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Destination Medicine UpdateThe Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Summer Issue 2016   Inside This Issue:

Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Ohio State University’s Destination Medicine Update!
This e-newsletter provides a look at some of the groundbreaking research, innovative patient care and prestigious honors, awards and achievements that make Ohio State’s internationally renowned cancer program a destination of choice for cancer patients and families from around the world. Realizing that every cancer is biologically unique and that no cancer is routine, the experts at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) are transforming the way cancers are prevented, detected, treated and cured. The Destination Medicine team at the OSUCCC – James and Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center is dedicated to ensuring that distance and language are not obstacles to receiving world-class care, opening the door to people from around the globe who turn to us for help.

  National Leadership News »
  Key Grants, Awards & Honors »
  Prominent Studies »
  Publications »
  Upcoming OSUCCC – James Events »
  Featured Events/Presentations »
  Patient Testimonials »
  Visit cancer.osu.edu »
Email »
Website »
  National Leadership News

Michael A. Caligiuri, MDMichael A. Caligiuri, MD, Named American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) President-Elect

The members of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have elected Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, as their president-elect for 2016-2017. He officially became president-elect at the AACR Annual Meeting 2016, held in New Orleans April 16-20, and he will assume the presidency in April 2017 at the Annual Meeting.

Caligiuri is director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the Arthur G.  James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, located in Columbus, Ohio. He holds the John L. Marakas Nationwide Insurance Enterprise Foundation Chair in Cancer Research and is a professor in The Ohio State University College of Medicine departments of Depart of Cancer Biology and Genetics, and Department of Internal Medicine.

Caligiuri is a renowned physician-scientist known for his work in immunology that is focused on human natural killer cells and their modulation for the treatment of leukemiamyeloma and glioblastoma. Well over 1,500 cancer patients have been treated on clinical protocols that have emanated from the Caligiuri laboratory. He will work collaboratively with the AACR board of directors and the AACR membership, which includes more than 35,000 members in 104 countries, to further the association’s mission to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication and collaboration.

“For nearly a century, the AACR has been an unwavering catalyst for advancing cancer research in meaningful ways: fostering collaboration among scientists and physicians, accelerating the dissemination of cancer discoveries and supporting the education and training of young cancer researchers. I am humbled and tremendously honored to be elected by my peers to serve as AACR president-elect,” says Caligiuri. “This is an especially exciting time as we all work to forge new and innovative models of collaboration between academia, industry, the government and the community – something I am certain AACR can play a pivotal role in facilitating.”

To learn more, visit cancer.osu.edu. To read a special letter from Dr. Caligiuri, visit the OSUCCC – James Blog.


National Cancer InstituteOhio State Receives Top Rating From National Cancer Institute – “Exceptional” – Redesignated As Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) has again been ranked as “exceptional” and renewed as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest honor bestowed on a cancer program in the United States.

Designation from the NCI as a comprehensive cancer center is the most prestigious recognition a cancer program can receive, as it provides an external and expert validation of the quality of an institution’s cancer research.

NCI-designation is achieved through a competitive peer-review process that includes both written and in-person site evaluation of a cancer center’s research programs and infrastructure. There are three levels of recognition, with “comprehensive cancer center” status being reserved for the most robust programs. All NCI-designated cancer centers have been recognized for achieving a benchmark level of scientific leadership, resources and depth/breadth of research initiatives.

Cancer centers are ranked on both a qualitative scale–with “exceptional” being the highest rating possible–as well as a numeric scale from 10 to 100, with lower scores being better. The OSUCCC – James was rated “exceptional” and received a perfect score of 10. The institution will receive a five-year renewal with an estimated $25 million Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) from the NCI.

Read more »


John C. Byrd, MDByrd Wins Major National Award for Clinical Cancer Research

John C. Byrd, MD, professor and director of the Division of Hematology at Ohio State, and co-leader of the Leukemia Research Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), received the 21st Annual Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research during a ceremony at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting (April 16-20) in New Orleans.

