James CCC Header Gray Genome Wheel 2017

Ohio State University Medical Center

Destination Medicine UpdateThe Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Winter Issue 2017   Inside This Issue:

Welcome to the 2nd issue of The Ohio State University 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 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.

Contact Destination Medicine

  Featured Events »
  National Leadership News »
  Key Grants, Awards & Honors »
  Prominent Studies »
  Publications »
  Patient Testimonials »
  Additional Disease Information »
  Visit cancer.osu.edu »
  Contact Us »
  Featued Events

The Destination Medicine Department at the OSUCCC – James and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC), represented by Milly Valverde and Meryem Nehaili, were invited by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia to attend the 86th Saudi National Day in Washington, DC. The event was held on September 23 and was an occasion to celebrate the continued relationship between the Saudi Health Mission and the OSUCCC – James and OSUWMC.

Milly Valverde with Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud Meryem Nehaili with Colonel Chafik Lahjouji
Milly Valverde, pictured with newly appointed ambassador, Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud Meryem Nehaili, pictured with Colonel Chafik Lahjouji, Defense, Military, Naval & Air Attaché of Morocco

Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS) Annual Meeting
“The annual meeting of the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS), the international multidisciplinary sarcoma professional organization, was held in November in Lisbon, Portugal. Several of the Ohio State sarcoma team members attended, including Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD (Surgical Oncology), James Chen, MD (Medical Oncology) and Thomas Scharschmidt, MD (Orthopedic Oncology). CTOS is unique in its international and multidisciplinary approach. It is the premier learning opportunity for sarcoma experts worldwide. There were specialists at the meeting from 22 countries.”

– Raphael Pollock, MD

Dr. Pollock’s Presentations in Portugal:

  • Pollock, RE: Do exosomal miRs underlie multi-centric patterns of recurrence in retroperitoneal liposarcoma? Connective Tissue Oncology Society annual meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, November 10, 2016
  • Pollock, RE: The consensus development process for surgery of the retroperitoneal sarcoma. Connective Tissue Oncology Society annual meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, November 10, 2016

U.S.-China Healthcare Cooperation Series Symposium and Reception
On Nov. 1, Weiqiang Zhao, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pathology at Ohio State and member of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program at the OSUCCC – James, was invited as a guest speaker and moderator at the China Healthcare Leadership conference in Chicago.  A delegation of 25 senior delegates from China, including administrators from national and provincial healthcare agencies and hospitals, was present to learn about the latest developments and project opportunities in the United States, as well as to establish public-private partnerships to expand access to healthcare. Zhao’s presentation on Precision Medicine in the Modern World was very well received. Milly Valverde from the Destination Medicine Department accompanied Dr. Zhao.

Dr. Zhao and Leocadai Zak Dr. Zhao and Mr. Li
Zhao with Leocadai Zak, director of U.S. Trade & Development Agency Zhao with Mr. Li, deputy director General Health and Family Planning Commission of Jilin Province

China Gateway and OSUCCC  James Destination Medicine Discussion Event on September 29, 2016China Gateway and OSUCCC – James Destination Medicine Discussion Event on September 29, 2016
The Destination Medicine Staff and Gateway representatives from China were joined by a few distinguished physicians and researchers from the OSUCCC – James who have strong ties with the Chinese medical community. The Destination Medicine department’s role was discussed in light of the growing opportunities in the Chinese medical markets.

  National Leadership News


John C. Byrd, MDThe OSUCCC – James will play a key leadership role in a groundbreaking, collaborative clinical trial for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Known as “Beat AML,” this trial represents unprecedented collaboration between top leukemia researchers and medical centers, non-profit organizations, pharmaceutical companies and a leading genomics information company to advance treatment for AML, a deadly disease that affects 20,000 Americans annually but has seen few treatment improvements in the past 40 years.

John C. Byrd, MD, Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State, where he also holds the D. Warren Brown Designated Chair in Leukemia Research and directs the Division of Hematology, serves as co-principal investigator and chief medical officer for the “Beat AML” trial. The local arm of the trial will be led by Alice Mims, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Hematology, and William Blum, MD, professor in the Division of Hematology and member of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James. “Beat AML” was announced on Oct. 17 by Vice President Joe Biden, along with many new Cancer Moonshot Initiative-inspired projects across industry, non-profit and government.

Read more and watch a video »



OSUCCC – James researchers recently received two grants—one from the Department of Defense (DOD) and one from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)—of more than $1 million each for separate studies in breast cancer and multiple myeloma. Here’s a brief look at both grants. 

Read more »



Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhDThe Ohio State University has announced an exclusive license agreement between the Ohio State Innovation Foundation (OSIF) and a startup therapeutics company to develop new drugs that inhibit an enzyme called PRMT5 as potential treatments for cancer and other unmet medical needs. In collaboration with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Drug Development Institute (DDI), a team of scientists will work to advance this PRMT5 therapeutic program toward preclinical drug development. Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhD, a member of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James, serves as lead investigator of the PRMT5 research team.

