Cancer Currents for June 2011

News and Notes from Director Mark Israel, MD

Next year marks Norris Cotton Cancer Center's 40th year in operation. Created by visionary leaders and funded through legislation proposed and shepherded by Senator Cotton of New Hampshire, the Cancer Center has continually pushed the boundaries of science and treatment protocols to develop novel methods that have, over time, become standards of treatment.

The key to our continued success is to determine how the elements of this complex enterprise must be developed in response to population changes, evolutions in treatment, and developing science. Like cancer centers everywhere, we are faced with overwhelming challenges in cancer care, research, and education, and we have relied upon the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan to guide our decisions over the past five years.

Recently, leaders from across the Cancer Center have begun to work toward a new Strategic Plan for 2012, which will envision appropriate new goals and provide for their implementation. This planning group will investigate all aspects of our cancer enterprise and compare our current capabilities against demographic projections for northern New England, emerging trends in cancer science and education, and the opportunities and constraints resulting from the shifting priorities of national healthcare policy and the economy.

This month, each program leader will report on areas of strength and obstacles to improvement and on potential opportunities and areas for concern. Although we do not anticipate any surprises as themes emerge, we do feel that we have a crucial responsibility to look both broadly and specifically at all components of our Cancer Center as we chart a course for the future.

The resulting Strategic Plan will be our guide for directing the Cancer Center's present and future resources to achieve the highest benefit for our local communities, as well as for the nation and world at large. Our foundation is very strong, and achieving the desired changes identified through this planning process will enrich scientific discovery and the care we deliver, our educational mission, and the workplace environment. My sincere thanks go to all of you who work here every day, contributing your talents, skills, creativity, and time to our vital mission.

New Research Technology

Construction is underway on our Small-Animal Imaging Shared Resource, a significant addition to our research technology. Another one is the new 13-ton, 9.4T magnet that's here. Both of these impressive pieces of technology will help support important new research initiatives, and they will be highly useful for our researchers for many years to come.

Photo: Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Bob Gerlach, Associate Director for Administration and Scientific AffairsBringing the Cancer Cause to the Capital

Bob Gerlach, Associate Director for Administration and Scientific Affairs, was in Washington, DC, recently, where he met with New Hampshire's Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to discuss the importance of continued funding for the National Cancer Institute. This funding is of vital importance to the Cancer Center. Bob reports that Sen. Shaheen is very supportive of continued funding, particularly in its uses, especially for research, at the Cancer Center.

Our Two Mr. Fix-Its

Photo: Ryan Dougher and William DaughertyYou've probably seen our two new IT experts, Ryan Dougher and William Daugherty, busy on the eighth floor of the Rubin Building, solving and fixing computer and tech problems. They're very, very good indeed at what they do – and thank goodness for that! So often when we call IT to help us with a computer issue, we're frustrated and maybe even angry. But Ryan and William always bring a calm, let's-fix-this-together attitude, which is so very much appreciated. Thanks, guys.

The New Grad

Congratulations to Lydia Walker, administrative assistant to Associate Director Burt Eisenberg, MD, who graduated with her bachelor's degree in general studies from Franklin Pierce University on May 14. "With the kids out of the house, the time was finally right," she says. Lydia is a great example of the benefits of making education a life-long pursuit.

Dartmouth Professional Development Courses at the Cancer Center

The Human Resources department of Dartmouth College has been working with our administrative staff to bring certain professional development courses from the College over to the Cancer Center in the Rubin Building so employees do not have to spend extra time during the day commuting to the College for the classes. This has been an enormous benefit – several Cancer Center employees enjoyed the recent course on high-level professional performance taught by John Steidl, director of the College's Project Management Office. The courses taught here – usually in Room 852 (the board room) – are available to all College employees and, as space allows, DHMC employees. To see the list of available courses, go to the roster of professional development classes at the College website. If there's a course you're interested in but don't see listed, talk to Brenda Berube, our manager of administrative services.

Logo: FOCUS newsletter logoFOCUS Wants You!

If you've got an interest in writing, FOCUS has an interest in you. Our quarterly newsletter will be an online-only publication beginning in July, and editor Steve Bjerklie is looking for writers at the Cancer Center who are interested in becoming contributors. The new online format will broaden the scope of articles and the meaning of "newsletter" – we have the opportunity to use video and audio storytelling in addition to the written word. We also have the opportunity to get out from under the strict quarterly deadline that applied to the print editions of FOCUS; we can post new content about as frequently as we want to. Email Steve at for details.

Photo: Emily Bourque and Emily MartinTwo Remarkable Emilys

Two wonderful young women, each named Emily, visited the Cancer Center recently to talk about the foundation they established, Kids for the Cure, and to present gift bags for children with parents who have cancer. Emily Bourque and Emily Martin are seniors at Trinity High School in Manchester, NH, and they created Kids for the Cure as a project in their theology class. To date they've raised more than $3,000 and have distributed more than 200 of their colorful kits, which include age-appropriate games, books, and toys. Each Emily understands the need very well: both their mothers are breast cancer survivors. Go to the Cancer Center's Facebook page for more information. 

Never Too Late

For a holiday party! Hem-Onc held its annual staff "holiday" party on May 20 (as opposed to, say, December) and a great time was had by all. An island-Polynesian theme flavored the décor and food, and Marko the Magician tricked the eyes and minds with his sleight of hand. Shall we mention who wore a grass skirt, Sue Webber

Photo: Radiation Oncology staff enjoying their holiday party     Photo: Buffet at the Radiation Oncology holiday party 

Deadline Extension

A reminder: The Collaborative Research Grant project with UMass has extended its deadline to June 15. For more information and to apply:

Photo: Ronald Walters, MD, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterUpcoming in Grand Rounds

On June 2, Ronald Walters, MD, Associate Vice President for Medical Operations and Informatics and Medical Director of Managed Care Programs (among several other titles) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will lecture on "Quality Measure Reporting Under the Affordable Care Act" as part of Cancer Center Grand Rounds. Dr. Walters is a breast medical oncologist and is responsible for the professional aspects of Clinical Operations including Medical Informatics, the Tumor Registry, the Transfer Center, Managed Care Programs, Uncompensated Charity Care, Clinical Safety and Effectiveness, and the Physicians Network. He serves on multiple institutional committees striving for improvements in patient care, research, and support systems.

On June 9, Grand Rounds will feature presentations made by Cancer Center researchers at the ASCO conference, and on June 16 Karen Liby, PhD, and Konstantin Dragnev, MD, will fill the Grand Rounds hour with the presentations they made at the recent AACR meeting. On June 23, Benjamin Williams, PhD, will present "A Radical Approach to Guide Management of Therapeutic, Accidental, and Malicious Radiation Exposures: In Vivo EPR" at Grand Rounds.

If you can't be at Grand Rounds in person, don't forget that all Grand Rounds lectures are available as real-time and post-time webcasts. Go to the Live and Recorded Grand Rounds Lectures page for details.

—Mark Israel, MD