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Cancer Currents for March 2012

News and Notes from the Director
Photo: Mark Israel, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center

This has been a busy month, and the confluence of the NH State Legislature considering special dispensation to attract a for-profit cancer center and our planning for Norris Cotton Cancer Center's 40th anniversary has been the occasion for much reflection. Though we know what we are about, being able to articulate it to others is critically important.

There is much guidance in the simple D-H mission statement: "The best care at the right time, in the right place, every time."

Cancer doesn't discriminate, and how we operate our cancer treatment practice is based on this fact. It has driven our expansion to outreach locations from the border with Massachusetts to the border with Canada. Our commitment is to bringing top-level cancer care to people near their own homes, where they can be assisted through their treatment by their trusted family and friends. Dr. Marc Gautier, who manages our regional practices and has treated patients in every one of our 17 clinics, told a story this week that is emblematic of exactly what treatment "close to home" is all about. An adult son was supporting his dad through an extensive series of treatments. The son drove his dad back and forth to his appointments, and the time together in the car, driving over old familiar roads and past long-recognized landmarks, gave both father and son the opportunity to reminisce and reaffirm all that their family had been and done.

The choice of where to go for treatment should be the patient's. The choice of which treatment to use is a decision made by the patient and family in consultation with the provider. Together they select—as the mission statement says—"the right care." At our Cancer Center we make this decision without consideration of the patient's ability to pay. From Marie Bakitas' research that has changed the standards of palliative care to Jeannine Mills' nutrition team, the Cancer Center's plan is to treat every patient as a whole person with a unique personality, history, and experiences. The course of treatment for cancer is often long and arduous, and the health of our patients is measured not only by diminished disease but quality of life as well.

So the mission statement that sounds simple is actually a profound affirmation of our long-term commitment to care for all the people in New Hampshire and Vermont who need us.

Mark Israel, Director



Cancer Registry Renewal

Congratulations to all concerned who wrote and supported the Cancer Center's application to manage the New Hampshire Cancer Registry for another four-year period. The state's Bureau of Public Health Statistics and Informatics approved our application! This is tremendous news for a comprehensive cancer center such as ours.

Prouty Pilot Research Funding

Photo: Blood samples being used in researchFunding awards from Prouty Pilot funds have been made to a dozen new exciting research studies. Prouty Pilot funding has resulted in exponentially expanded funding for research here at the Cancer Center, so there's much to be excited about regarding the following research projects:

  • Sensing the Local Concentration of Chemical Biomarkers in vivo Using Implantable Microscopic Constructs (Weaver, Gimi)
  • Anti-PV1 therapy for melanoma (Stan, Turk)
  • Therapeutic Targeting of Tankyrase Activity to Inhibit Wnt Signaling in Cancer (Ahmed, Freemantle)
  • A Randomized Phase II Study of the Effect of a Low Calorie Diet on Patients Undergoing Liver Resection (Barth, Shah, DiCarlo, Kinlaw, Suriawinatal, Axelrod, Mills, Tosteson)
  • Cancer Patients in the Physician Group Practice Demonstration: Implications for Accountable Care Organizations (Colla, Fisher, Hourdequin)
  • MicroRNA Expression in Patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes Treated with Hypomethylating Drugs (Ornstein, Pries, Tsongalis)
  • Pharmacology and Phospholipidomic Signatures of CLA in Mouse Breast Cancer Models with Genetic Defects (Kinlaw)
  • Statistical Methods for Joint Survival and Longitudinal Quality of Life Analysis in Palliative Care Studies (Li, Tosteson, Bakitas)
  • Preliminary Investigation of Bisphosphonates and Esophageal Cancer: A Medicare Pharmacoepidemiologic Study (Morden, Liu)
  • Multi-Spectral Optical Imaging for Brain Tumor Resection (Paulsen, Roberts, Valdes)
  • Development of Immune Memory Against Melanoma Associated with Attenuated T. Gondii (Fiering)
  • Pre-Clinical Development of Novel Drug Combinations for the Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (Eastman, Danilov)
Participants Needed for March 8-9 EPR Screening

Photo: Hal Schwarz and teamParticipants are needed for a fast, easy test run of a dosimeter invented by radiologist Harold Swartz, MD, PhD, MSPH, to detect levels of radiation in teeth. The current focus of Hal's EPR research is on helping in situations, such as nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks, where people may have been exposed to radiation but don't know their level of exposure. As the next phase in their work, Hal and his team are looking for volunteers to participate in EPR screenings. "Fighting Back 'Tooth and Nail': Remembering Japan's Nuclear Power Plant Accident" will be held in the South Mall of DHMC, near the main entrance, on Thursday and Friday, March 8-9, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. For more information on volunteering, contact Mary Ann Greene at (603) 650-1619 or Mary.Ann.Greene@Dartmouth.edu, or visit www.dartmouth.edu/~eprctr/.

