V i r g i n i a
C o m m o n w e a l t h S U M M E R
U n i v e r s i t y
Moving Massey Forward: Welcoming Dr. Steven Grossman
Educating Peers About Cancer Prevention 4
A $5 Million Celebration 8
Investments in Progress 10
Contents S U M M E R
Advance is published by VCU Massey Cancer Center, Office of Development and External Relations. Editor
Julie Dillon DESIGN
Literati Design C O N T R I B U TO R S
Fran Householder Jenny Owen John Wallace
P H OTO G R A P H Y
Cabay Fine Photography Fran Householder Allen Jones Tom Kojcsich CONTACTS
To contact the editor, subscribe to Momentum, our monthly e-newsletter, or for general questions about Massey, e-mail AskMassey@vcu.edu. To make contributions or inquire about ways to give, call (804) 828-1450 or visit www.massey.vcu.edu/givenow For cancer-related inquiries and free literature searches, contact our Patient Resource Libraries at (804) 828-8709.
1 Massey Researchers suggest ways oncologists can curb cancer costs
2 Dr. Steven Grossman
C O V E R S TO R Y
new division leader key to Masseyâ€™s future
4 Massey Alliance
6 Sparks of Discovery
funding and other research achievements
the latest Massey news
philanthropic funds help open new clinical trial
Secret Garden, Massey Challenge, 2011 Eagle Classic and more
8 Centerpieces 10 Investments in Progress
5 Phase I Trial Completed 12 Special Events
educating peers about cancer prevention
for new blood cancer therapy
To make an appointment, call (804) 828-5116 or (877) 4-MASSEY.
dvance is a publication for patients, friends, staff and supporters of VCU Massey Cancer Center, an internationally recognized center of research excellence. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, Massey is dedicated to saving and improving lives of those affected by cancer through innovative research and compassionate care.
Massey Researchers Suggest Ways Oncologists Can Curb Cancer Costs
here is no escaping the impor tance of the issue of rising health care costs. Cancer care in particular is a threat to our current health care system. New drugs are prolonging life, but at staggering costs. The U.S. will spend $173 billion annually on cancer care by the year 2020 — a trend that is unsustainable. In a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers Tom Smith, MD, and Bruce Hillner, MD, propose 10 changes medical oncologists can make when treating patients with incurable solid tumors to flatten costs, maintain or improve care and save money for future medical advances — a proposal that is certain to elevate the dialogue surrounding this critical national issue. We spoke to Smith and Hillner about their recommendations:
How did the cost of cancer care get so high?
Smith: Rising insurance costs, the rising number of those who need care who are not insured, the for-profit nature of our health care system that rewards for “more,” even when unproven, and an aging baby boomer population all play a big role. But the biggest factor is the cost of the new drugs — they can cost $3,000 – 6,000 for routine medications, all the way to more than $100,000 for some of the newer breakthrough drugs. If we are to afford these new treatments, we need to find ways to reduce inefficiencies in cancer care. We should leave curative care and clinical trials out of the discussion—they are too important and don’t cost that much. What changes do you think oncologists can make to help reduce the cost of care?
Smith: First, limiting surveillance testing to situations in which a benefit has been shown could save at least $1 billion per year. Much of our follow-up imaging is done for the patients’ peace
Tom Smith, MD, (left) is a nationally recognized oncologist and holds the Massey Endowed Chair in Palliative Care Research. Bruce Hillner, MD, is a professor and eminent scholar at the VCU School of Medicine and a member scientist at VCU Massey Cancer Center. of mind, but such imaging is really not effective in finding curable disease. Second, we need to reduce the use of combination therapies in most metastatic solid tumors. While they’ve been proven to work well in some blood cancers, research shows that in many cases people who get single agents instead of combinations of drugs live as long with less toxicity and less supportive care costs for side effects. White blood cell stimulating agents are also very expensive. These are used to boost patients’ immune systems prior to treatment, but the evidence shows that reducing the chemo dose and using prophylactic antibiotics can be just as effective. Hillner: Next — and this is perhaps the toughest for the doctor — we need to limit chemotherapy to patients with good performance status, in most cases. If a patient is so weakened by their cancer that they cannot walk into the clinic unaided or if their cancer has progressed after three chemotherapy regimens, then it is time to have a serious discussion about stopping chemotherapy unless the patient is eligible for a clinical trial. It has been proven that in these cases, drugs will generally do more harm than good, and it’s not recommended by our own cancer center guidelines. The hard
part about this is that it forces a doctorpatient discussion about a possible incurability of disease and end of life. Many believe that sort of honest discussion takes away hope and causes depression, but research shows the opposite. Nearly everyone wants to die peacefully at home, with their family. These discussions help patients transition to palliative care or hospice, and can prevent hospitalizations and toxicity resulting from aggressive end-of-life care. Smith: And there is no reason why you can’t pursue all the options within reason but still make plans. If your doctor is talking about DNA sequencing or a Phase I clinical trial, you should be thinking about advance medical directives at the same time. Aside from those tough conversations, why would oncologists resist your suggestions?
