognized for cancer genomics research that demonstrated that breast cancer can be classified into different molecular subtypes, a finding that has had important clinical value. more...
Ramalingam Honored with Goizueta Chair for Cancer Research
Winship Cancer Institute
Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, deputy director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and assistant dean for cancer research in the Emory School of Medicine, was honored with the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research. The endowment was established to support a key leader in Winship’s lung cancer program. more...
Richter Named McCann Professor for Women in Medicine
University of Kansas Cancer Center
Kim Richter, PhD, MPH, Professor in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Cancer Center member, has been named the 2016-2019 Joy McCann Professor for KU Medical Center. The Joy McCann Professorship is awarded every three years to an accomplished woman faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and mentoring while encouraging, inspiring and rewarding other women faculty in their academic careers. Dr. Richter will focus on strategies to assess the status and advance the careers of women faculty at KU School of Medicine. more...
Fox Chase Designated a National Pancreas Foundation Center
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health
Fox Chase Cancer Center has been designated as a National Pancreas Foundation Center by the National Pancreas Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides hope for those suffering from pancreatic cancer, and other pancreas related diseases. To earn this distinction, Fox Chase had to demonstrate a multidisciplinary approach to patient care with on-site access to clinical trials and expert physician specialties including oncologists, gastroenterologists, pancreatic surgeons, palliative care specialists, and interventional radiologists, along with more patient-focused programs such as a pain management service and psychosocial support. more...
UAB Hospital Named a Top Breast Health Center in U.S.
UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital has received a 2016 Women's Choice Award among the best breast health centers in the country based on its clinical excellence and female patient satisfaction. The UAB Breast Health Center is part of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. more...
Krasnow Elected to National Academy of Medicine
Stanford Cancer Institute
Mark Krasnow, MD, PhD, a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, along with four other Stanford faculty. Dr. Krasnow is a professor of biochemistry, executive director of the Wall Center for Pulmonary Vascular Disease and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. His research examines the development of lung tissue and the role of stem cells, the genetic origin of lung cancer and other lung diseases, and the neural circuits that control breathing and speech. more...
Grants & Gifts
Research Gets 3rd Quarter Boost with More Than $12.7 Million in New Grant Funding
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Roswell Park Cancer Institute was awarded more than $12.7 million in new grant funding during the third quarter of 2016, the majority of those funds from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). These recent awards include two large NCI grants to Christine Ambrosone, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Senior Vice President for Population Sciences at the Institute, for her work in the area of breast cancer population research and more than $1.6 million in supplemental awards to the Institute's five-year, $19 million NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG), the coveted award that accompanied renewal of the Institute's NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation in 2014. more...
New Research Center to Empower Study of Novel Genetic Control Panel
The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
A new research center led by Chuan He, PhD, and UChicago scientists will develop unprecedented technologies to decode RNA modifications, the next layer of gene expression control. The $10.6 million, five-year award from the National Human Genome Research Institute will establish Chicago's first Center of Excellence in Genomic Science-one of only seven such centers in the United States. more...
Wolverine-Badger Challenge Helps Raise More Than $5.9 Million for Childhood Cancer Research
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
The first-ever Wolverine-Badger challenge between C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin's American Family Children's Hospital helped raise more than $5.9 million for pediatric cancer research. The October 1 football game between the two schools was the culmination of a month-long competition between the rivals to see who could raise the most money during September's Childhood Cancer Awareness month. more...
Cancer Disparities Grant with Meharry, TSU Gains Renewal
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
A multi-year collaborative cancer research effort among Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University (TSU) will receive continued federal funding through the renewal of U54 Partners in Eliminating Cancer Disparities Grants from the National Cancer Institute. This is the 17th year of funding for the research partnership (which added TSU in recent years), designed to identify the causes of racial disparities in cancer incidence and death rates between blacks and whites and to develop remedies for those disparities. The grants are slated to provide research funding for five additional years. more...
