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Cancer Currents for April 2011

News and Notes from Director Mark Israel, MD

Photo: Director Mark Israel, MDSpring is in the air, with its sense of renewal and high energy, and I find myself thinking about the Cancer Center and recent examples of our tremendous strengths. In our clinics, teamwork is driving new quality and safety initiatives, and at the same time we are expanding our commitment to clinical research. Remarkably, the clinical staff has eked out time to plan and train for the launch of the hospital's new clinical information system, eD-H, on April 2, and the challenge has been tremendous. On the research side, we have just announced six new grants to fund innovative science through the ACS-IRG mechanism. Equally exciting, we have announced the inauguration of collaborative science pilot awards—a regional effort of UMass, UVM, and NCCC. Such awards spark new ideas among established researchers and foster achievement among young investigators, and it is wonderful to see the enthusiasm these awards engender. Truly, as the Cancer Center grows—in Lebanon and regionally—our distinction is powered by what I see as the universal impulse here to do the right thing, to take the extra steps, to strive for excellence. Thank you for all you do, each day.

Meanwhile, this month is filled with great news...

Cover of April issue of NH Magazine, showing Dr. Kari Rosenkranz on the coverKari on the Cover

Big congratulations go to Kari Rosenkranz, MD, who graces the cover of the April issue of New Hampshire Magazine, which is devoted to the publication's annual list of top doctors in the state. Kari, who heads the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program, beams from the cover in a terrific photo. She also joins several other Cancer Center MDs on the Top Doctors list, including Ira Byock, Richard Comi, Richard Rothstein, Alan Schned, Harold Manning, John Murray, Joseph Paydarfar, Leslie DeMars, David Roberts, Rocco Addante, M. Shane Chapman, and John Seigne. The list is compiled from nominations by doctors around the state, so this is a great endorsement of the terrific work being done by our clinicians and medical staff. Hats off to all of you! The April issue hasn't yet been published to the magazine's web site, but when it is, you can find it at www.nhmagazine.com

Patient and Family Support Services in the WSJ

Speaking of media appearances, Patient and Family Support Services received wonderful press about the Reiki program in the Wall Street Journal during the week of March 7. Deb Steele's quote in the article, "How it works is a mystery, but we see anecdotally the amount of delight," certainly captures what we know from working with patients who have cancer. The human touch, from caregivers of all sorts, is so critical to healing. Read the full article at online.wsj.com.

Confidence in Lean Six Sigma

Latin characters for Six SigmaAn intrepid group of 12 from the Cancer Center and DHMC, including members of the Radiation Oncology and Quality and Patient Safety programs, studied with three top-notch Thayer School professors for a full week learning the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt curriculum. I understand the professors really put our team through their paces with challenging statistics and evaluation tools that will be essential in putting Lean Six Sigma's program of reducing waste and variation in every system into effect. The week ended with a written test on the material, and the 12 students are still waiting for the test results—but they wait confidently!

New Involvement in Clinical Trials

Our group of NCCC clinics is connected in so many ways, with patients and staff moving constantly between sites to take advantage of treatment needs and opportunities. Nan Rollings, RN, MEd, CCRC, is committed to getting the teams in Keene and Manchester more involved in clinical trials. Involvement in trials is essential to our research and it is all of you who see patients clinically who make the connection between them and research trials.

Poster on dangers of cigarette toxinsReaching Community Employers with Our Message

Telisa Stewart, DPH, and Stephanie Beliveau met this month with two more of the dozens of employers who comprise the cohort in our community engagement with health education about cancer prevention. One director of human resources found herself in tears upon hearing about this program, in which the Cancer Center provides cancer prevention materials customized to each company. "I've been trying for years to have information about preventing cancer for my employees and I just didn't know how to do it," she said. "This really touches me, this is so important to us."

Photo of Hal Sox, MDWelcome Back, Hal Sox

Hal Sox, MD, former chair of medicine for D-H, has "retired" from his position as editor of Annals of Internal Medicine, and what this means for the Cancer Center is that Hal will be partnering with Lynn Butterly, MD, and Anna Tosteson, ScD, on a new grant. Look for exciting results from that dynamic trio!

Logo for the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) World ConferenceA Big Nine

The members of the Comprehensive Thoracic Oncology Program are really making their mark. The group sent nine abstracts to the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 14th World Conference on Lung Cancer—the greatest participation by the Program in this important conference in 10 years.

Speeding Up Clinical Trial Consent

An NCI Rapid Grant is in use at the Cancer Center to fund the development of strategies to speed up the time to opening a study. These days, most study consent forms are 20-30 pages, and a new protocol for consent will put us, as well as other cancer centers, in a position to implement new studies as quickly as the science permits. We are working with the IRB to develop a "plain language dictionary" for common medical terms to help PIs find common language that has been preapproved for conveying certain study information to potential patients. I know all of us who work so hard to get trials in motion will truly value an expedited process.

UVM Joins Our Collaboration with UMass-Amherst—Generous Funding!

An exciting pilot program to build regional collaboration between those doing cancer research is being set up to provide funding for investigators from the Cancer Center, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the University of Vermont. I encourage everyone to take a look at their websites and consider picking up the phone to talk to another researcher and consider collaboration. The deadline has been extended to May 15 and the funding is generous. For more information and to apply:

The eD-H Challenge

Logo: eD-HLast but certainly not least, I want to personally note that Saturday, April 2, is the day when the switch is flipped and eD-H will "go live," as they say. This overnight transfer to a total electronic health record system will be challenging in several ways, especially for clinicians. In fact, productivity from MDs is expected to drop by 50% for the two weeks following April 2 as everyone adjusts to the new system. I understand the strong feelings many of you have about eD-H and recognize the difficulties the new system may present. We will meet this challenge together.

Upcoming Meetings to Note
  • 4/13: New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration 6th Annual Meeting, with three presentations by members of the Cancer Center, in Concord
  • 4/26-27: Fourth Annual Integrated Biology Symposium, Alumni Hall, Dartmouth College, in Hanover
  • 4/28: American Cancer Society meeting at DHMC, in Lebanon
  • 4/29-30: Board of Advisors meeting at the Cancer Center, in Lebanon
—Mark Israel, MD