Smith: The oncology business model has evolved into one that rewards doctors for utilizing chemotherapy and ordering tests. It will take time and a shift to guideline-specific treatments to lessen demand in these areas. It will also take work with insurance companies to realign compensation to value cognitive care more highly than chemotherapy. How do your recommendations affect clinical trials?
Smith: None of these recommendations apply to care related to clinical trials or treatment that is known to be curative. Clinical trials are vital to making advances in cancer research and saving lives. Our proposal is meant to examine current practices for ways to reduce costs in order to maintain quality care for all our patients while continuing to advance medicine. Hillner: I agree. Clinical trials participation or at least consideration should increase if these recommendations are followed.
Summer 2011 • 1
Dr. Steven Grossman:
New Division Chair Brings Key Leadership to Massey recruiter told him that VCU had made cancer and Massey the top priority for the institution, his ears perked up. “Having spent a great deal of my education and early career at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where everything revolves around cancer, I’d had quite an adjustment when I joined UMass, where cancer is one of numerous disease areas of specialty,” said Grossman. “The idea of joining an institution on the cusp of such transformation and such university-wide focus on cancer was absolutely a dream.” He decided to learn more.
Collaboration for Progress
teven Grossman, MD, PhD, wasn’t looking for a new job. He was perfectly content in his position as medical director of the Simonds-Sinon Regional Cancer Center at UMass/ Memorial Health Alliance Hospital and co-director of the GI Cancer Program at the UMass/Memorial Cancer Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. But then a phone call came from a recruiter that he just couldn’t ignore.
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“I received a call saying that VCU Massey Cancer Center was looking for a chair for their Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care, which was interesting, but it was the rest of the story that really piqued my interest,” says Grossman. Grossman was familiar with VCU’s reputation for excellent scientific research, but was not as familiar with Massey Cancer Center. When the
Grossman was even more thrilled to have all that the recruiter had told him confirmed upon visiting VCU and meeting with cancer center, university and health system leaders. “Everyone I spoke with said that the number one research and clinical priority for VCU was Massey — it’s highly unusual for everyone to be speaking with the same voice on priorities for such a large institution,” says Grossman. “It was also extremely obvious that Massey was an incredibly collegial and exciting place to work. Those two factors combined made the opportunity very appealing.” Grossman was also eager to be a part of developing the research and clinical programs that would assist Massey in reaching its goal of attaining NCI Comprehensive status, for which his chairmanship is a critical position. As chair of the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care, Grossman will lead one of the largest divisions in the VCU Department of Internal Medicine and have a key role in defining the strategic vision and future of educational programs, research and clinical services related to oncology. Particular emphasis will be placed on expanding the menu of clinical trials, and fostering the movement of research from the lab to the patients’ bedsides through clinical trials.
To meet NCI criteria for comprehensive designation, Grossman’s team will need to nearly double in size, meaning he will join Massey prepared to recruit at least ten new faculty members, including clinicians specializing in solid tumors (lung, gastrointestinal, prostate, breast) and translational researchers. “The vision for both Massey and for NCI is to foster an environment where researchers and physicians across disciplines are collaborating — publishing together, writing grants together and truly making bigger and better discoveries by working together than would happen individually,” says Gordon D. Ginder, MD, director of Massey Cancer Center. “We have no doubt that our hematology-oncology team will be an excellent example of this philosophy under Steve’s leadership.”
Strengthening Research Aside from his leadership and clinical expertise, Grossman will also bring promising research with significant funding to Massey. He is an internationally recognized expert in gastrointestinal cancers (including liver and pancreatic cancers) and an award-winning scientist, with two grants from the National Institutes of Health and a prestigious Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society which both support his research that examines the role of tumor suppressor proteins in cancer. Building on this research, he is working toward developing a new way to treat pancreatic cancer. “Given my interest in cancers of the GI system, VCU was especially appealing because of the incredible organ transplant capabilities. That is a key benefit in studying liver cancer, in particular,” noted Grossman. “There has been enormous progress with GI cancers,” he continued. “Not too long ago, 95 percent of pancreatic cancers were unable to be successfully treated. Now there are numerous new drugs and clinical trials that have the potential to change that statistic dramatically — it’s an exciting time.”
“Philanthropy is the fuel on which our research operations run.”
A Community Connection One more key factor was instrumental in Grossman’s enthusiasm to join Massey — the generosity and warmth of the community that surrounds it. “What the philanthropic community has allowed Dr. Ginder to accomplish so far is absolutely enormous,” says Grossman, who will also hold the Dianne Nunnally Hoppes Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, made possible by members of the Moses D. Nunnally, Jr. family. “I know my mother would be thrilled Massey has been able to attract someone of Dr. Grossman’s caliber. Our gift was made in the same spirit as all those who have dedicated their lifelong work to cancer research — to save more lives. I know the addition of Dr. Grossman will help Massey do just that,” says Janet Deskevich, Massey Advisory Board member and Dianne Nunnally Hoppes’ daughter.
