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Summer 2007

In this Issue

Feature: Cancer Immunotherapy

Spotlight: CHB

New Faces

More on Cores

News and Events

Grant Updates

Save the Date

Research Highlights


View the Archive

Feature Story

Cancer immunotherapy: Combining approaches to achieve checkmate

CTLA-4 antibody blockade evokes CD8+ cytotoxic T cells that destroy melanoma cells

Like a clever chess player, cancer has evolved strategies to escape capture by its opponent, the immune system--a coordinated network of specialized cells that normally protects the body against attacks from foreign invaders. "These strategies are quite effective at disarming or suppressing an immune response," says Glenn Dranoff, MD (DFCI), leader of the DF/HCC Cancer Immunology Program. But as research in the lab advances understanding of immune response pathways, investigators are gaining crucial insights into the mechanisms that regulate the antitumor response. Basic and clinical scientists in the program are collaborating across multiple DF/HCC institutions to translate these insights into immunotherapies in the clinic that will overcome tumor immune escape. [more]


Children's Hospital Boston: Pioneers in cancer research

Angiogenesis in Action

Since 1947, when Sidney Farber, MD, achieved the first remission of acute pediatric leukemia, Children's Hospital Boston has blazed the trail leading to higher survival rates for childhood cancers. Sixty years later, more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer will live to adulthood, due in large part to the collaboration of scientists and physicians on the frontiers of medicine at the world's largest pediatric research center.  [more]

New Faces


Since our last edition of eNews, the following members have assumed new DF/HCC leadership positions:

Daniel Cramer, MD, ScD (BWH), interim leader, Gynecologic Cancer Program
Karen Emmons, PhD (DFCI) co-leader, Cancer Disparities Program
Howard Koh, MD, MPH (HSPH), leader, Cancer Disparities Program


Twenty individuals from our seven member institutions have recently joined DF/HCC. Learn more about these scientists and their research interests.

More on Cores

The life of a drug

Cancer Pharmacology Core

Pharmacokinetic studies, or the study of how compounds are absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated in a higher organism, have become an integral part of the clinical development of new anticancer agents. The Cancer Pharmacology Core provides DF/HCC investigators with the expertise and resources to design and undertake PK studies in clinical trials and preclinical studies. The core can develop, validate, and implement previously developed analytical methods to measure drugs and their metabolites in biological fluids as well as modify or develop entirely new assays. The core also offers comprehensive analysis of pharmacokinetic data as an additional service. Contact Core Director Jeff Supko, PhD for more information.

News and Events

Jeffrey S. Flier named next dean of Harvard Medical School

Harvard President Drew Faust has announced Jeffrey S. Flier, the George C. Reisman Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will become the new dean of Harvard's Faculty of Medicine. A member of the HMS faculty since 1978, Flier has served for the past five years as chief academic officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he is also the Harvard faculty dean for academic programs.

Flier succeeds Joseph B. Martin, who stepped down as dean on June 30 after a decade of distinguished service. Barbara J. McNeil, the Ridley Watts Professor of Health Care Policy and Professor of Radiology, became acting dean on July 1 and will serve through the end of August.


ECHO lab provides new resource for DF/HCC members

Vish Viswanath and Karen Emmons in the ECHO Lab

The Health Communication Core has opened the Enhancing Communications for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Laboratory, a multimedia communications laboratory equipped with state-of-the-art computer technology. The ECHO Lab allows for testing of responses to a range of communication products, including printed materials, interactive technologies, video messages and materials, and web sites.  The ECHO Lab can also be used for interviews and focus groups. To learn more about how the ECHO Lab can help your research, contact Brad Kaiser, HCC Manager, at (617) 632-5078.


McGowan recruited to lead DF/HCC development office

Terence McGowan has joined DF/HCC as Director of Development. Prior to DF/HCC, Terry was the Director of Institutional Advancement at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, an independent non-profit medical research organization based in Watertown, Mass.  He brings the distinct advantage of already being familiar with DF/HCC and the Harvard Community, through his experience as the Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for several years.

