Results tagged “GAP”

On March 16, faculty and staff of MD Anderson and Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplásicas (INEN), as well as representatives of the government of Peru, met in Lima to formally sign a sister institution (SI) agreement.

Administered by MD Anderson's Global Academic Programs (GAP), SI agreements are a concrete expression of MD Anderson's belief that an institution is a valuable partner in the fight against cancer, as well as a willingness to engage collaboratively to further the aims of helping patients and eradicating cancer. In INEN's case, the development of this partnership has been nearly four decades in the making.

INEN-Dubois-and-Vallejos-252x260 (2).JPG

When talking to major players in cancer care, especially leukemia, there is a name routinely referenced. For baseball fans it would be akin to speaking of Mantle, Ruth or DiMaggio, or to the physics crowd similar to discussing Planck, Feynman or Einstein. 

It takes a few discussions with prominent researchers before one realizes there are certain individuals who have had a comparable impact on the world of oncology. An impact, which throughout the remaining story of man will silently ripple, often imperceptible to those who would learn or benefit from it.

What brings together 100 graduate students, head of the Science and Technology Section for the European Union, science attachés from embassies including the United States', speakers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and senior industry leaders from Nestlé and MSD Pharmaceuticals to discuss research, cultural exchange and nascent business plans in biomedical science? The annual symposium of the University of Tokyo's Global Center of Excellence (COE) Center for Medical Systems Innovation (CMSI), that's what.

Global COEs are five-year programs awarded to top Japanese universities by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Similar to U.S. Program Project Grants (PO1s) and Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs), the COEs bring together cross-disciplinary research teams to tackle important problems in public health.

Lois Ramondetta's connections to the Middle East are personal and professional. With a husband from the region, she travels frequently to the area and has grown to know and love the people and culture. 

As a result of her personal attachment, she has started to focus on developing collaborative research and knowledge-sharing relationships with her oncologist peers in the Middle East.

Dr Ramondetta and Nuhad.JPGThis fondness for the area and history of interaction made Ramondetta a natural fit for the scientific committee coordinating the Women's Cancer Conference held in late January in Beirut, Lebanon.

Although physician-scientists from several countries attended, including The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria, the event was jointly organized by The Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUB), King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) in Amman, Jordan and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

For Ramondetta, the engagement was preceded by months of video conference calls and e-mail, but was well worth the effort.

"We had a wonderful time and everyone got so much out of the event," she says. "Our hosts were amazing, the discussions were lively and the conference should lead to even more collaboration."

As an associate professor and gynecologic oncologist at MD Anderson, Ramondetta, M.D., has been actively involved in research regarding endometrial and cervical cancer, quality of life issues for cancer patients, and the effect of socio-cultural-economic factors on patients and their care. She brought those interests, as well as a desire to better understand how treatment differs in various regions, to the recent meeting.

"One of the most interesting discussions in the conference was the final session," Ramondetta says. "Members from AUB and KHCC debated the pros and cons of the use of the HPV vaccine in the region."

To Ramondetta, the discussion illustrated that although the Middle East is predominantly a traditional and conservative region, physicians recognize the probability of change.

Physicians in the session debated the recognition of traditional values with the need for medicine to be proactive, as it addresses the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and the development of an HPV vaccine plan. Although the issue was in no way permanently decided, to Ramondetta, the fact that difficult items such as these were discussed was encouraging and beneficial. 

Also of interest to Ramondetta, and a regional difference that made planning the conference challenging, was the disparate way physicians in the Middle East and elsewhere treat gynecologic cancers. While gynecologic cancers are normally addressed by gynecologic oncologists throughout much of the Western world, in the Middle East, they are often initially treated by a general surgeon or benign gynecologist, followed by a medical oncologist. Ramondetta sees this as an area to encourage collaborative research and training.

"We know women who receive care from a gynecologic oncologist do better during and after treatment," she says. "It would be great to work together to train specialists in this area."