Grossman also noted the significant local and regional presence Massey has established as an important asset and resource. “In this economic climate, we can’t rely on grants to help us make the next big breakthrough. Philanthropy is the fuel on which our research operations run.” Grossman added: “It was clear from the moment I set foot in Richmond that Massey has a solid identity in this community. Everyone I met — from contractors to real estate agents to hotel employees — had a story about a positive experience at Massey Cancer Center. In fact, on my shuttle from the airport, I met a bone marrow transplant patient from Tennessee. He said to me, ‘When I was diagnosed, my doctor told me he could send me to Texas to MD Anderson or he could send me to Massey. I came to Massey.’ Let me tell you — that’s the kind of patient connection you’re looking for when you’re building a research program.”
Summer 2011 • 3
n MASSEY ALLIANCE
Educating Peers About Cancer Prevention
Massey Alliance volunteers are staffing a table at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market to educate the community about ways healthy lifestyle choices can impact cancer risk. (Clockwise from top left) Erin Gardner, Carl Sloppy, Brandyn Webster, Page McCarthy, Courtney Tkacz, Sarah Gravely. “Fighting cancer is a very personal issue for members of the Massey Alliance, and we determined that the most important message we could share with our fellow young adults is that the choices we make now can reduce our risk for cancer as we get older,” Courtney Tkacz, member, Massey Alliance
ourtney Tkacz knows a lot about breast cancer. When she was 23, her mother was diagnosed and successfully treated at Massey Cancer Center. Having such a personal experience with cancer motivated Tkacz to join the Massey Alliance in 2007 as a way to contribute to a cause close to her heart. At the time, the Massey Alliance was a 5-yearold junior board of VCU Massey Cancer Center, primarily focused on raising awareness and funds among Richmond’s young professionals. Over the last few years, members like Tkacz have sought to expand the Alliance’s mission and embrace an educational component relevant to the group’s peers — cancer prevention through healthy lifestyle choices. “There is so much need and so much great work being done at Massey,” said Tkacz. “But we really wanted to embrace a message that was critical and relevant to our peers—and the best way for young people to fight cancer is by developing habits now that keep their risk low as they age.” In early 2011, the Massey Alliance was presented with just the opportunity
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to bring this new education focus to the community. Representatives from the 17th Street Farmers’ Market invited the group to have a presence at the Market, which city leadership is hoping to use as a community forum to foster health and wellness. “With the 17th Street Farmers’ Market’s geographic proximity to Massey, and with both being such longstanding entities in the downtown community, it was a no-brainer to take the opportunity to be involved and reach more people with important information about how nutrition and exercise impact cancer risk,” said Matt Anderson, 2010-11 president of the Alliance. Tkacz joined forces with another Massey Alliance member, Michelle Logan, to spearhead a program to do just that. Logan is owner of Richmond Balance, Shockoe Bottom’s neighborhood gym, located just steps from the Market. Logan offered to conduct free fitness classes for the community every Saturday morning during market season, incorporating an emphasis on how exercise can contribute to cancer risk reduction. Tkacz worked with Massey administration and researchers to zero
in on appropriate information to share about nutrition. Together they recruited volunteers to be trained by Massey experts and dispatched to share information each week with the community. “One of the most critical roles our volunteers and supporters play is to be advocates in the community for Massey’s expertise. We are so proud of the role the Alliance has taken. They are inspiring young philanthropists who are actively making their community healthier, more knowledgeable and therefore more vibrant,” says Sue Acri, Massey’s executive director of development and external relations. In addition to the Farmers’ Market program, the Massey Alliance pledged funds to support Massey’s mission of reducing death and suffering from cancer through research. In 2009, the group committed to raising $300,000 over five years. So far, $130,000 has been raised toward that goal, primarily through two signature events: Moonlight Magic, a wine-tasting and dining event in June, and Massey on the River, a lively cele bration of summer’s end in September. Since its inception, the Massey Alliance continued on next page
Phase I Trial Completed for New Blood Cancer Therapy
assey clinical researchers have successfully completed a Phase I clinical trial evaluating a new combination of drugs in patients with certain blood cancers, paving the way for a Phase II clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the new therapy. Reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the study determined the maximum tolerated dose with acceptable side effects for this novel drug combination. The trial represented the first time a proteasome inhibitor (Bortezomib) was combined with a cell cycle inhibitor (Alvocidib) to treat patients with cancer. The trial included 16 patients who had either indolent (non-aggressive) non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma or multiple myeloma. After they received the treatments over a 21-day cycle, there were two complete responses, meaning that all detectable traces of the cancer were gone, and five partial responses. “Therapeutic responses tend to be rare in Phase I trials, but 44 percent of our patient sample responded to the therapy,” says Beata Holkova, MD, a Harrison scholar and hematologistoncologist at Massey and co-investigator on this clinical trial. “Because of the small patient sample size, we can’t draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of the therapy, but we were quite encouraged by the results.” “This is one of the first trials of its type in which two targeted agents which interfere with two very different biological processes are being combined to treat patients with blood cancers,” says co-investigator Steven Grant, MD, Olsson Chair in Oncology and associate director for translational research, co-program leader of Developmental Therapeutics and professor of internal medicine at VCU Massey.