Leadership Transitions
Davidson to Lead Clinical Oncology for Fred Hutch
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has announced that Nancy E. Davidson, MD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has accepted the position of executive director of clinical oncology for the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium. Her appointment will become effective December 1. In her new role, Dr. Davidson will serve as a bridge builder across the cancer treatment, clinical, translational, basic sciences and public health research programs of consortium members Fred Hutch, UW School of Medicine, UW School of Public Health, Seattle Children's and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, more...
Lung Cancer Expert to Join NYU Langone as Chief of Hematology, Medical Oncology
Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone
The Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center has named clinician-scientist Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, as its new chief of hematology and medical oncology. Dr. Wong will join the Perlmutter faculty in January 2017. His research has provided new insight into the genetic and environmental causes of lung cancer, enabling testing of novel lung cancer therapies. more...
Brain Cancer Expert Appointed Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Swiss neuro-oncologist, Roger Stupp, MD, has been appointed associate director for strategic initiatives at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. An authority on the treatment of primary and metastatic brain cancer, Dr. Stupp will join Northwestern Medicine in April 2017 as a professor of Neurological Surgery. He will work collaboratively with other neuro-oncologists in the Division of Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neurology and the Lurie Cancer Center's Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute to help advance efforts to treat complex brain tumors medically. more...
Lu-Yao New Associate Director of Population Science
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University
Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, MPH, has been named as the Associate Director for Population Science at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and the Vice Chair and professor in the department of medical oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, with a joint appointment at Jefferson College of Population Health. more...
Figlin to Lead Initiative to Integrate Cancer Care and Treatment Across Health System
Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
In an effort to standardize cancer care and ensure optimal treatment of patients, Cedars-Sinai has appointed Robert A. Figlin, MD, to integrate research and clinical strategies across the organization. He will serve as deputy director of the Integrated Oncology Service Line at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Previously, he was director of the Hematology Oncology Division at the institute. more...
National Pharmacogenomics Expert Joins Markey, College of Pharmacy Faculty
UK Markey Cancer Center
The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center and UK College of Pharmacy welcome clinical pharmacologist Jill Kolesar, PharmD, B.C.P.S., FCCP, RPh, to their respective teams. Dr. Kolesar has extensive experience in oncology pharmacogenomics and the implementation of clinical trials, and she will serve several roles at UK with a focus on enhancing the UK Markey Cancer Center's precision medicine initiatives. more...
DCI Welcomes New Assistant VP, Community Oncology
Duke Cancer Institute
David Nalepinski has assumed the role of assistant vice president of Community Oncology, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Health System. For the past seven years Nalepinski has served as director of the oncology service line at Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. more...
Brabbs Named Chief Administrative Officer
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Julie C. Brabbs, MBA, was named Cancer Center chief administrative officer. She will also serve as associate director for administration for the center's National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant. The appointment became effective October 17. Ms. Brabbs has served for nearly 10 years as administrator for the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the U-M Department of Internal Medicine. more...
Research Highlights
Blood Biomarkers in Drug-Resistant Cancer Tumor Cells Identified
Duke Cancer Institute
While searching for a non-invasive way to detect prostate cancer cells circulating in blood, Duke Cancer Institute researchers have identified some blood markers associated with tumor resistance to two common hormone therapies. In a study published in October, the Duke-led team reported that they isolated multiple key gene alterations in the circulating prostate tumor cells of patients who had developed resistance to abiraterone or enzalutamide. Andrew Armstrong, MD, is senior author. more...
Adding Oxidative Stress to FLT3 Inhibition Proves Promising Combination Against AML
University of Colorado Cancer Center
FLT3 inhibitors are a promising new class of drugs targeting acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, these inhibitors alone tend not to result in long-term control of the disease. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates the promise of adding drugs that increase oxidative stress to FLT3 inhibition, potentially paving the way for combination therapy directed at the disease. more...