Established in 1996, the award is named for the late Joseph H. Burchenal, MD, honorary member and past president of the AACR, who was a major figure in clinical cancer research and chemotherapy. As this year’s recipient, Byrd delivered his award lecture, “Targeting BTK in CLL: A New Treatment Paradigm,” on April 19.

On May 4, Byrd, who also holds the D. Warren Brown Designated Chair in Leukemia Research, was named a 2016 Distinguished University Professor, the highest honor that Ohio State bestows on a faculty member. To date, only 53 other faculty members have held the Distinguished University Professor title.

A member of the National Cancer Institute’s Leukemia Steering Committee, Byrd is chair of the Leukemia Correlative Sciences Committee within the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He has published more than 400 papers related to clinical and laboratory investigation of acute myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In 2014, Byrd was rated in the top 10 percent of physicians in the nation for patient satisfaction.


Ohio State Participates in Vice President Biden’s Inaugural Cancer Moonshot Summit

On June 29, Vice President Joe Biden hosted the first national Cancer Moonshot Summit. The Summit took place in Washington, D.C. and in many different forms at cancer centers and cancer advocacy groups across the country.

The OSUCCC – James hosted a virtual breakfast with presentations OSUCCC Director and James CEO Michael A. Caligiuri, MD; Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, associate director for biospecimen research at the OSUCCC – James and associate director of the Division of Human Genetics at Ohio State; and Darrell Gray, MD, MPH, assistant professor clinical in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Ohio State and a member of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC – James, where he is also deputy director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity. The breakfast focused on how the OSUCCC – James is collaborating in central Ohio, the state of Ohio and across the country to speed up the delivery of better targeted treatments to cancer patients in Ohio and beyond.

To view videos from the breakfast, please visit the OSUCCC – James YouTube channel.

Caligiuri also participated in Vice President Biden’s Moonshot event in Washington, D.C. The national Moonshoot Initiative, which is aimed at curing cancer, was announced by President Barack Obama on Jan. 12 in his State-of-the-Union address and is led by Biden.

  Key Grants, Awards and Honors

Terence Williams, MD, PhDOhio State Researchers Gain NCI Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Study
A team of scientists at the OSUCCC – James has landed a five-year grant for approximately $1.97 million from the National Cancer Institute for a study designed to be the first to refine an existing therapy in pancreatic cancer through targeting a specific molecular pathway.

Led by principal investigator Terence Williams, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Ohio State, the team has identified a protein “that is abundant in pancreatic cancer cells, important for their growth and may be important for entry and response of Abraxane® into tumor cells, thus serving as a potential biomarker for personalization of therapy and a target for further research.” Abraxane® is a chemotherapy drug that, when paired with gemcitabine, has shown improvement in some pancreatic cancer patients.

Read more »


Clara D. Bloomfield, MDBloomfield Elected as Fellow in AACR Academy
Clara D. Bloomfield, MD, a Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State who also serves as cancer scholar and senior adviser to the OSUCCC – James, has been elected as a fellow in the prestigious American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy. The 2016 class of 11 fellows was inducted on the eve of the AACR Annual Meeting held in April in New Orleans. Bloomfield was elected for her research devoted to defining the chromosomal abnormalities that contribute to hematologic malignancies. The AACR Academy was created in 2013 to recognize scientists whose major scholarly contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer.

Read more »

Rebecca Jackson, MD Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH
Jackson Paskett

Jackson, Paskett Represent WHI in Accepting AACR Team Science Award
Rebecca Jackson, MD, director of the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH, associate director for population sciences at the OSUCCC – James, were selected to represent the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in receiving the 10th Annual Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research.