Educating Peers continued
has donated $332,000 to Massey in support of pilot projects and unrestricted research funding, which allows funds to be directed where the need is greatest. “I’m so proud to be part of the Alliance,” says Anderson. “Over the years, a solid reputation for superior events and extraordinary passion for the cause has been built. We are making a difference in the fight against cancer— it’s an immensely rewarding and gratifying group to be involved with.” To learn more, visit www.massey.vcu. edu/alliance or contact Stephanie Jenks, assistant director of special events, at email@example.com or (804) 827-0642.
Massey’s clinical research team following patients on Phase I studies includes (left-right) Mary Beth Tombes, RN; Prithviraj Bose, MD; Ellen Shrader, clinical research associate; Steven Grant, MD; and Beata Holkova, MD. The researchers are now working with the National Cancer Institute to develop a Phase II clinical trial to test the effectiveness of this drug therapy. The trial will be conducted in collaboration with multiple institutions to compare the effectiveness of fixed doses of the drug combination in a larger patient population. Grant and Holkova collaborated with John Roberts, MD; E. Brent Perkins, MD; Viswanathan Ramakrishnan, PhD; Mary Beth Tombes, RN, MN; Ellen Shrader, RN; Martha Wellons, RN; Kevin Hogan, PhD; Sarah Kolla, MD; and Talreja Neha, all from VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU School of Medicine; as well as investigators from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine; H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute; University of South Carolina Department of Medicine; and the NCI.
Get Involved! Community Cancer Prevention Program at 17th Street Farmers’ Market
Free community exercise classes outside at the market every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. from May 7–September 10 presented by Richmond Balance, Shockoe Bottom’s neighborhood gym. Classes are announced weekly at www.facebook.com/massey alliance, and each incorporate information related to how fitness and an active lifestyle contribute to cancer risk reduction. Visit with Massey Alliance volunteers at their Cancer Prevention Education table every Saturday from 9:00 –11:00 for information about nutrition and cancer risk reduction. Moonlight Magic presented by Gilbane
A fun evening of great wine, food and music under the stars at James River Cellars each June. www.massey.vcu.edu/moonlight Massey on the River
An annual celebration of summer’s end on the banks of the James. Save the date for September 24 and visit www.masseyontheriver.org for updated information. Find the Massey Alliance on Facebook at www.facebook.com/masseyalliance
Summer 2011 • 5
Sparks of Discovery New Biomarker Predicts Breast Cancer Relapse
study led by Massey researcher Masoud Manjili, DVM, PhD, has resulted in the discovery of a new biomarker related to the body’s immune system that can predict a breast cancer patient’s risk of cancer recurrence. This breakthrough may lead to new genetic testing that further personalizes breast cancer care. The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first to use tumor infiltrating immune cells located at the site of the tumor to predict cancer recurrence. Using tissue samples from breast cancer patients, researchers found that a specific, five-gene signature related to tumor infiltrating immune cells can accurately predict relapse-free survival. Currently, there are two main tests used to predict the risk of relapse in breast cancer patients, the Oncotype DX panel and the MammaPrint panel. Both of these tests focus on genes that are mainly expressed by tumor cells. “Our test differs from currently used tests by looking for a biological response
to the presence of cancer and not relying on genes expressed by the actual cancer cells,” says Manjili. Tissue specimens were collected from female breast cancer patients and maintained in the VCU Massey Cancer Center Tissue and Data Acquisition and Analysis Core over the past seven years. The five-gene signature was found to predict relapse in these patients with more than 85 percent accuracy. Manjili and his team will next examine tissue samples from a larger patient sample to further validate the findings in this study. They also intend to test their findings in a long-term study of breast cancer patients undergoing treatment. “Our findings could lead to clinical trials that test whether using immunotherapy prior to conventional treatments in breast cancer patients with a high risk of relapse could prime the patient’s immune system, much like a vaccine, to prevent the likelihood of relapse,” says Manjili. Along with researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Manjili
Masoud Manjili, DVM, PhD collaborated on this study with Massey researchers Maciej Kmieciak, PhD; Rose Manjili; Michael O. Idowu, MD, MPh; Margaret Grimes, MD; Catherine Dumur, PhD; Viswanathan Ramakrishnan, PhD; Xiang-Yang Wang, PhD; and Harry D. Bear, MD, PhD.