Ramondetta's future collaborative efforts include working with Geri LoBiondo-Wood, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Nursing at MD Anderson, and colleagues at KHCC to develop a cooperative research project studying quality of life for cancer patients and the effect of different cultures. 

LoBiondo-Wood, Ramondetta and members of nursing administration from KHCC hope to apply to MD Anderson's Global Academic Program's Sister Institution Network Fund for support and to continue to bolster their research efforts.

"The fact that both AUB and KHCC are sister institutions only increases our ability to work together," Ramondetta explains. "These relationships are going to lead to a lot of opportunities in the future."

In the photo
: Lois Ramondetta, M.D., and Ibrahim Nuhad, M.D., organizers of the Women's Cancer Conference.


My Oncology Dream is a new nationwide competition in Japan, among oncology professionals, for the opportunity to spend a year at MD Anderson. 

Candidates are selected based on their academic achievements, clinical track record and, above all, on their dream of improving cancer care in their hospital -- where they will likely return after the year is over. 

It is also a social movement. Visitors can see people posting their dreams directly to the Japanese: My Oncology Dream website.

The program was created by the Japan Cancer Society and the Oncology Education Project Association, both of which were represented at the Jan. 11 ceremony where Hiroko Masuda, M.D., was presented with the first My Oncology Dream award. 

Masuda is a graduate of Kochi University Medical School and completed her training at Okayama University Hospital, where she now practices as a surgical oncologist and performs research on triple-negative breast cancer. Her dream is to provide the best care for her patients through teamwork that will help bring cutting-edge clinical trials to her institution, when she returns after her year at MD Anderson.


The president of the Japanese Cancer Society, Tadao Kakizoe, M.D., congratulated Masuda on her achievements and selection, and JCS Chairman Shin-ichi Hakoshima, M.D., spoke about their vision of innovative programs to support networking and new approaches to cancer in Japan. 

The Oncology Education Project Association was represented by Naoto Ueno, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at MD Anderson and an innovator of several training programs in oncology in Japan. Ueno emphasized his dream of bringing multidisciplinary care and new trials to Japan, and saw the kind of connections that My Oncology Dream will build as essential to reaching this goal.

The event was also attended by Agnes Chan, Ph.D., who is an educator, a champion of the fight against cancer, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, as well as a novelist, pop singer and television personality. 

Chan gave closing remarks, praising the JCS and Oncology Education Project Association for their vision and encouraging everyone to continue the battle against cancer. She also encouraged Masuda to make use of her year in the United States to get to know its people and see some of its sights, so that when she returns to Japan she can be a good connection between the countries and their oncology communities.

Masuda will start her visit at MD Anderson in April and will be working with faculty in the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center.

In the photo (from left): Naoto Ueno, M.D., Ph.D.; Agnes Chan, Ph.D.; Hiroko Masuda, M.D.; and Oliver Bogler, Ph.D., at the Tokyo American Center where the My Oncology Dream award was given to Masuda.

These were Maha Kalaji's first words to a family friend physician the morning after she found a lump in her breast during a self-exam. A mammogram later, she was flying from her home in Amman, Jordan, to the United Kingdom, where she was raised, to consult with physicians. One of those physicians recommended The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for treatment.

With the help of two of her brothers who lived in Houston; she was at MD Anderson within a week. That was in 1993.

"I never associated having cancer with death," Kalaji explains. "I consider myself lucky. Cancer has changed my life, it's made me more realistic and more appreciative. Every day I wake up and am grateful for so many things."

Following chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation therapy for her breast cancer, MD Anderson physicians found cancer in her liver in 1999. Since then, Kalaji has alternated between hormone therapy and chemotherapy to combat the liver cancer. That is until 2009, when surgeons removed 60% of her liver in the hope that it would eliminate the cancer. It did not, and within four months the cancer had returned.

Kalaji continues to visit MD Anderson every three months for check-ups and expects to continue her alternating hormone therapy and chemotherapy for the foreseeable future.

But cancer is only a small piece of Kalaji's story. She continues to reside in Amman, where she is the protocol officer for the United States Embassy.