The DDI identifies promising anticancer agents discovered at Ohio State and advances them through the preclinical development process with a goal of partnering with the pharmaceutical industry, all to accelerate getting new therapies to cancer patients

Read more »

  Key Grants, Awards and Honors

Balveen Kaur, PhDThe National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded a five-year grant of just over $2 million to help an OSUCCC – James research team further its work to enhance viral therapy against deadly brain tumors. The team, led by principal investigator Balveen Kaur, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State and member of the Translational Therapeutics Program at the OSUCCC – James, will study the impact of an oncolytic (cancer-killing) virus carrying an anticancer protein on brain tumors known as gliomas.

“Despite decades of research, prognosis for patients suffering from malignant gliomas remains poor,” the team writes in its project abstract. “Oncolytic viral therapy is an experimental treatment that is being evaluated in clinical trials for efficacy against brain tumors.”


William Carson III, MDNovel drug treatments are being tested at Ohio State with the help of a $2.52 million grant supplement from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that supports the use of new compounds that have shown promise in early testing. William Carson III, MD, professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology at Ohio State and associate director for clinical research at the OSUCCC – James, received the grant for a project titled “UM1 Supplement for Early Therapeutic Trials With Phase 2 Intent.”

“This grant allows us to conduct clinical trials in cancer patients using novel drugs provided by the NCI,” Carson says. “We will participate and cooperate with other institutions as we conduct these studies in human volunteers.”

Read more »


Maura Gillison, MD, PhDMaura Gillison, MD, PhD, professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at Ohio State and member of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC – James, has been elected as a member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM) for her distinguished contributions to the fields of cancer biology, tumor virology and epidemiology.

Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the NAM addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine and related policy, and inspires positive actions across sectors. Gillison is among 70 newly elected regular members and nine newly elected international members announced by the NAM during its recent annual meeting. Election to the NAM, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. 

Gillison, who also holds the Jeg Coughlin Chair in Cancer Research, is a head and neck medical oncologist and molecular epidemiologist who was recruited to Ohio State in 2009 from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her lab team at the OSUCCC – James focuses on the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in head and neck malignancies. Her work ranges from cohort studies of oral HPV infection to genetic indicators of response to chemoradiotherapy

Read more »


Another 10 compelling cancer research studies have received funding from Pelotonia, an annual grassroots bicycle tour that has raised more than $130 million for cancer research at Ohio State since the event began in 2009.

Funding for these 10 projects comes from the OSUCCC – James’ Intramural Research Program (IRP), which receives extensive Pelotonia support. IRP funding can include Idea Grants, Community Partnership Awards, Clinical Trial Awards (protocol-specific research support), Bridge Awards, Junior Investigator Awards and others. The IRP awards go to teams of OSUCCC – James scientists who competitively propose groundbreaking studies that will generate data to help them compete later for larger grants from external sources such as the National Cancer Institute.

Read more »


Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPHPresident Barack Obama in June announced a number of appointments to key posts in his administration, including Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH, to the National Cancer Advisory Board. Paskett holds the Marion N. Rowley Chair in Cancer Research at Ohio State, where she also directs the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in the College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. In addition, she serves as associate director for population sciences and as leader of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC – James, all alongside her service as a professor of both Epidemiology and Public Health.


John C. Byrd, MDJohn C. Byrd, MD, a Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State, where he also directs the Division of Hematology and is a co-leader of the Leukemia Research Program, has been elected to a four-year term as a councilor for the American Society of Hematology (ASH)—the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders.

Byrd, who holds the D. Warren Brown Designated Chair in Leukemia Research at Ohio State, is one of four people elected to the ASH Executive Committee for terms that began the 2016 ASH Annual Meeting, held Dec. 3-6 in San Diego.

Byrd is principal investigator on several grants from the National Cancer Institute relating to his work in leukemia, which includes preclinical and clinical targeted therapy development in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). He also has research interests in molecular and immune pharmacology.

Read more »


Lanchun Lu, PhDThe American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) awarded Lanchun Lu, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Ohio State, the 2016 ASTRO Basic/Translational Senior Investigator Award for his innovative work on Endoscopic 3-D OCT-Guided Brachytherapy for Early Stage Pancreatic Cancers. Arnab Chakravarti, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, says Lu’s approach to treating pancreatic cancer “was judged to be one of the most innovative, impactful developments in radiation oncology internationally and was designated as a featured presentation at the 2016 ASTRO Annual Meeting in Boston in September.”