The national WHI team received this award for its collective efforts that have broadened the understanding of the effects of hormone therapy and nutrition on cancer. Jackson is the Ohio State site/regional center principal investigator and chair of the WHI Steering Committee. Paskett is a site co-investigator for the WHI and an investigator for the WHI Cancer Survivor Study funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Read more »


Peter Shields, MDShields Receives Cullen Award for Tobacco Research Excellence
Peter Shields, MD, deputy director of the OSUCCC and a professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at Ohio State, received the Joseph W. Cullen Award for excellence in tobacco research at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO) held March 12-15 in Columbus, Ohio. The award recognizes distinguished achievement in continued national tobacco-control efforts through research, the development of prevention and cessation programs with wide-ranging public health impact, and public policy and advocacy initiatives. As award recipient, Shields presented “Tobacco Research and Regulation: Translational Science Cannot Be More Clear.”


Christin Burd, PhDBurd is Recipient of Prestigious Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award
Christin Burd, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry and the Department of Molecular Genetics at Ohio State, is among seven scientists nationwide with novel approaches to fighting cancer who were named as 2016 recipients of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award. This grant, for $300,000 over two years, goes to early-career scientists whose projects have the potential to impact cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Burd proposes novel mutation-specific studies in a variety of tumor types, starting with melanoma, thyroid cancer and acute myeloid leukemia.

Read more »


Arnab Chakravarti, MDChakravarti Earns Lifetime Achievement Award From SAASCR
Arnab Chakravarti, MD (left), professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Ohio State, received the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Asian-American Scientists in Cancer Research (SAASCR) for his sentinel contributions in the realm of translational cancer research and in the brain tumor field. Chakravarti received his award at an April 16 ceremony coinciding with the 2016 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans. At right in the photo is SAASCR President Rajvir Dahiya, PhD.


Jeffrey Fowler, MDFowler Serving 1-Year Term as President of SGO
Jeffrey Fowler, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Ohio State, began a one-year term as the 48th president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) on March 22 at the conclusion of the SGO’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, which was held in San Diego. Fowler has made gynecologic oncology wellness a priority for his term as president.

Read more »


Ehud Mendel, MD, FACSMendel Elected to American Academy of Neurological Surgery
Ehud Mendel, MD, FACS, professor and vice chair for clinical affairs in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State and the OSUCCC – James, was elected as a member of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery during the academy’s 2015 annual meeting in Heidelberg, Germany. The academy fosters scientific discovery and innovative research to better the lives of patients suffering from neurological and surgical disorders. Also, an artist’s rendering of Mendel’s work was for the third time selected to appear on the front cover of the Journal of Neurological Surgery (January 2016 issue). Mendel also directs the Spine Oncology Program at the OSUCCC – James and serves as clinical director of the OSU Spine Research Institute.

  Prominent Studies

Nivolumab Improved Survival for Patients With Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Clinical treatment with the immunotherapeutic nivolumab (Opdivo®) improved survival for patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma that progressed after platinum-based chemotherapy compared with single-agent chemotherapy of the investigator’s choice, according to results from the CheckMate-141 phase III clinical trial presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in April.

“Recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma that is not responsive to platinum-based chemotherapy progresses very rapidly, and patients have a very poor prognosis,” says Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State. “Treatment usually involves single-agent chemotherapy. However, no therapy has been shown to improve survival for this patient population. New treatment options are desperately needed.

“This study is the first randomized clinical trial to clearly demonstrate improved overall survival for patients with platinum-refractory recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” Gillison adds. “We hope the results will establish nivolumab as a new standard-of-care option for this patient population and thereby fulfill a huge unmet need.”

Read more »


Primary Tumor Location Predicts Survival in Metastatic Colon Cancer, Impacts Choice of Targeted Therapy
A retrospective analysis of phase III data from a large multicenter clinical trial (CALGB/SWOG 80405) finds that primary tumor location (left versus right side) can help predict survival and guide treatment choices for patients with metastatic colon cancer. The study was presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago June 3-7. Richard Goldberg, MD, physician-in-chief at the OSUCCC – James, is a co-author and local principal investigator of the study, which was led nationally by Alan P. Venook, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco.