Sharing her journey
In addition to her role with the embassy, Kalaji has taken on the mantle of educator, most notably through the recent release of her book, "Journey of Confrontation." Currently the book is available in Arabic, with an English version slated for release some time this summer. One of her main objectives with the book is informing patients in the Middle East about what it is like to have cancer.

"I met women who were receiving chemotherapy at King Hussein Cancer Center who did not know why they were there, because their families did not tell them," Kalaji recounts. "I think knowing what is going to happen to you ... what the side effects of chemotherapy are and how it is going to affect you, is important."

Kalaji's book is a sort of chronicle of what it's like to be a cancer patient, taking the reader step by step through procedures and stages of treatment. MD Anderson plays a role in the book and in how Kalaji approaches her cancer. As does the fact that MD Anderson and King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman, which acts as her second hospital, are sister institutions -- a result of initiatives by MD Anderson's Global Academic Programs in the Center for Global Oncology.

Working together
"It's such a wonderful thing that MD Anderson and KHCC are sister institutions. Both my doctors see eye to eye and they negotiate my treatment before it takes place." An additional partnership Kalaji highlights as important is the International Center and representatives like Eliane Sayeghe, who visited Jordan for Kalaji's book launch and has been her liaison at MD Anderson for many years.

"I remember when I found out MD Anderson had an International Office. I remember thinking that I was in the right place," Kalaji recalls. "They just make life so easy for the patient. Whether I am having trouble with my schedule or contacting a nurse, they are available 24 hours a day to help."

Ultimately, Kalaji, who lost both parents to cancer, hopes her experience will help others understand cancer and the personal changes that occur with the disease. With her book already sold out in Jordan and a second printing ordered, she believes she is reaching people -- patients and non-patients alike. In the meantime, she remains an MD Anderson patient.

Audience at Maha book signing"MD Anderson gave me the confidence to write this book. The personal relationship I have with my doctor, the fact that MD Anderson encourages patients to participate in their treatment, that they are always presenting options, these things all gave me the confidence to write the book," Kalaji explains. "At MD Anderson, I don't feel like I am a number."

All proceeds from her book will benefit the King Hussein Cancer Center.

I recently attended an Academy of Cancer Experts (ACE) workshop on "Aligning Leadership for Tomorrow's Team Oncology" in Tokyo, and was impressed by the impact this program is having on a new generation of leaders in the cancer field.

ACE is a leadership training program that emphasizes team building, mentoring and career development, and has been active in Japan for the past four years. It's a partner program to the Japan Team Oncology Program, recently profiled in MD Anderson's Conquest magazine. Co-founded by Naoto Ueno M.D., Ph.D.,professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology (@teamoncology on Twitter), it has brought together upcoming stars among Japan's oncology professionals with a view to encouraging creative, group-focused approaches to the cancer problem. "The idea is to create the next generation of oncology leaders," Ueno says.

Several cohorts have gone through the program, developed and led by Janis Apted, associate vice president for faculty development at MD Anderson, and Larry Neiman, senior consultant at Executive Development Group L.L.C. At this workshop, participants from different years came together for further team building and to brainstorm on the programs future.

It was clear to me that a core leadership group had been crafted by this effort, with many members from our sister institutions -- Keio University and St. Luke's International Hospital of Tokyo, as well as the Japanese National Cancer Center. The group is poised to take an active role in its future, as it works on bringing its key insights to other institutions in Japan and perhaps beyond.

Neiman, who also coaches in MD Anderson's Faculty Leadership Academy, commented that he encountered the same issues in both venues. "Some of the problems are exactly the same," he says. The team building skills that are the focus of ACE "aren't skills that are being taught in medical school or graduate school," according to Apted, who underscored the unique value that this program adds.

Another ACE  co-founder, Hideyuki Saya, M.D., Ph.D., professor of gene regulation at Keio University, described the program as having a broad influence. "The people in ACE will instruct the next generation and then we can have a big wave in this country. That is our dream." 