New Combination Therapy Eradicates Prostate Cancer in Mice
Paul Fisher, PhD, MPh 6 • Advance
ancer researchers at Massey and the Virginia Institute of Molecular Medicine are a step closer to finding a cure for advanced prostate cancer after effectively combining an anti-cancer drug with a viral gene therapy in vivo (in living organisms) using novel ultrasound-targeted microbubble-destruction (UTMD) technology. Led by principle investigator Paul B. Fisher, PhD, MPh, Thelma Newmeyer Corman Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, the study showed that prostate cancer growth in mice with functioning immune systems was inhibited by sensitizing the cancer cells with the drug Sabutoclax (BI-97C1) and using UTMD technology to deliver a viral gene therapy that expresses the gene mda-7/IL-24. This powerful new approach to treating prostate cancer builds upon prior studies by Fisher. “This study not only identifies a potential new therapy for prostate cancer, it also provides a new way of using therapeutic viruses that could transform the way we deliver viral gene therapy,” says Fisher. “Although our studies focused on prostate cancer, in principle, they could be applied to many other cancers.” Fisher collaborated on this study with Xiang-Yang Wang, PhD; Paul Dent, PhD; Steven Grant, MD; and Devanand Sarkar, MBBS, PhD from VCU Massey Cancer Center; Rupesh Dash, PhD; Belal Azab, PhD student; Bridget A. Quinn MD/PhD student; Xuening Shen, MD; Swadesh K. Das, PhD; and Mohamed Rahmani, PhD, from VCU; and researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.
Discoveries in Mitochondria Open New Field of Cancer Research
assey researcher Shirley M. Taylor, PhD, has revealed novel mechanisms in mitochondria that have implications for cancer as well as many other age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and hypertension. This discovery has pioneered the formation of a whole new field within epigenetics research ripe with possibilities of developing future gene therapies to treat cancer and age-associated diseases. Taylor was a graduate student when her research helped establish the field of epigenetics (epigenetics refers to the process that controls which genes get expressed in the nucleus of a cell, ultimately determining that cell’s biological characteristics). Now, decades later, Taylor and her colleagues have further expanded the field of epigenetics into a new area of research they created by discovering enzymes in mitochondria that were previously known to exist only in nuclei.
Their study, recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that a mechanism of gene control, similar to that found in the nucleus, exists in mitochondria, which are the energy generators of the cell. Many diseases of the elderly are associated with loss of mitochondrial function; Taylor’s studies therefore potentially impact many different diseases associated with the aging process. Taylor collaborated on this study with Richard G. Moran, PhD, associate director for basic research at Massey. Other collaborators include doctoral students Lisa S. Shock, Prashant V. Thakkar and Erica J. Peterson from the VCU Department of Microbiology and Immunology. The study was partially funded by the National Cancer Institute and through a Massey Cancer Center pilot project award.
Discovery in Liver Cancer Cells Provides New Target for Drugs
esearchers at Massey and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) have discovered a novel mechanism in gene regulation that contributes to the development of a form of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently, there is virtually no effective treatment for HCC, and this breakthrough identifies a promising new target for therapeutic intervention. In the journal Hepatology, Devanand Sarkar, PhD, MBBS, Harrison Scholar, describes for the first time how RNAinduced silencing complex (RISC) contributes to the development of liver cancer. RISC is an important factor in post-transcrip tional gene regulation,
which occurs between transcription (where DNA is converted to RNA) and translation (where RNA is converted to protein). These processes regulate functions such as cellular growth, division and death. Sarkar and his team identified the proteins AEG-1 and SND1 as factors that increase RISC activity and lead to the development of liver cancer. For years, Sarkar has been studying the role of AEG-1 in cancer with his collaborator on this research, Paul B. Fisher, PhD, MPH, Thelma Newmeyer Corman Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. The study clearly identifies SND1 as a novel regulator of liver cancer. As SND1 is a molecule that can be inhibited by drugs, Sarkar’s findings open up a novel avenue for treating liver cancer by targeting SND1. In addition to Fisher, other collaborators on this study included Byoung Kwon Yoo, PhD; Prasanna K. Santhekadur, PhD; Rachel Gredler, BS; Dong Chen, MD; and Sujit
Devanand Sarkar, PhD, MBBS Bhutia, PhD, all from the VCU School of Medicine, as well as researchers from Mitchell Cancer Institute of the University of South Alabama and Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Summer 2011 • 7
Centerpieces Massey Listed in New U.S. News Ranking
M (Left-right) Delegate Betsy Carr, George Emerson, Ted Chandler, Governor Bob McDonnell, VCU President Michael Rao, Dr. Gordon Ginder, Dr. Sheldon Retchin and Delegate John Cox.
A $5 Million Celebration
overnor Bob McDonnell ceremonially presented a check representing $5 million in state appropriations for fiscal year 2012 to VCU Massey Cancer Center at a celebration event on May 24. The funding was approved by the General Assembly this winter when the body accepted the governor’s budget amendment to provide the additional resources for the center. The $5 million allo cation will help Massey to expand and strengthen its research as it works toward achieving National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive status, the highest level of distinction for a cancer center. Comprehensive status is critical for attracting top faculty to continue lifesaving clinical care and research.
