Those of us at the University of Arizona Cancer Center would like to thank the fine folks at Becker's Hospital Review
for including us
in their list of great oncology programs.
On Feb. 22, Becker's released its list
of "100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs." According to Becker's, "[t]hese hospitals are on the cutting edge of cancer treatment, prevention and research, and the Becker's Hospital Review editorial team selected them based on clinical accolades, quality care and contributions to the field of oncology."Here is what Becker's had to say specifically about the UA Cancer Center:
"The University of Arizona Cancer Center was established in 1976 and has a staff of more than 300 physicians and scientists. It has 73 research labs, and its scientists are currently involved in more than 200 clinical trials. The center is one of six in the nation with a National Cancer Institute Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant for gastrointestinal cancers. University of Arizona Medical Center was also named one of America's Top Quality Hospitals in 2013 by CareChex."
How does Becker's compile its list? "These hospitals have been recognized for excellence in this specialty by reputable healthcare rating resources, including U.S. News & World Report, Thomson Reuters, the National Cancer Institute, the American College of Surgeons, the American Nurses Credentialing Center and CareChex. Each organization has demonstrated a focus on patient-centered cancer care and emphasis on continual innovation in treatments and services. Many of these organizations also have a place in the history of cancer prevention and research, as they've driven groundbreaking discoveries and made clinical milestones."Click here
to read the full list.
“If the PIKEs had not picked up the [CATWalk], the event would have been dropped.”
That's what legendary former Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson had to say
about the Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity and their efforts to keep the CATWalk alive.
The original CATWalk took place in 2001, shortly after Lute's wife, Bobbi, passed away from ovarian cancer. She was one of the campus's most beloved individuals, and the CATWalk turned into a way for the entire community to honor her.
The event was nearly called off last year, but the PIKEs stepped up and put on the 13th annual CATWalk on Dec. 1, raising $14,500 for the UA Cancer Center to go toward women's cancer research. The PIKEs present Olson with the check on Friday, Jan. 25.
Patrick Weber, a systems engineering junior and the new director of PIKE, is already planning the nextCATWalk.
“It is the most meaningful and enriching event I have ever participated in because the people I have met just through coordinating this, from Dr. [David] Alberts, the director of the Arizona Cancer Center, to Lute and Kelly Olson, to business owners, and to actual cancer survivor patients, you just see the passion these people have to fight this horrible disease,” Pfeiffer said.
The University of Arizona Cancer Center
has completed the initial steps of its search for a new director, identifying five candidates for campus visits and in-depth interviews.
Search committee chair and Cancer Center member Serrine Lau, PhD, a UA professor of pharmacology and toxicology and pharmaceutical sciences and director of the UA Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, stressed that the search is still “very open” and that the committee is still accepting applications, but that the five individuals on the “short list” are outstanding, highly qualified candidates.
The 13-member committee, which includes six UACC members, sifted through more than 100 nominations on Aug. 1, with help from the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. Thirty-five candidates completed applications. Out of that pool, the search committee selected 12 candidates for “airport interviews,” each of which lasted for roughly 75 minutes.
On July 30 and 31, the search committee conducted six airport interviews, followed by three more on Aug. 6. The committee finished the remaining three interviews on Aug. 24 and identified five candidates for first round of campus interviews. These visits will include meetings with the search committee, current director David Alberts, MD, and various members of University of Arizona and UA College of Medicine leadership.
Dr. Lau said she hopes to conclude these interviews by the middle of October.
Natalia Ignatenko, PhD
University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers and physicians have seen their names attached to some awfully exciting news these past few days. Here is a quick round-up of some of the latest noteworthy accomplishments:• Natalia Ignatenko, PhD
, has been awarded $1.6 million by the NIH National Cancer Institute to study the role of Kallikrein 6
in colon cancer.
Dr. Ignatenko, a Research Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University Of Arizona Cancer Center and College of Medicine, will generate data on KLK6 functions and enzymatic activity in colon cancer. It will evaluate KLK6 as a specific molecular marker for colon cancer progression, metastasis and targeted therapy.• Alison Stopeck, MD, spoke
to the US News and World Report
on behalf of new research that suggests that the new drug denosumab (or Xgeva) may be more effective to help treat advanced breast cancer patients and the ensuing bone-related complications than long-time osteoporosis drug zoledronic acid (Zometa).
"It's more effective at preventing bone destruction caused by breast cancer that has spread to the bone," Stopeck said. She was a contributing investigator on this study, which was published in the Aug. 14 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.It's still very early in the process, and many physicians still believe it's too early to rely solely on denosumab over zoledronic acid, but the initial research has been exciting to track.• Lisa Rimsza, MD, was part of a fascinating study regarding Burkitt's lymphoma, which was highlighted in the Aug. 12 edition of Nature. Rimsza, along with nearly four dozen fellow researchers, looked at potential theraputic ways to treat BL, as opposed to the intense chemotherapy that has often been used to treat the disease.The study's introduction states that, "
the toxicity of such therapy precludes its use in the elderly and in patients with endemic BL in developing countries, necessitating new strategies."Through genetic sequencing, the researchers studying the regulatory pathways in the disease that cooperate with what's called, "MYC
, the defining oncogene of this cancer." These findings suggest opportunities to improve therapy for patients with BL.