He went on to outline his vision for a global impact of ACE, an initiative in which MD Anderson's Global Academic Programs will enthusiastically engage.

On Jan. 4, winners of the 2010 Outstanding Research Publication Awards were honored and presented their research at MD Anderson's Hickey Auditorium.

This year's winners, Chia-Hsin Chan, Ph.D. (below, second from right), and Chun-Ju Chang, Ph.D. (right image, center), are members of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology -- but that is not all they have in common. Remarkably, they were both in the same high school class in Taiwan.

Res.Pub.Awards-Dr.Chan.jpg"One day at MD Anderson I attended a journal club and there was my school friend, Chun-Ju -- it was totally unexpected," explained Chan. Chang added, "We didn't recognize each other right away -- it had been a few years since we had seen each other."

Although both attended Taiwan National University (TNU) after graduating from high school, they were at different campuses. Chan continued at TNU for her Ph.D. before joining the lab of Hui-Kuan Lin, Ph.D., at MD Anderson for post-doctoral studies. Chang, who was in the School of Pharmacy at TNU, moved first to UCLA for her Ph.D., and then joined Dr. Mien-Chie Hung's group at MD Anderson in 2010.

Chan won the 2010 Outstanding Research Publication Award supported by the Ernst W. Bertner Memorial Fund for her paper in the May 2010 issue of Nature Cell Biology, "Deciphering the transcription complex critical for RhoA gene expression and cancer metastasis."

Res.Pub.Awards-Dr.Chang.jpgChang won the 2010 Outstanding Research Publication Award supported by the Heath Memorial Fund for her paper, "EZH2 promotes expansion of breast tumor initiating cells through activation of RAF1-β-catenin signaling," accepted for publication by Cancer Cell.

Two Outstanding Research Publication awards are given annually to post-doctoral fellows who were first authors of high-impact papers that were published, or accepted for publication, in the preceding academic year.

The awards are managed by the Odyssey Program at MD Anderson, and the Odyssey Program's Advisory Committee makes the selection -- always a tough task as there are many competitive submissions. The awards are supported by the Ernst W. Bertner Memorial Fund and the Heath Memorial Fund, and we are grateful for their support.

This year, we interviewed the awardees about their backgrounds and their work. 

Chia-Hsin Chan, Ph.D., video interview on YouTube in English

We asked them about what it is like to do research at MD Anderson. One challenge that was discussed by Chan was finding the right mentor in such a large institution. To help with this challenge, the Center for Global Oncology recently deployed a tool called Research Profiles, where you can find our investigators by searching for key concepts.

You can find it here:

 Interviews of Chan and Chang are also available on YouKu in Chinese:
Chia-Hsin Chan, Ph.D.
Chun-Ju Chang, Ph.D. 

During a conference held Nov. 13-14 at MD Anderson's sister institution, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, it was evident that the desire to develop a better approach to cancer therapy is global. 

Speakers from MD Anderson, Harvard, Duke and CUHK, among others, explored the universal themes of teasing apart the complexities of the biology of cancer in order to allow doctors to pick the best therapy for each patient. Something that made this conference unique, in my experience, was the opening -- more on that later.
Faculty champions