Coyne Testifies Before Congressional Committee
epresenting the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), Massey’s Patrick Coyne, MSN, APN, FAAN, clinical director of the Thomas Palliative Care Program, testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade at a hearing related to restriction of access to prescription medications as a proposed measure to impact drug abuse and accidental prescription drug overdoses. The committee is specifically focusing on lax oversight of powerful pain reliever (such as oxycontin) distribution that results in misuse. Coyne testified on behalf of the broad patient and provider communities as a nurse specialist with more than 25 years of experience in pain management and symptom control, and represented the position that over-restriction of pain relievers could have severe negative impact on cancer treatment. While acknowledging that the problem of drug diversion must be addressed, Coyne expressed fears that patients in need of comfort during cancer treatment would be unduly harmed if over-arching legislation were to be enacted as a reaction. Overall, Coyne left the committee with this thought, “All discussions about the issue of opioid pain medications need a balanced exploration of the risks, but also the benefits.” Coyne advised that “limiting a pain medication, any pain medication, might take a very safe option away from countless patients living with moderate or severe pain. Education of prescribers is clearly needed to better assess pain and implement appropriate treatment options, but limiting options may ruin many individuals’ lives.” 8 • Advance
assey Cancer Center provides the only nationally ranked cancer care in Richmond, according to U.S. News & World Report. For the first time, U.S. News ranked the hospitals in America’s 52 largest metro politan areas. Ranking at the top of all 20 hospitals in the Richmond metro area is VCU Medical Center, which includes Massey’s oncology patient care. Cancer care at Massey was ranked 38th in the country in a previous U.S. News ranking.
Massey “Top Docs”
ichmond Magazine’s April issue included the publication’s annual listing of “Top Docs,” selected through a survey that asked Richmond-area physicians whom they would recommend in a range of specialties. Twenty-four Massey physicians appeared on the list, and several appeared in more than one category. New this year is recognition for the top nurse practitioner, and Massey’s Barton Bobb, FNP, ACHPN, of the Thomas Palliative Care Program, received that honor.
3rd Annual Oral Cavity, Head and Neck Cancers Screening a Success
assey’s third free screening event for oral cavity, head and neck cancers was held on May 12. Screenings were held in Nelson Clinic and Dalton Clinic, and, between the two locations, 75 participants were screened, a significant growth from last year’s event. The screening is a joint effort of Massey’s Dalton Clinic, Massey’s Head and Neck Cancer team, and the VCU Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery.
Awards & Funding Announcements
iang-Yang (Shawn) Wang, PhD, was recently awarded a $310,213 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support his research involving large stress proteins (LSPs) in immune regulation and cancer immunotherapy. Wang is a Harrison Scholar, member of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine and associate professor of Human and Molecular Genetics at the VCU School of Medicine. The NCI grant will fund Wang and his team as they investigate the immunologic effects and therapeutic potential of LSPs. Specifically, they will work to determine the mechanisms that allow or prevent LSPs from presenting tumor antigens, to understand how LSPs modify immune responses by interacting with molecules associated with specific pathogens, and also to evaluate the therapeutic activity of an improved vaccine utilizing LSPs loaded with tumor antigens, also known as a chaperone vaccine. Wang’s research has potential to facilitate the development of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Masayuki Nagahashi, MD, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, received an Excellence in Research Award from the Surgical Forum Committee of the American College of Surgeons for his translational research focusing on the role of sphingosine-1-phosphate in breast cancer progression. Dr. Nagahashi is under the mentorship of Dr. Kazuaki Takabe and Dr. Sarah Spiegel. Brian Cassel, PhD, a senior analyst at Massey, is the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright grant. Cassel will travel to London in early 2012 to collaborate with researchers for six months at the King’s College London Cicely Saunders Institute. Cassel’s research will measure the economic impact of end-of-life care in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, focusing on creating a new framework to identify the best approaches to measuring the outcomes of palliative care across the U.S. and U.K. health care systems. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
Massey Receives LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project Funding
hanks to the support of our community through an online voting process, VCU Massey Cancer Center was awarded Community Impact Project implementation funding from LIVESTRONG. This $3,000 grant will allow Massey to partner with Nueva Vida (“New Life”), a local nonprofit that provides support services to Latina cancer patients and families, to train 25 Promotores, or community health workers. These Promotores will work in Richmond and Petersburg communities to help Latina cancer patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, and help connect the patients and their families with physical, emotional and day-to-day support services.
Patient Services Spotlight Rejuvinate in Becky’s Garden
t’s a beautiful season to visit Becky’s Garden, Massey’s healing garden located behind the lobby of the Goodwin Research Laboratory. Becky’s Garden was carefully designed to provide comfort and beauty for those being treated for cancer. Volunteers serve refreshments to patients in the garden on the third Wednesday of every month.
LINC Representative On Site
he Legal Information Network for Cancer (LINC) is one of Massey’s most needed community partners, providing free legal and financial assistance for those undergoing cancer treatment. A representative from LINC is available to provide assistance with legal, employment and financial issues every Friday in the Linen-Powell Patient Resource Library, located next to the entrance to North Hospital.