Terry brings enormous skill and energy to his new position, which is focused on seeking philanthropic opportunities that will further the scientific creativity and extraordinary collaboration that sets DF/HCC apart.  He can be reached via e-mail at terence_mcgowan@dfci.harvard.edu or phone (617) 582-8755.


Vitamin D and Cancer

Vitamin D

On May 3, more than 50 basic, population, and clinical investigators from DF/HCC's seven member institutions came together for an evening symposium on the implications of Vitamin D and cancer. Held by the DF/HCC Scientific Council and hosted by Edward Giovannucci, MD, MPH, ScD, presenters at the event included Tomasz Beer, MD (Oregon Health Sciences University), J. Wesley Pike, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Michael B. Sporn, MD (Dartmouth College Medical School), and Armen Tashjian, Jr., MD (HSPH).


Bertagnolli named new BWH Chief of Surgical Oncology

BWH Chief of Surgery Michael J. Zinner, MD, has announced that as of July 1, Monica Bertagnolli, MD, will become the chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Under the leadership of Drs. J. Dirk Iglehart and Michael J. Zinner, the Division of Surgical Oncology has experienced a dramatic increase in clinical volume and scope, and in division leadership of both basic and clinical research. As a result of this increase, and reflecting his desire to spend more time in biological and laboratory-based research, Iglehart will become chief of the growing section on cancer biology. He will continue to lead BWH's training grant in Advanced Surgical Oncology and provide leadership for the DF/HCC Breast Cancer Program and SPORE.

Grant Updates


Just funded this month, the new DF/HCC Gastrointestinal Cancers SPORE will lead to greater cohesion in the Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program, spark new RO1, PO1, and DOD grants, foster innovative ideas in GI cancer research, and advance the careers of junior investigators. The DF/HCC Gastrointestinal Cancers SPORE will be led by Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH (DFCI), who serves as Principal Investigator, and Ronald DePinho, MD (DFCI) and Monica Bertagnolli, MD (BWH), who serve as co-Principal Investigators. There are five projects in the GI SPORE: [more]


DF/HCC awarded grants amid tight funding environment

Despite current funding constraints, the NIH continues to award funding to a number of DF/HCC research initiatives. Recently, these awards included one program project grant (P01) and one Specialized Center Grant (P50). For more details, click below.

P01: Molecular Pathogenesis of the Hamartoma Syndromes

PI: David Kwiatkowski

P50: Genomic Analysis of Network Perturbations in Human Disease

PI: Marc Vidal, PhD (DFCI)

Save the Date

2007 Student Presentations: CURE and Boston Latin School Science Mentorship Program

On Aug. 15-17, DF/HCC and DFCI invite all parents, advisors, and staff to attend the annual presentation of students' research projects for Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) & Boston Latin School Science Mentorship Program. These high-school and college students from underrepresented minority populations have devoted their summer to working in a lab and learning first-hand what cancer research is really like. Their presentations are a culmination of their research work. To learn more, contact Kiki Cooper or view the invitation (pdf).

DF/HCC Pipelines in Oncology

This series of seminars gives our pre-clinical and clinical investigators a chance to sit down with industry oncology program leaders and discuss promising projects and products in their portfolio. The following Pipeline events remain for 2007: September 20: Bayer, October 18: Merck, November 15: Exelixis, December 13: Genentech. For more information on the Pipelines series, contact Petra Loesch.

Stem Cell Summit

On Oct. 2-3, the Genetics Policy Institute, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and Burrill Life Science Media Group have joined together to produce The Stem Cell Summit. The event will gather a global community of stakeholders to learn what's new, share ideas, search for solutions and focus on advancing stem cell research from the bench to the bedside.

Click here for a full agenda (pdf) or visit the Stem Cell Summit website for more information.

DF/HCC eNews
Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
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