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Recently by Oliver Bogler, Ph.D.

Oliver Bogler survivors Week post (2) CW.JPGIt's been 259 days since my male breast cancer diagnosis. Since then, I've undergone 15 chemotherapy infusions, 35 doses of Zofran, 1.2 liters of drained fluid, 30 radiation treatments, dozens of clinic visits and countless needle sticks.

On my last radiation treatment, I celebrated by ringing the end of treatment bell, an MD Anderson tradition that allows patients to mark the end of a treatment phase.

I rang the bell with Irene, my wife and fellow breast cancer survivor, by my side. Also there were members of the great team that has been delivering my radiation therapy over the past six weeks and my friends from Riders for the Cure motorcycle club. To me, that's the best finish imaginable.

So how did it feel? Mostly, I was relieved at having successfully completed active treatment, with its physical and emotional challenges, not to mention the demands of fitting it into a busy work and family life.

Oliver Bogler, Ph.D.JPGThis past week I reached a major milestone in my male breast cancer treatment - my last chemo, certainly for now and hopefully forever.

It was only my fourth FAC -- the drug combo of 5-fluorouracil, adriamycin and cyclophosphamide, which is the second phase of my male breast cancer treatment, following 11 cycles of taxol.

It was the last step in the chemotherapy part of my 142-day, 15-treatment male breast cancer journey that has left me tired, hairless, with feet that manage to be numb and sore at the same time, with unsightly finger nails. Yet, above all, I'm very happy to be done.

I think the biggest, happiest surprise was that I managed to get through this without severe nausea and next to no vomiting. These were the classic symptoms that I feared, especially having seen my wife, Irene, struggle with them 5 years ago, when she battled the same disease with the same treatments.

my male breast cancer gave me a new appreciation for MD Anderson.JPGOliver Bogler, Ph.D., is senior vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of neurosurgery research at
MD Anderson. He was diagnosed with male breast cancer in Sept. 2012. Five years earlier, his wife, Irene Newsham, Ph.D., was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the second post in an ongoing series.


I'm about halfway through chemotherapy for my male breast cancer. These past few weeks have opened up an entirely new view for me on MD Anderson.

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I relocated to Houston to work at MD Anderson about eight years ago. And, although I got a view when Irene was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2007, it's not until I became a patient here that I really got to see how amazing this place is.

Wearing both an employee badge and a patient bracelet gives me a dual perspective. Moving through familiar areas of the institution on my way to a medical appointment, it's easy to forget that I'm not going to a meeting or seminar, but am instead about to change roles entirely by becoming a patient.

maninpinkone.JPGOliver Bogler, Ph.D., is senior vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of neurosurgery research at MD Anderson. He was diagnosed with male breast cancer in Sept. 2012. Five years earlier, his wife, Irene Newsham, Ph.D., was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the first post in an ongoing series.

When my wife, Irene Newsham, Ph.D., and I moved to Houston almost eight years ago to work at
MD Anderson, we had no idea how important a role it would play in our lives.

Of course, we realized it would be an important career move for us to join this top cancer center, and we jumped at the chance to join its brain tumor center research group. We also realized that close connections between the labs and the clinics, and the tremendous sense of mission and cooperation, make MD Anderson a special place to work.

But we had no idea that we would both be patients here as well, and experience that other, deeper, connection to the place and, more importantly, to the people that make MD Anderson what it is.


oncologydream.jpg

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.

MyOncologyDream.300.jpg

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.

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: http://www.researchprofiles.collexis.com/mdanderson/

 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 www.mdanderson.org/scr. The series also is available to watch or download on iTunesU

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.

 

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 WINconsortium.org 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.


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