Massey has a new online look!
Check out our new Web site at www.massey.vcu.edu. Summer 2011 • 9
Investments in Progress
(Left-right) Satya Rangarajan, COO of Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc.; Dr. Gordon Ginder, director of Massey Cancer Center; and grateful patient Jack Shook.
Spotlight on Generosity
assey continues to benefit from generosity in the community, which makes scientific progress possible. A few recent notable gifts include: Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Turbeville gave a $100,000 gift to support Massey’s space in the new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Medical Education Center and the Massey Advisory Board Director’s Research Fund for unrestricted gifts. Mr. and Mrs. Turbeville are steadfast supporters of and active volunteers for Massey. The Robins Foundation committed $40,000 to Massey to establish the Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins Jr. Clinical Trials Fund. The Robins Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives and opportunities of Virginians through grants to nonprofit organizations, favoring projects that bring people and resources together to meet a need and have a lasting impact.
10 • Advance
Health Diagnostics Laboratory presented Dr. Gordon Ginder with a $25,000 gift. HDL, Inc. is a two-yearold, rapidly growing company that performs diagnostic testing to screen people for current and future heart ailments. The company and its Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Satya Rangarajan, are committed to giving back to the community and contributing to health and wellness.
Annual Fund Supports Massey Where the Need is Greatest
ancer doesn’t take a day off. Every day, despite everything else going on in the world, our community and individual lives, people receive the news they have cancer, families battle with decisions about treatment, and, unfortunately, lives are lost. Luckily, more lives are being saved through the cutting-edge research and the highest quality of compassionate care found at Massey. Our physicianscientists and researchers are working tirelessly to bring new treatments and
options to people facing cancer. In order to continue the advancements being made, we need your help. We invite you to contribute to the Annual Fund, a very special group of loyal supporters who make unrestricted donations to support our research efforts. These funds are used at the director’s discretion and ensure that the most promising concepts are being pursued, and that progress is never delayed due to funding challenges. Every dollar counts and there is no minimum gift, but Annual Fund recognition levels begin at $100 and conclude with the Massey Club, our leadership annual giving society that recognizes gifts of $1,000 or more. Gifts can be mailed by submitting the enclosed envelope or can be made online by visiting www.massey.vcu.edu/GiveNow. To learn more about the Massey Club or other ways to give, contact Carrie Bickford, director of development systems and resources, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 827-0652. To learn more about the Annual Fund, contact James Wasilewski, assistant director of annual giving, at email@example.com or (804) 828-1466.
Phase I Radiation Trial Made Possible Through Philanthropy
assey will be testing groundbreaking new radiation technology in certain head and neck cancer patients through a Phase I trial that will be opened with the support of significant funding from philanthropic sources. Shiyu Song, MD, PhD, is leading the development and implementation of the new technology, called image-guided adaptive radiotherapy (IGART). During IGART, radiation treatment is “guided” by molecular tests such as PET scans that show the location of the tumor and normal organs at the time of treatment to better protect normal organs from harmful radiation beams. Phase I is the first step of the clinical trial process and generally tests the safety of a new treatment in patients for the first time. Phase I trials also determine safe doses. In the case of IGART, physician-researchers will determine the highest dosage patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinomas can tolerate. Studies involving new technology or new drugs are often quite costly. Two
On July 17, 2007, Dr. and Mrs. Charles and Marjorie Cooke donated a limited edition piece of inspirational artwork to the Department of Radiation Oncology and established the Melissa Lynn Rowley Memorial Fund to benefit head and neck cancer research. (Left-right) Kathi Judy, RN; Diane Holdford, RN, BSN, CCRC; Marjorie Cooke, Shiyu Song, MD, PhD; and Jill Heffernan, MD. Massey funds designated for head and neck cancer research supported this study: The Melissa Lynn Rowley Memorial Fund, which was established in 2007 by the friends and family of Melissa Rowley, and The Highlands Massey Fund, which supports head and neck and breast cancer research. Massey Advisory Board member George Emerson and a dedicated volunteer committee
chaired by Janice Radcliff have raised more than $1 million over the last five years from the Highlands-Massey Classic event to support The Highlands Massey Fund. Both funds were accessed in support of this trial, which will test IGART in 12 patients. For more information, contact Diane Holdford, RN, clinical research nurse, at (804) 828-0296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honoring a Memory
n lieu of a gift recognizing Suzanne Kelly’s retirement from Providence Middle School, her colleagues raised funds for Massey. Suzanne and her friends visited Massey in May to present a check to benefit breast and pancreatic cancer research. The gift was made in memory of Kelly’s husband and Dixie Leathers’ brother. (Left to right): Nancy Hodder; Dr. Sarah Mansfield; Suzanne Kelly; Sue Acri, Massey’s executive director of development and external relations; Jody Dunlap; Dixie Leathers.
Summer 2011 • 11
Massey’s Dr. Doug Arthur joined friends Frances and Kenny Krushelnisky at the Secret Garden Party.