The meeting was co-chaired by Professor Anthony Chan, director of the Hong Kong Cancer Institute & Sir Y.K. Pao Center for Cancer at CUHK, and Professor Alfred Yung, M.D., chair of MD Anderson's Department of Neuro-Oncology. They are the "faculty champions" of the MDACC-CUHK sister relationship. Having brought the two institutions together in 2008, we continue to make connections between our faculty to spark collaboration. One of the strongest interactions is between Dr. Vivian Lui of CUHK and Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Systems Biology at MD Anderson. Lui learned RPPA, a key systems technique, in Mills' lab and together they are exploring signaling in nasophayngeal carcinoma, which recently resulted in a paper in Oncogene.
Similar experiences among our sisters
Remarkable to me was the similarity of patient outcomes and approaches across several of the institutions in our Sister Institution Network. Many of our SIs in Asia were represented at the meeting, including Fudan University Cancer Hospital (Shanghai), Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital (Tianjing), Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center (Guangzhou) and China Medical University Hospital (Taichung). Presentations from Dr. Zhong-Pin Chen from Sun Yat-Sen University, Dr. Danny Chan from CUHK and Charles Conrad, M.D., from MD Anderson showed broadly equivalent responses to current glioma therapies, and underlined the need for better therapy and markers. Such similarities also emerged in discussions of lung cancer by various speakers, including presentations by Dr. Qinghua Zhou from Tianjin and Dr. Guo Liang Jiang, president of Fudan University Cancer Hospital.
Lion Dance
Accompanying the legendary hospitality of Hong Kong, graciously orchestrated by our host, Dr. Anthony Chan, was the most fun opening to a conference I've ever seen -- the Lion Dance. This traditional ritual promotes a long life and a good conference, and it started the meeting with energy and fun. I was honored to be asked to paint the eyes of the lion, which wakes it up at the beginning of the dance. As you can see, the lion got up close and personal with the front row and welcomed us to Hong Kong with some real flair.

Hmm ... perhaps our own conference services department could add this to the list of available entertainment options.

SCR2010-2.jpgThe Symposium on Cancer Research held recently at MD Anderson brought together internationally recognized scientists from academic, industry and regulatory agencies to describe and discuss state-of-the-art approaches to personalized cancer therapy and prevention. Symposium chairs were Waun Ki Hong, M.D., Stanley Hamilton, M.D., and Lajos Pusztai, M.D., D.Phil. 

More than 300 participants attended presentations and poster sessions, at which 12 awards were given. In a very dynamic set of lectures that engendered active discussion, the speakers covered systems approaches to discovering the best markers to guide therapy and emphasized new technologies that will revolutionize how we assess patient health and disease. 

Several cutting-edge examples of how personalized medicine is being brought to specific diseases, including breast and lung cancer, were presented in depth. The integration of this approach in MD Anderson's Phase I program was showcased, and new lab-based insights focusing on models and signal pathways also were discussed.

Important cautionary tales on the appropriate use of bioinformatics and conforming to regulatory requirements were included to help the audience understand the larger context in which these exciting developments are moving to the clinic.

Keynote lectures were given by Joe Gray, Ph.D. and Waun Ki Hong, MD. The Bertner Memorial Lecture was delivered by Carlo Croce, M.D., and the Heath Memorial Award by Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D. Michael Davies, M.D., Ph.D., won the Wilson Stone Award.

For more information on the program and awards, and to view the presentations, please visit The series also is available to watch or download on iTunesU

A research retreat was held Oct. 4-5 in Arizona. Teams from MD Anderson led by Oliver Bogler, Ph.D., vice president for Global Academic Programs, and Banner Health led by Bill Camp, chief executive officer, Banner Research Institute, participated in detailed discussions to formulate a research program for the new Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is scheduled to open in fall 2011.

On the first day the team from MD Anderson, including Aman Buzdar, M.D., vice president ad interim of Clinical Research, and Paul Papagni, executive director of Clinical Research, provided an overview of the current research program at Banner MD Anderson. Mark Starling M.D., medical director, Banner Heart Hospital, presented an overview of the research program in Cardiology and the concept of a Physicians' Advisory Council that has been adopted by Banner Health for selecting clinical trials. Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., described Banner's clinical research program in Neuroscience. The group was also given a tour of Banner Sun Health Research Institute, including its unique Brain and Total Body Donation Program, led by Joe Rogers, Ph.D., and Tom Beach, M.D., Ph.D.

The second day was dedicated to discussions regarding the vision for the clinical research program at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. The group articulated our joint vision to bring a patient experience to the center that is closely modeled on what we do in Houston. Buzdar stressed the need for establishing a sound research infrastructure to ensure the development of a successful program that would offer high quality clinical trials. Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., associate vice president of Global Academic Programs, stated "once the infrastructure has been established and clinical investigators identified, research projects could be started in a relatively short time." The retreat ended with a tour of Banner Gateway Medical Center, which would provide the inpatient facility for Banner MD Anderson, and the new adjoining cancer center building that is under construction and will house the outpatient facilities.


