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From the Chair, Peter C. Hu, Ph.D.

119217_Hu_P_blog.jpgHello everyone!  As I near the end of my first term as the Chair of the Alumni & Faculty Association at MD Anderson Cancer Center, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the many activities we have sponsored over the past year. 

Our first activity was the fall cycle of the Trainee Excellence Awards in which eight trainees were recognized in the month of August for their high caliber research.  These eight trainees were amongst the many that entered.  Also around this time, we received a generous donation by the Mike Hogg Fund from which two students in the School of Health Professions each received a $1,000 scholarship. 

In addition to this donation, through our fundraising campaign, we received two additional gifts: one from Dr. Ed Diaz, VP, Global Clinical Programs and the other from Dr. Raymond Sawaya, Chair of Neurosurgery to help fund other scholarships and activities.

During the month of November, Dr. Elena Martinez was recognized with the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award.  Dr. Martinez gave a marvelous presentation on "Colorectal Cancer Prevention:  Opportunities for a Fruitful and Challenging Career" to a packed crowed in the Hickey Auditorium.  It was also during this time that the Alumni & Faculty Association unveiled the Alumni Tribute Display located on the 3rd floor of the Pickens Academic Tower.  This permanent wall display lists of the names of alumni donors and friends who have made a gift of $5,000 or more, along with a brief biography of the current Distinguished Alumnus Award winner.

In January, 2011, Dr. Mario R. Capecchi, who was the 2010 Mike Hogg award recipient, visited MD Anderson Cancer Center and delivered an inspirational lecture, not only to a packed Hickey Auditorium, but also to a packed overflow room.  The Mike Hogg Lectureship is the most prestigious at MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

When spring came, the Alumni & Faculty Association once again was busy with activities.  First, it was the spring announcement of the Trainee Excellence Award winners of which 4 trainee abstracts were chosen to receive this award.  Our second activity was the participation at this year's American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Orlando, FL where we hosted a recruitment booth, a general session booth, and a reception on behalf of MD Anderson.  All of these events were very well attended. 

In May, the annual Trainee Research Day was yet another smashing hit as over 250 research abstracts were submitted this year in all categories of trainees from undergraduate, graduates, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows.  Awards ranging from $100 to $1000 were given to winning abstracts and posters and were sponsored by AMGEN, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Bayer Health Care Pharmaceuticals, and the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association.

Heading into the summer months, in July, we held our annual Trainee Lecture that will hereafter be named the Stephen P. Tomasovic Trainee Lecture in recognition of his tireless efforts in education for all students and educational trainees at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
What started off for the Alumni & Faculty Association will end this fiscal year with the spring Trainee Excellence Awards.  The submission deadline has just passed and the next round of winners will be announced in August. 

We look forward to another productive year in 2011-2012 under the new leadership of Dr. Ronald DePinho and we extend a big "Thanks" to all of those individuals who have continuously supported the Alumni & Faculty Association throughout the years.

Message from the Chair, Peter C. Hu, PhD

119217_Hu_P_blog.jpgI am honored and looking forward to chairing the Alumni & Faculty Association at MD Anderson Cancer Center for the next three years.  I know I will have big shoes to fill after my predecessor, Dr. Elizabeth Bloom's accomplishments during her tenure on this committee.  My goals for the future of this association are:  maintaining a strong foundation; supporting current projects; and expanding the networking capacity of the association between local alumni and those around the world. Let me expand on this a little further.


One project we will begin to tackle in the near future is creating a standard operating procedure manual for two student related events, i.e. Trainee Research Day and Trainee Excellence Awards.  With the increase in numbers of yearly submissions, this manual will streamline the process for judge selection, judging criteria, and event preparations.  Depending on the success of these manuals, other Alumni & Faculty Association related functions may adopt a similar format.


This year, the recipient of the Mike Hogg award, Dr. Mario Capecchi, will be giving his lecture on Friday, January 14th, 2011.  I encourage all of you to attend this event, as last year's event resulted in an audience with standing room-only. I also urge you to encourage your trainees to submit their abstracts for the Trainee Excellence Award competition and the Trainee Research Day competition. 