2nd Annual Secret Garden Party
ore than 200 enthusiasts of Richmond’s most beloved downtown green spaces, gardens and historical sites enjoyed the 2nd Annual Secret Garden Party on May 12th. Massey Cancer Center was pleased to again have the opportunity to feature Becky’s Garden in full bloom. Guests were treated to lovely guitar music, a buffet of cancer
risk-reducing food and drinks and expert advice provided by Massey’s own Dr. Diane Baer Wilson, EdD, MS, RD and Doug Arthur, MD. Massey received rave reviews for our most enchanting healing garden and tasty food. Massey’s sincerest thanks to all who helped make the evening a success.
Lovern & Friends Golf Invitational
he 3rd Annual Lovern & Friends Golf Invitational took place at Stonehenge Golf & Country Club in Midlothian on May 16. The tournament was started in 2009 by a group of friends to honor Michael Lovern and his successful treatment at Massey Cancer Center for a spinal cord tumor. In addition to a great day of celebrating Michael’s recovery and playing golf, participants enjoyed a lively auction of autographed sports memorabilia and gifts. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $40,000 for Massey to contribute to the ongoing research and care of those affected by cancer. To learn more visit www.lovernandfriends.org. (At left) Event organizer and honoree Michael Lovern looks on while Kevin Mullaney putts.
12 • Advance
Save the Date!
Burns Ackerly (front) proudly walked the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k with her friends behind her every step of the way. Ackerly is undergoing treatment at Massey for a brain tumor.
2011 Eagle Classic
or the sixth year, VCU Massey Cancer Center was the official charity of the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by MARTIN’S. The 2011 Massey Challenge, sponsored by Anthem, engaged 1,700 10k participants in using their run or walk to raise funds for cancer research at Massey. Together, these participants raised more than $480,000. Out of 170 teams, the top fundraising efforts were: • St.ChristoCures, a team of students from St. Christopher’s School, with $32,669 raised. • 10k 4 RK, with $26,856 raised in honor of Ranjit Sen. • Bowling for Burns, with $25,416 raised in honor of Burns Ackerly. The top individual fundraisers were: • Harrison McVey, who raised $10,750 for St. ChristoCures. • Margaret Valentine, who raised $10,075 on behalf of 10k for RK. • Mark Gottwald, who raised $6,760 for St. ChristoCures.
The 2012 10k is scheduled for Saturday, March 31st. To learn more visit www.run4massey.org.
he planning committee for the Women & Wellness Forum Series, presented by the Jenkins Foundation, is pleased to announce that the 2012 keynote speaker will be Geralyn Lucas. Ms. Lucas, best known for her book Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, joins a long line of notable women who have taken the stage at this signature benefit for women’s cancer research hosted at The Jefferson. More information will be mailed soon. Inquiries about the event and supporting the efforts of this volunteer committee can be directed to Stephanie Jenks, assistant director of special events, at email@example.com. Please save the date for February 7, 2012, and check www. massey.vcu.edu/women&wellness for updates throughout the year.
Five-year-old Micah Wayland raised more than $2,600 in memory of his brother, Blake, who passed away from leukemia.
agle Companies and the LPGA Futures Tour have named VCU Massey Cancer Center as the official charity of the 2011 Eagle Classic. The Eagle Classic, sponsored by Richmond-based Eagle Companies, will take place August 12–14 at Richmond Country Club with a $100,000 purse. A “Party with the Pros” will occur on the evening of Tuesday, August 9th. Party guests will have the opportunity to mingle with LPGA Futures Tour professionals, local stand-out golfers and participants in the Pro-Am tournament. For more information or sponsorship inquiries, please contact Ashley Burton, director of special events, at (804) 828-0883. Summer 2011 • 13
Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center 401 College Street P.O. Box 980214 Richmond, Virginia 23298-0214
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Events Calendar August 9
Eagle Classic Golf Tournament “Party with the Pros” Richmond Country Club
August 20 –21
Ride For Jim Rally Finale Richmond to Yorktown www.rideforjim.org
Pink Ribbons of Hope Seven fall events supporting breast cancer research at Massey. See full schedule online. www.pinkribbonsofhope.org
Stonehenge Golf Tournament Stonehenge Golf & Country Club
Schwarzschild Jewelers & Cox Radio Event James River Cellars
September 21 & 22
The Highlands-Massey Classic Dinner & Auction Golf Tournament The Country Club at The Highlands www.highlandsmasseyclassic.org
Massey on the River Hosted by the Massey Alliance Rock Bottom Island www.masseyontheriver.org
Music for Massey Featuring The Waybacks and Jim Lauderdale Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Play Golf for Life Tournament Independence Golf Club
Saks Key to the Cure Saks Fifth Avenue at Stony Point Fashion Park www.saksfifthavenue.com
Breast Cancer’s a Witch! The Shops at 5807 Want more details on these and other events? Visit www.massey.vcu.edu/support or call (804) 827-9486. Follow Massey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MasseyCancerCenter