Susan Moffatt-Bruce, MD, PhD, MBASusan Moffatt-Bruce, MD, PhD, MBA, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, has been named to a one-year term as chair-elect and secretary on the board of directors for Essential Hospitals Institute, the research and quality arm of America’s Essential Hospitals. Moffatt-Bruce is a professor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Ohio State with specialty interests in end-stage lung disease, transplant outcomes and thoracic oncology. As a national leader in quality and safety, she joins other physician leaders from prominent academic medical centers and Safety Net hospitals from across the nation on the Essential Hospitals Institute board.

Read more »

  Prominent Studies

New research links specific inherited genetic differences (alterations) to an increased risk for eye (uveal) melanoma, a rare form of cancer arising from pigment cells that determine eye color. In this new study—co-authored by ophthalmologic pathologist and cancer geneticist Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, MD, PhD, of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program at the OSUCCC – James, and cancer geneticist Tomas Kirchhoff, PhD, of the Perlmutter Cancer Center of New York University School of Medicine—scientists report the first evidence of a strong association between genes linked to eye color and development of uveal melanoma. The research team reported its findings in the medical journal Scientific Reports.

Read more »


A study by OSUCCC – James researchers suggests that blocking an enzyme called PRMT5 in tumor cells could be a promising new strategy for the treatment of glioblastoma (GB), the most aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer. The study, published in the journal Oncogene, shows that knocking down PRMT5 (protein arginine methyltransferase 5) might force the cells into senescence and slow or stop tumor growth.

“Our findings show that inhibiting PRMT5 can affect both mature and immature tumor cells in glioblastoma, and they underscore the importance of developing PRMT5 inhibitors as a promising therapeutic approach for patients with these tumors,” says principal investigator and OSUCCC – James researcher Balveen Kaur, PhD, professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State.

Read more »


A new collaborative research program pairs oncologists who treat childhood and adult sarcomas with veterinarians who manage the same cancers in canine patients. The ultimate goal, says director Cheryl London, DVM, PhD, is to speed up the pace of translational research discoveries and new treatments for sarcoma, a diverse group of cancerous tumors that occur in soft tissue or bone.

Established this year by The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Comparative and Translational Oncology Signature Program is a partnership between the vet school and the OSUCCC – James that integrates nearly 40 scientists from the Ohio State colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Veterinary Medicine, along with researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The program addresses a significant challenge in the current clinical trials model: the lack of a close comparative testing model for translating drug discoveries to application in human cancer.

Read more »


Several hundred healthy volunteers who use tobacco products and a smaller group of non-smokers are needed for two clinical studies under way at the OSUCCC – James to evaluate the health effects of electronic cigarettes (known as “e-cigs” or “vaping”) and other tobacco products. “There is minimal data available regarding the direct health effects of e-cig use or vaping, but these products have gained rapid popularity among existing smokers and non-smokers alike, including young adults,” says Peter Shields, MD, deputy director of the OSUCCC and a thoracic oncologist at The James. “We are concerned that people assume these products have fewer negative health effects as compared with cigarettes and other tobacco products. The reality is that they are still a tobacco product and people are still inhaling potentially harmful chemicals.”

Read more »


Read this year's Pelotonia Special Edition of Frontiers, a chronicle of cancer research and therapy at the OSUCCC – James. Highlights of this issue include:

  • Financial Reviews of Pelotonia: A glimpse of the success of the annual grassroots bicycle tour that draws riders from around the world and raises millions of dollars for cancer research at Ohio State
  • Training the Next Generation: Profiles of three students at different levels of academic scholarship who have received Pelotonia Fellowships to support their cancer research in the labs of faculty mentors
  • Cultivating Innovation: A look at three teams of faculty scientists who have used Pelotonia Idea Grants to nurture original ideas in cancer research
  • Rider Profiles: Stories about three riders—a physician, a researcher and a cancer survivor—and why they choose to train for and participate in this event
  Patient Testimonials

At age 47, Nicaraguan Tito Molina suffered from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a leading cause of kidney failure in adults. Needing a kidney transplant to save his life, Molina traveled to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's Comprehensive Transplant Center for the procedure.

Watch Tito’s testimonial »

Learn more about OSUWMC’s kidney transplant program.

For more information on organ transplantation at Ohio State's Comprehensive Transplant Center, visit: wexnermedical.osu.edu/transplant.

  Additional Disease Information

The OSUCCC – James can facilitate a care plan for each patient in his or her preferred language. This includes:

International Second Opinions
For patients who cannot travel to Columbus, Ohio, Destination Medicine staff will coordinate second opinions through video or audio conference for the following areas:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiology & Heart Surgery
  • Neurology & Neurosurgery
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Orthopedics
  • Bariatrics
  • Plastics
© 2020 The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center –
James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
460 W. 10th Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43210

News & Media
Contact Us
Research & Education
Find a Clinical Trial
Referrals to Ohio State
Patient Support