One of the functions of the Alumni & Faculty Association is fundraising for education.  Funds generated are used for fellowships, research awards and scholarships. Recently, we received a generous donation and part of that was used to establish the Mike Hogg Undergraduate Scholarships wherein two students in the School of Health Professions are chosen for a $1,000.00 scholarship each.  This scholarship will continue through the 2011-2012 academic school year. 


Techno-savvy you say?  By the time you read this memo, the Alumni & Faculty Association will have rolled out their first Alumni blog.  Again, I look forward to my position as chairperson for the Alumni & Faculty Association and working with a great group of committee members in providing exemplary services for our Alumni, Faculty and Trainees.


New Chair elected

At the last steering committee meeting of the fiscal year, held on July 8th, 2010, Dr. Peter Hu was voted chair-elect, to become chair of the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association effective September 1, 2010.  Welcome, Peter.

Reflections on my Term as Chair

By Elizabeth Bloom, M.D.Dr. Bloom at Lin Acc-sm-cropped.jpg

As I approach the end of my term as chairperson of the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association, I reflect on the amazing changes I have seen at MD Anderson Cancer Center and in the Alumni & Faculty Association over my tenure. When I entered the position in September 2007, the Alumni & Faculty Association was developing an online directory of our alumni under the leadership of Dr. Toya Candelari. We now have over 15,000 individuals in our database, and continue to search for lost members and their contact information.

For the first time in 2007, our Annual Houston Alumni Dinner included a silent auction to raise funds for a local organization within the community. In the case of 2007, the Houston Food Bank joined us, and in 2008, the American Red Cross.

In September 2009 came Hurricane Ike and a declining economy. Spending was curtailed not only within our Alumni & Faculty Association, but also within our institution, the Houston area, and around the nation. However, with challenges comes innovation. We have seen the development of the Center for Global Oncology within MD Anderson Cancer Center. This has brought MD Anderson faculty, staff, knowledge and research to Regional Care Centers in the surrounding Houston area, other facilities within the United States and in foreign countries. Most recently, MD Anderson Cancer Center has partnered with American Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey bringing MD Anderson faculty and staff to run their radiation oncology department.

Following suit, the Alumni & Faculty Association has now developed an International Subcommittee with the goal to have international chapters within the Alumni & Faculty Association. This idea was first developed by our previous Alumni & Faculty Association chair, Dr. Joya Chandra. We now have a first international chapter in Turkey, led by Dr. Ugur Selek, Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Department Chief of the Radiation Treatment Center at American Hospital. This first chapter was able to be developed through the collaboration of Global Oncology, Physician Relations, the Alumni & Faculty Association, and MD Anderson alumni living in Turkey. We hope to develop and grow additional chapters at our sister institutions. The international collaboration among alumni and faculty of MD Anderson can further our institution's mission to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation and the world.

Another first came with the recipient of the Mike Hogg Award for 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. She was the first female to be presented with this award in its 50-year history. Earlier this year, she was received with a standing-room-only audience in the Hickey Auditorium and two overflow auditoriums, where her award and lecture were simulcast. Although selected for the Mike Hogg award prior to the news, she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her co-discovery of telomerase. She has done significant research investigating stress and its effect on telomerase and telomeres.

Throughout my term as chair, the Alumni & Faculty Association has maintained an emphasis on the support of educational trainees and students of both MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Our major fundraising is for education. The Education Fund supports several awards programs, which are a tradition at MD Anderson, such as the Trainee Excellence Awards, Trainee of the Quarter Awards and Trainee Research Day Awards. We have plans to fund undergraduate scholarships and fellowships for graduate trainees, as well. As always, we encourage contributions to this fund.

Alumni member donations will be acknowledged on a new display that is scheduled to be installed in the Pickens Academic Tower this summer. The display will also feature our Distinguished Alumnus Awardees.

I have enjoyed my term as chair of the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association. I look forward to my continued participation in this exciting time at MD Anderson, not only in Houston but around the world.