Imaging with New Biomarker Tracks Tumor Progression, Response to Treatment for Common Brain Cancer
Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have developed an MRI-based method that can track the state and progression of a common type of genetically mutated brain cancer. The study showed that 2HG is an excellent biomarker for tracking certain gliomas with IDH mutations and also can provide a diagnosis when neurological risk from surgery is too high, researchers said. Researchers used MR spectroscopy, a method for distinguishing the chemical makeup of normal vs. mutated brain tissue, to track 2HG concentrations. more...
Particular HPV Strain Linked to Improved Prognosis for Throat Cancer
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
In an analysis of survival data for patients with a particular type of head and neck cancer, researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center confirmed findings that a particular strain of HPV, a virus linked to a number of cancers, resulted in better overall survival for patients with oropharyngeal cancer than patients with other strains of the virus in their tumors. Jose P. Zevallos, MD, MPH, is the study’s senior author. more...
Novel Mechanism In Combination Drug Therapy For Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Other Cancers Identified
University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
Researchers have discovered a novel mechanism in a combination drug therapy that shows potential as a new approach for treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and many other cancers. When combined, these agents cause interactions that significantly disrupt cancer cells' ability to survive DNA damage, according to a preclinical study. Feyruz V. Rassool, PhD, was senior author on the study. more...
Clinical Trial Data Sharing Off to a Slow Start
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
For many years, doctors, scientists and researchers have urged that clinical drug trial data be shared to accelerate medical advances in treating multiple diseases. But two years after free patient data became available in a major data-sharing project, the biggest surprise is how little it is being used. Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, is lead author of a paper that explores the unexpectedly low usage of the free data. Since GlaxoSmithKline began making anonymous patient data available in May 2013, 177 research proposals were submitted and access granted to 144 by an independent review committee headed by Strom. No applications were denied; 33 were withdrawn after requests for more information. more...
Drug Target for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Found in New Study
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
A team of researchers led by UC San Francisco scientists has identified a new drug target for triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive disease subtype that has the poorest outcomes and accounts for as many as one in five cases. The findings are particularly noteworthy because drugs that act on the newly discovered target, a protein known as PIM1, are already in clinical trials for leukemia and multiple myeloma. more...
Study Identifies Significant Cost Differences Between Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Regimens
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Costs associated with different breast cancer chemotherapy regimens can vary significantly, regardless of effectiveness, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Sharon Giordano, MD, was lead author on the study. The largest variations were seen when comparing insurer costs. For patients who did not receive trastuzumab, median insurance payments were $82,260 and varied by as much as $20,354 relative to the most common regimen. Median out-of-pocket costs were $2,727 but 25 percent of patients paid more than $4,712 and 10 percent paid more than $7,041. more...
Earlier Prostate Cancer Deaths Linked to Genetic Variant
Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute
New Cleveland Clinic research led by Nima Sharifi, MD, shows that men with advanced prostate cancer face much poorer outcomes if they carry a specific variant in the HSD3B1 gene, which is related to testosterone synthesis. The studied followed 443 men at Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic who were treated with androgen deprivation therapy, the standard of care for treatment of advanced prostate cancer. They found that the presence of a single nucleotide polymorphism HSD3B1 (1245C) was strongly correlated with poorer survival (progression-free, distant metastasis-free, and overall survival) in patients. They also found that patients who had inherited two copies of the altered gene fared much worse. more...
Research Could Speed Identification of Recurrent Tumors, Eliminate Brain Biopsies
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University
Computer programs have defeated humans in Jeopardy!, chess and Go. Now a program developed at Case Western Reserve University has outperformed physicians on a more serious matter. The program was nearly twice as accurate as two neuroradiologists in determining whether abnormal tissue seen on magnetic resonance images were dead brain cells caused by radiation, called radiation necrosis, or if brain cancer had returned. more...