Sydney Salmon, MD
"He raised the bar for science."This is what current University of Arizona Cancer Center director David Alberts, MD, had to say to the Arizona Daily Star after Dr. Sydney Salmon's passing in 1999.Today, the Star remembers Sydney Salmon, MD, as part of its "100 days of science" series
, spotlighting his tremendous achievements in the field of cancer research.Salmon, the
UA Cancer Center's founding director in 1976, was the key figure behind some landmark cancer research breakthroughs, including his efforts to combat multiple myeloma and breast cancer. Salmon passed away at the age of 63 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
A.E. Araiza, Arizona Daily Star (photo)
In medical research and drug development, the biggest discoveries are often found in the most microscopic packages.
The Sanofi research center in Southern Arizona is among the best at searching for those needles (the potentially useful molecules that may have medical application) in the vast haystacks of scientific discovery.
In the July 24 edition of the Arizona Daily Star
, assistant business editor David Wichner wrote about the exciting possibilities
at the Sanofi research center in Oro Valley — a lab with significant ties to the University of Arizona, as well as the Cancer Center.
UACC founding director Sydney Salmon, former UACC member Kit Lam, and current UACC members Victor Hruby and Evan Hersh formed Selectide Corp. in 1990, which, according to Wichner, "was sold to Marion Merrill Dow in 1995 for $53 million, and through a series of sales and mergers became part of Sanofi in 2004." Sanofi is an enormous French-based multinational pharmaceutical company with more than a dozen potential drug launches set for the next few years.
In the near future, David Alberts, MD, will be handing over the keys to what he calls "the best job in the United States" — director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center.Dr. Alberts recently gave a wide-ranging interview with Eric T. Rosenthal of Oncology Times
, where he discussed his role in the search, his continuing research projects, the Cancer Center's plans to expand into the Phoenix area, his thoughts on health and fitness, and his theory that no director should ever stay in office for more than a decade.
“You can begin to lose your edge after 10 years," Dr. Alberts told Rosenthal, "and it’s best for a center to get new blood, new energy, new ideas, and a new direction.”Dr. Alberts, 72, joined the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1975 and became director of the Cancer Center in 2005.
He has authored or co-authored roughly 500 peer reviewed publications, more than 100 book chapters and 60 invited articles, and has served as editor and co-editor of six books.The interview was posted to the Oncology Times website on July 10,
and will appear in the Aug. 10 print publication.
Click "Read More" to see more highlights from the interview:
A team of University of Arizona physicians is collaborating with a medical team in Colombia
to facilitate the establishment of an effective multidisciplinary cutaneous oncology program and to initiate collaborative projects in the field of melanoma.
Representatives of the Colombian National Cancer Institute invited University of Arizona Cancer Center physician-scientists to a three-day conference in Bogota in April attended by about 100 clinicians and researchers to discuss ways to establish a multidisciplinary approach to improve the outcomes of patients treated for melanoma at their institution.
The UACC’s multidisciplinary disease-site clinics bring together a team of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and pathologists to focus on individual cancer cases to develop treatment plans.
Click the "read more" link to see a photo slideshow from the event.
The search for a director for the University of Arizona Cancer Center
is proceeding with 20 applications received, says search committee chair Serrine Lau, PhD, a UA professor of pharmacology and toxicology and pharmaceutical sciences and director of the UA Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center.
The 13-member committee, which includes six UACC members, is tasked with recruiting and interviewing candidates for the high-visibility UA position. UA College of Medicine Dean Steve Goldschmid, MD, will select the new director. The university is working with the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer to identify and screen candidates. Some 80 candidates with strong scientific research and administrative skills have been identified and “nominated” for review, although not all are expected to apply for the directorship position.
“We are very pleased thus far with the numbers,” Dr. Lau said.
Arijit Guha has been battling Stage IV colon cancer for nearly a year and a half.The 31-year-old doctoral student at Arizona State University
reached his lifetime cap of $300,000 on his student insurance plan in January and spent most of his spare time raising money in order to meet the costs of his escalating medical bills.Through his website, PoopStrong.org,
Guha managed to raise $50,000 through selling bracelets, buttons and t-shirts with his PoopStrong logo on them to continue his medical care, but that money wasn't nearly enough to keep him out of medical bankruptcy.So the Supreme Court's decision regarding the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
was going to have a direct impact on the quality and quantity of his care.How did Guha feel when he heard that the majority of the provisions would be upheld? Well, tired, for one thing. He was up until 3 a.m. the night before, too nervous to sleep in anticipation of this landmark decision.
“It is clearly a win for so many millions of Americans," Gupta told Stephanie Innes of the Arizona Daily Star
. "Many others have been denied insurance, maxed out on their plans and would have been in pretty dire straits had the ACA (Affordable Care Act) not passed.”