Banner Under Construction.JPG

UICC banner2.JPGMD Anderson was well represented at the International Union for Cancer Control (UCCI) World Cancer Congress held Aug. 17-21 in Shenzhen, China. The Congress was attended by 3,222 participants from 92 countries. Dr. Xishan Hao, president of MD Anderson sister institution Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, served as the leader of the congress. Several MD Anderson faculty including Wei Zhang, Ph.D., and Qingyi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., were among the speakers. 
Shenzhen.GAP.jpgThe conference included sessions focused on cancer prevention, cancer treatment, supportive and palliative care and tobacco control. 
While many of the topics are ones that are addressed at every biannual congress, one of the newer themes highlighted this year was the impact of diet, nutrition and exercise on cancer risk. The goal of the UICC is to reduce the global cancer burden by bringing together advocates, policy-makers, physicians, scientists and donor communities. The event also featured 61 exhibitors focused on cancer control.
The UICC has written a World Cancer Declaration outlining 11 specific targets that will help improve cancer control and the related priority actions needed to achieve those targets by 2020.

For the second year, MD Anderson has hosted graduate students from the University of Tokyo for two months of research. A lively, video-linked symposium marking the end of this year's visit was held Aug. 20. Participants included the students and MD Anderson faculty who hosted them, as well as faculty from the Schools of Engineering, Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Todai, short for Tokyo Daigaku as the University of Tokyo is also known. 

GAP_UTokyo2010.JPGThe program is run by the Center for Medical Systems Innovation (CMSI) at Todai. CMSI embodies a novel, cross-disciplinary approach to training and research on the boundary of medicine and engineering, with elements of social sciences and business rolled in.

I attended the CMSI Annual Meeting earlier this year and was impressed to see not only a wide range of innovative science and engineering projects, but also business plan presentations by the CMSI students. Equally creative, but thinking in a different way, the students identified needs and were proposing commercially viable solutions to them.

This year the students who visited us, and the research projects they worked on, were:

  • Yusuke Egashira, Mentor: Dr. Ritsuko Komaki, Radiation Oncology Treatment
    Experimental Evaluation of Dose Calculation Algorithms for Proton Therapy

  • Hitomi Hosoya, Mentor: Drs. Renata Pasqualini and Wadih Arap, Genitourinary Med Oncology-Research 
    Multi-platform, Ligand-Directed Delivery of Doxorubicin for Cancer Therapy
  • Mariko Ikuo, Mentor: Dr. George Calin, Experimental Therapeutics
    Plasma microRNA of Chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients

  • Hiroki Akiba, Mentor: Dr. Juri Gelovani, Experimental Diagnostic Imaging
    Construction of Reporter System for Monitoring HIF-1 Dimerization

  • Minghui Bai, Mentor: Dr. Oliver Bogler, Neurosurgery and Neuro-Oncology
    Importin beta1 and CRM1 are involved in nuclear cytoplasmic shuttling of EGFRvIII
  • Shinya Hirota, Mentor: Dr. Joseph McCarty, Cancer Biology
    alphaVbeta8 integrin-mediated TGFbeta activation and signaling is essential for angiogenesis in the neonatal retina

For the first time this year, two MD Anderson students, from the Pasqualini/Arap lab, traveled to Tokyo for the summer: 

  • Julianna Edwards, Mentor: Dr. Tatsuro Irimura, University of Tokyo
    Characterizing the mechanism of action of a mitogenic, lectin-like, synthetic polymer

  • Lawrence Bronk, Mentor: Dr. Kazunori Kataoka, University of Tokyo 
    ICG Encapsulating Micelle for Photodynamic Therapy and Photodynamic Diagnosis

MD Anderson graduate students interested in participating next summer, by applying to visit Tokyo, are encouraged to contact Gloria Da Roza in Global Academic Programs. 