Strange ’Chimeras’ Defy Science’s Understanding of Human Genetics
University of Virginia Cancer Center
The human genome is far more complex than thought, with genes functioning in an unexpected fashion that scientists have wrongly assumed must indicate cancer. Hui Li, PhD, of the Department of Pathology and the UVA Cancer Center, is a pioneer in a small but emerging field that is challenging fundamental assumptions about human genetics. He seeks to understand what is called chimeric RNA - genetic material that results when genes on two different chromosomes produce "fusion" RNA in a way scientists say shouldn't happen. more...
Clinical Trial Initiative Focuses On Precision Medicine, Collaboration and Data Sharing
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has announced Precision Promise, the first large-scale precision medicine trial designed to transform outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer. The organization also announced 12 initial Precision Promise Clinical Trial Consortium sites selected to participate in this groundbreaking initiative. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has committed a minimum initial investment of $35 million over the first four years, not including drug costs, and expects to enroll thousands of patients. more...
Vanderbilt Scientists to Lead Chronic Disease Research Initiative in Vietnam
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Scientists in the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) have been awarded a grant to plan and develop a Regional Center of Research Excellence in non-communicable diseases in Vietnam. VICC’s Xiao Ou Shu, MD, PhD, MPH, and Thuan Van Tran, MD, director of the National Institute for Cancer Control in Vietnam, will serve as co-principal investigators for the project. more...
New Research Verifies TASINs as Viable Target for Colon Cancer Therapies
Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center
A small molecule called TASIN-1 can selectively kill cells with a mutation that is considered to be a precursor to colon cancer, while sparing related normal cells, UT Southwestern Medical Center cancer biologists have demonstrated. The mutated cells that are killed using TASIN-1 are found in more than 80 percent of colon tumors. more...
Stability of Exhausted T Cells Limits Durability of Cancer Checkpoint Drugs
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
E. John Wherry, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have found that reinvigorating exhausted T cells in mice using a PD-L1 blockade caused very few T memory cells to develop. After the blockade, re-invigorated T cells became re-exhausted if antigen from the virus remained high, and failed to become memory T cells when the virus was cleared. more...
Other News
Study Bringing Cuban Lung Cancer Vaccine to U.S. Patients
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that a partnership formed during his New York State Trade Mission to Cuba last year has resulted in a milestone of international collaboration: the launch of a U.S. clinical trial of a Cuban immunotherapy developed by the Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM) for lung cancer. Roswell Park Cancer Institute has received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin offering the lung cancer treatment vaccine CIMAvax-EGF® to a limited number of patients through a clinical trial, making the Roswell Park the first American institution to receive FDA permission to sponsor testing of a Cuban medical therapy in the United States. more...
Lurie, Tempus Announce Precision Medicine Partnership for Cancer Patients
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, and Tempus, a health-tech company focused on helping doctors personalize cancer care have announced a partnership to pursue their shared goal of providing precision medicine to cancer patients. Tempus will serve as a preferred partner to handle genomic sequencing and analysis as part of Lurie Cancer Center's new OncoSET initiative. more...
John Bailar, Biostatistician who Redirected U.S. Cancer Policy, 1932-2016
The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
A renowned biostatistician and epidemiologist who used those tools to study cancer risk, prevention and treatment and the impact of environmental exposures on health, John C. Bailar, III, MD, PhD, professor emeritus in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Chicago, died September 6, in Mitchellville, Maryland. He was 83. more...
Job Opportunities
Director Patient Care - Inpatient Oncology  
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

Research Nurse, Clinical Trials Office  
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Executive Director  
University of Florida Health Cancer Center

Administrative Director  
Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases

Director, Sylvester Administration (P00012474)  
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health System
Meeting Announcements

9th Annual AACI Clinical Research Initiative Meeting
Save the Date!
July 12-13, 2017
Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel

2017 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting
Save the Date!
October 15-17, 2017
Grand Hyatt Washington, DC