Welcome Jennifer Anne Doherty, MS, PhD

Photo: Jennifer DohertyA new member of the Cancer Center is Jennifer Anne Doherty, MS, PhD, who recently joined the Dartmouth Medical School faculty in Biostatistics and Epidemiology. She is also an affiliate instructor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Prior to her current appointments, Jennifer was a senior staff scientist in Epidemiology at Fred Hutchinson and an affiliate instructor in Epidemiology at the University of Washington. Her research has focused on hormonal carcinogenesis and genetic and molecular epidemiology of endometrial, ovarian, and lung cancers, and she brings with her a newly-funded R01 to investigate whether global and chromosome-specific telomere length measured prior to diagnosis, and variation in telomere maintenance genes, are associated with lung cancer risk and survival.

Say hello to Jennifer when you have a chance.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Logo: American Cancer Society (ACS)Support from the American Cancer Society (ACS) is available for the training of researchers who have received a doctoral degree to provide initial funding leading to an independent career in cancer research (including basic, preclinical, clinical, cancer control, psychosocial, behavioral, epidemiology, health services, and health policy research). Awards may be for three years with progressive stipends of $44,000; $46,000; and $48,000 per year, plus a $4,000 per year fellowship allowance. Depending on availability of special endowment funds, ACS annually selects one or more of the top-ranked fellowships to be supplemented above the standard stipend. During the second or third year of the award, ACS Postdoctoral Fellows will be invited to attend a Fellows Symposium to present their work, meet with senior leaders in cancer research, and develop additional professional skills important in their transition to independent research careers. For more information see the "Postdoctoral Fellowships" page on the ACS website.

Photo: New blood donor websiteNew eDonor System for Blood Donations

The new D-H eDonor website is now live at www.dhmcdonor.org, making it easy to schedule a blood donation online. Please take advantage of this efficient and smooth scheduling system: our medical center is always in need of more blood donations, and here at the Cancer Center we are quite familiar with the need for blood for surgeries and other procedures. The eDonor system is set up to provide automatic email reminders to regular donors so you don't have to worry about making a note on your calendar weeks in advance.

Upcoming Events to Note…
Patient Safety Awareness Fair, March 6

National Patient Safety Awareness Week is March 4-10, 2012, and there are many activities being planned for the week at D-H, including the Patient Safety Awareness Fair scheduled for Tuesday, March 6. Don't miss the displays that Evelyn Schlosser and her team from the Cancer Center's Quality & Patient Safety Program will be showcasing, including posters describing the many programs and efforts at the Cancer Center to bring an even greater level of efficiency and effectiveness to patient safety and treatment.

When: Tuesday, March 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Auditoriums A-D, DHMC, Lebanon, NH

Hematology Oncology Mini-Course, March 5-20

While online registration is currently closed for this course, space is still available. If you would like to attend please register on site. The Hematology Oncology Mini-Course will provide a comprehensive overview of cancer and its treatment in the adult population. For more information, visit the Continuing Education for Professionals website.

Life Sciences Shared Resource Fair, March 28

This year's Norris Cotton Cancer Center Life Sciences Shared Resource Fair will highlight inhouse expertise and promote access to high-end equipment and processes for Cancer Center and Dartmouth investigators. Posters illustrating the contributions of Shared Resources to ongoing research will be presented, and Shared Resources directors and resource personnel will be available for questions and discussion. In addition to a morning seminar and an afternoon workshop there will be guided tours of the Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Immune Monitoring-Flow Cytometry Shared Resources.

When: Wednesday, March 28, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Rubin Building, DHMC, Lebanon, NH

Colorectal Cancer Screening Fair, March 30

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and as part of the month's recognition, the Cancer Center will host a Colorectal Cancer Screening Fair. The fair will offer information about:

  • Risks for colon cancer
  • How colon cancer can be screened and prevented
  • What constitutes a colon-healthy lifestyle

Also available will be instructional videos and discussions with physicians about the risks and benefits of screening. Be sure to stop by next month.

When: Friday, March 30, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Fuller Board Room near the Rotunda, DHMC, Lebanon, NH