Researchers analyzed 1,100 patients treated at hundreds of hospitals across the United States and Canada, including 30 patients from the OSUCCC – James. Data showed that patients with primary colon tumors originating on the left side (descending colon, sigmoid colon and rectum) survived on average significantly longer than patients whose tumors originated on the right side (the cecum and ascending colon). Patients with left-sided tumors had a longer median overall survival (33.3 months) compared to patients with right-side tumors (19.4 months).

“We now have definitive data showing that right and left side colon cancers have very different characteristics, so much that they are almost like two different diseases that do better with different treatment paths, even though pathologically they look the same under a microscope,” Goldberg says.

Read more »


Study Suggests Radiation Plus Chemotherapy is Best Treatment for Low-Grade Brain Tumors
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, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 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 OSUCCC – James helped lead the study. “This is a practice-changing study,” says Arnab Chakravarti, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Ohio State. Chakravarti is the trial’s translational research national study chair.

Read more »


Watch the videoBiologic Age—Versus Chronologic Age—Should Drive Cancer Treatment Choices
As the baby boomer generation ages, the number of older adults with blood-based cancers is growing. For many of those patients, the best chance for a “cure” involves intensive treatments traditionally thought to be too harsh for people over age 65. Experts at the OSUCCC – James, however, say it is a patient’s overall “fitness” and biologic age—how the body has aged over time—that should guide treatment choices, not the age in calendar years. Research published by Ashley Rosko, MD, Christin Burd, PhD, and others is debunking the idea that age alone should be a limiting factor to treatment.

Read more and watch video »


Possible Marker Identified for Lung Cancer Chemotherapy
The activity level of a particular gene in lung tumors might identify lung cancer patients who will likely be helped by a particular chemotherapy regimen given to prevent recurrence after surgery. This finding comes from a study led by researchers at the OSUCCC – James and published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. The study examined the expression of a gene called SMARCA4/BRG1 in tumor cells from patients with earlier-stage non-small cell lung cancer. The researchers found that low SMARCA4 expression signals a poor prognosis but also a significant sensitivity to the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. Erica Hlavin Bell, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, was first author.

Read more »


Spring 2016 Edition of Frontiers
Read the spring issue of Frontiers magazine, a chronicle of cancer research and therapy at the OSUCCC – James. Highlights of this issue include:

  • The Oral Microbiome: OSUCCC – James researchers are studying interactions between the microbiome of the mouth and food-based phytochemicals in smokers and nonsmokers by establishing the role of oral bacteria in the formation of bioactive compounds from blackberries.
  • Progress Against Pancreatic Cancer: Ohio State’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program is leading several promising studies and clinical trials in pancreatic cancer.
  • HPV Vaccine: Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH, associate director for population sciences, offers expert commentary on what is being done to increase the use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for preventing certain cancers.

2015 OSUCCC – James Accomplishments Report
Read the 2015 OSUCCC – James Accomplishments Report that highlights OSUCCC – James achievements of the past calendar year, including peer-reviewed research studies that were published in scientific journals, large grants that our medical scientists received for cancer research, and some of our far-reaching and unique collaborations and educational initiatives.

  Upcoming OSUCCC – James Events

State-of-the-Art Endoscopic Surgery: A Hands-On Course

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center –
James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
Columbus, OH

  Featured Events/Presentations

Our physicians and researchers travel across the nation and around the world to present their expertise to their peers. In this issue we highlight a few conferences where our internationally-renowned skull base cancer team will be presenting.

Daniel Prevedello, MD
8th International Endoscopic Thyroidectomy Workshop
, Thailand
August 10-11

XXXI Brazilian Congress of Neurosurgery 2016 (CBN), Brazil
September 6–10

Ricardo Carrau, MD
Multiportal Approaches to the Skull Base: 1st International Hands-On Course, Austria
September 27–29

South African ENT Congress 2016, South Africa
October 8–10

16th Skull Base Course, Spain
November 8–11

  Patient Testimonials

Learn why Hanaa Ahmed chose to travel from Qatar to The James for her care.

Watch the video

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