The students who join this competitive CMSI program represent some of the best of the upcoming generation of scientists and innovators, and it is an honor for MD Anderson to be part of the CMSI exchange program. We hope that many of the CMSI-graduates will join us in our mission to fight cancer.


By: Shubhra Ghosh MD, CCRP, Project Manager, Global Academic Programs

A research retreat was held in Houston July 29-30 in which participants from Banner Health and MD Anderson discussed developing a research program at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, due to open in Phoenix next year.

The visitors from Banner had the opportunity to meet experts from MD Anderson who introduced them to different aspects of cancer research. Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., provost and executive vice president, talked about MD Anderson's mission to eliminate cancer within Texas and beyond by a seamless integration of research with clinical care and prevention. He mentioned that MD Anderson is using advanced educational and training programs and developing new technologies to enhance the level of cancer care.


GAP_Banner2010.JPGEric Reiman, M.D., chief scientific officer, Banner Research Institute, expressed great interest in developing a clinical research program at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center that would offer the best treatment options to patients coming to the new center. He wanted to know how MD Anderson works with its partners in this regard. Oliver Bogler, Ph.D., vice president for Global Academic Programs, presented an overview of the global network of MD Anderson partners that collaborate on research projects to make breakthroughs in the understanding of cancer and explore novel ways to treat it.


The significance of research-driven cancer care was highlighted in the presentations on various types of cancers. All speakers stated that the vast majority of clinicians in their departments were actively involved in research. Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., associate vice president for Global Academic Programs, Clinical Research, summed up the group's sentiment by stating that "in cancer, research-based care is the best care."


Bill Camp, chief executive officer for the Banner Research Institute, presented Banner's current research infrastructure and stated the importance of developing a fiscally viable research program at the new cancer center. The group discussed the challenges and investment required to set up the infrastructure in terms of personnel, policies and procedures, information technology, quality assurance and quality control, and oversight.

The plan made by the integrated team foresees starting with a focused deployment of clinical trials and research in selected specialties, to achieve early success, and then move aggressively to bring the new center up to speed with research closely tracking clinical development.

The retreat ended with an agreement to continue the dialogue. The next step is for MD Anderson to visit Banner.


GAP_Clinica_Alemana.jpgBy Karen V. Francis, Project Director, Global Academic Programs

Specialists from MD Anderson recently participated in a Uro-Oncology Update, which was jointly organized by our faculty and their colleagues at Clinica Alemana in Santiago, Chile.

Clinica Alemana is one of our three sister institutions located in South America. Since 2003 when our agreement was signed, Clinica Alemana faculty have continued to collaborate with their MD Anderson colleagues in the departments of Urology, Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology regarding novel treatments and technologies used in the fields of prostate, renal, bladder and testicular cancers.

MD Anderson faculty who participated in the symposium were Colin Dinney, M.D., Christopher Wood, M.D., John Davis, M.D., Ashish Kamat, M.D., Randall Millikan, M.D., Ph.D., and Deborah Kuban, M.D. George Thalmann, M.D., chair of Urology at the University Hospital of Bern in Switzerland, also participated.

A total of 166 attendees participated in the two-day course, with the majority being physicians. Other attendees were residents, fellows, interns, nurses and pharmacists. Most were from the metropolitan area of Santiago, with representation from almost all of the public and private hospitals and teaching universities. 

Dinney emphasized the multidisciplinary care of these cancers, which involves coordinating with urologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. He commented that "MD Anderson has a trusting and cultivated relationship with Clinica Alemana, which provides the opportunity for us to extend our expertise and discoveries in genitourinary oncology to benefit those living in Chile, and by doing so, extends our influence well beyond the boundaries of Texas and the United States."
More than 1,600 Chileans die each year from prostate cancer. Recent studies have shown that with an annual exam, that number can be reduced by 20% to 50%.

Mario Fernandez, M.D., a urologist at Clinica Alemana and director of the symposium, noted that courses like this are very helpful and practical from the clinical perspective, and that we must continue to recognize the importance of quality, evidence-based science in daily practice.

He added that it's equally relevant to coordinate a multidisciplinary team. In the end, the great benefit is realized by the patient.

The South American business magazine America Economia rated Latin American hospitals and clinics for the first time in their November 2009 issue, and two of our Sister Institutions were at the top:  Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, Sao Paulo, Brazil was #1 and Clinica Alemana, Santiago, Chile was #2 (Rankings - America Economia)

GAP_AERankings.JPGWith the help of the ministries of health of 10 countries, the magazine invited 180 clinics and hospitals from Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela to submit information for the rating. The top 20 are presented in the article. Each entity was evaluated in a range of categories, including hospital safety and control of patient risk, hospital-based infections, information transparency, patient satisfaction, availability of specialties, access to physicians, and activity of ethics committees.

In contrast to MD Anderson's model, many of the doctors are not full time employees of their clinic or hospital, but have privileges there. Interestingly, 91.4% of the doctors reported having a specialty, and about a third had a subspecialty. Many have had some training abroad. Overall, larger institutions did better in the rankings, offering a more complete range of services with a more consistent, high-standard of quality, and better ratios of medical staff to patients.

Dr. Claus Krebs, Medical Director of Clinica Alemana, was featured on the cover of the Chile edition. In an accompanying interview he emphasized that doctors have had to become aware of the limitations of modern health care economics. He said that almost $300 million had been invested in Clinica Alemana helping it focus on many of the important areas that this survey assessed, such as patient safety. When asked what he saw as key to running an exceptional clinic, he said that it was knowing what was central to the patient, being able to offer them the best options and collaborating with them in selecting the right choices.

Both Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein and Clinica Alemana are active Sister Institutions affiliated via the Center for Global Oncology's Global Academic Programs.  In addition to annual medical conferences organized with MD Anderson faculty, several joint research projects are being pursued. We congratulate our Sister Institutions on their excellent rankings!

The WIN Consortium is a new kind of organization - a network of research and medical institutes, universities and industry partners - coming together around personalized cancer therapy. It is a response to the need to make faster progress in fighting cancer, and the realization that we can only achieve this by working together.

On July 6, the partnering organizations (visit for a full list) gathered at the Palais de Congres in Paris and formally launched the WIN Consortium. MD Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D., was unanimously elected to chair the WIN Directorate, the executive group in the organization. 

Drs. Thomas Tursz and Vladimir Lazar from Institut Gustave Roussy were elected vice-chair and chief operating officer, respectively (see photo), with additional officers to follow. The newly elected chairs of the Scientific Advisory Board were this year's meeting organizers: Dr. Leroy Hood, head of the Systems Biology Institute, and Dr. Richard Schilsky, past president of ASCO.

GAP.WIN2010.jpgWIN's main goal is to address scientific questions about cancer in different populations across the globe. Founders participate with equal rights and duties, with the final shared aim of significantly improving the outcome for cancer patients.

The WIN objectives fall into the following areas:

1. To validate, harmonize and standardize tools allowing early diagnosis and individualized approaches for cancer treatment.

2. To initiate and conduct new types of clinical trials, based on assigning treatments that target the genetic and molecular abnormalities identified in an individual patient's cancer.

3. To generate shared tumor specimens and databases including all available clinical, imaging and biological characteristics of patients enrolled in such trials.

4. To assist investigators in raising the necessary funding to conduct such trials, through either grant applications in various countries or direct collaborations with pharmaceutical companies.

5. To promote research and education in personalized cancer therapy, primarily through an annual meeting in Paris.

The second annual meeting was held July 7-10 and featured a long list of prominent speakers from many of the WIN member organizations, covering a large spectrum of issues surrounding personalized cancer therapy. The conference closed with a follow-up business meeting, as the WIN Consortium got down to managing the first details of forming and starting to work on the big challenges ahead.




Connect on social media

Sign In