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Cancer Currents for September 2011

News and Notes from the Director

* Collaborative * Multidisciplinary * Comprehensive * Teamwork *

Photo: Mark Israel, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center

These words define how we work together to deliver the best possible care, day in, day out. This month I received a heartfelt note from a grateful patient who put it in her own words. She wrote, "As a happy breast cancer patient, I want you to know that in the past year I was cared for by 144 (I kept track) different care-givers. They were all wonderful. The speed and efficiency of my appointments was outstanding, I am so grateful that I chose Norris Cotton Cancer Center for treatment in such a beautiful setting."

Photo: Written words in a cardNo one anticipates the diagnosis of cancer, and choosing a place to receive treatment involves personal, logistical, and medical considerations. In this emotional time, positive recommendations from someone who "has gone before" can have an important impact upon patient choice. Thus, the stories our patients tell to friends and family about their care here often are the impetus for new patients finding their way to our Center. Patient satisfaction is closely linked to interactions with staff, and letters like the one above confirm that each person on our staff plays a role in making the patient experience memorable for all the right reasons.

It is astounding, but probably not uncommon, that a single cancer patient interacted with 144 caregivers. The letter from this patient testifies to how collaborative, multidisciplinary, comprehensive, and team-oriented we have become. I am absolutely certain that each person she encountered provided knowledgeable and compassionate care or guidance, and this is the hallmark of a truly great health care facility. The result is the Norris Cotton Cancer Center patient experience. Thank you for all that you do.

—Mark Israel, Director



New $11M Collaborative Grant
Photo: Jason Moore, PhD

Jason Moore, PhD

Congratulations to Jason Moore, PhD, Associate Director for Bioinformatics at the Cancer Center, who is principal investigator on a new $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The project will establish an NIG Center of Biomedical Research Excellence to lead a network of northern New England institutions in recruiting, training, and supporting young quantitative biologists to teach and conduct research into the ways that genes and the environment work together to trigger and prevent disease. Colleagues from the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maine, the University of Vermont, Harvard University's national center for biomedical computing, the University of Southern Maine, Maine's Jackson Labs and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and Maine Medical Center will join Jason and his Dartmouth Medical School colleagues.

The goals of the grant include:

  • Recruitment of talented young quantitative biologists to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, which is essential for advancing biomedical research in our largely rural research setting
  • Mentoring junior faculty to help them become competitive for NIH funding
  • Providing funding to junior investigators for research projects, supporting bioinformatics and biostatistics research through an "Integrative Biology Core"
  • Building infrastructure in the form of a regional, high-performance computing grid
  • Recruiting new faculty in bioinformatics, biostatistics, and related areas
Photo: Robert (Bob) Gerlach

Robert (Bob) Gerlach

"Each project pairs an experimental or observational biologist with a quantitative scientist from bioinformatics or biostatistics," says Jason. "This grant will encourage scientists to collaborate within and between projects, which I believe is the future of biomedical research."

Bob Gerlach Joins NH Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration Board

Bob Gerlach, Associate Director for Administration and Scientific Affairs for the Cancer Center, has been named to the board of directors for the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration, a partnership of individuals and organizations committed to eliminating cancer in the State. Bob, who is also project manager for the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, has been serving on the NH CCC's Emerging Issues Work Group. 

Ethan Dmitrovsky to Chair Pharmacology and Toxicology
Photo: Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD 

Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD

Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD, will chair the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Dartmouth Medical School for the second time in his career. He previously served as department chair for 10 years before becoming an American Cancer Society (ACS) Clinical Research Professor in 2008, and also served DMS as interim dean. He will retain that professorship, as well as his leadership of the influential Board of Scientific Counselors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology for NCI.

He is also an associate director of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, and a board member of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Earlier this summer, Ethan published important new research in lung cancer therapy in collaboration with Konstantin Dragnev, MD, and Vincent Memoli, MD.

New Tumor Board

A new tumor board, the Cutaneous Lymphoma Tumor Board, which has been meeting monthly as a Journal Club, has added a second meeting monthly to discuss cutaneous lymphoma cases. The Board will meet 11:00 a.m. to noon on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays in a room in the pathology department. The group wants to accrue Cat 1 CME credit; Frederick Lansigan, MD, the activity director, will complete the 2012 CME application when it becomes available.

Photo: Comprehensive Breast Program Clinical Trials web pageWebsite Enhancement: Clinical Trials Links Now Available Within COG Pages

This month, a long-awaited and important enhancement to our website went live: the ability to view clinical trials in context within each clinical oncology program's (COG's) section of the website. For example, the Clinical Trials page within the Comprehensive Breast Program's website shows all the breast cancer clinical trials currently active. 

This clinical trials information is updated daily via both Velos and clinicaltrials.gov. Which clinical trials appear in each COG section is based on the Disease Site field in Velos. (So, for example, the breast cancer trials include the Breast-Female and the Breast-Male disease sites.) Only trials in Active/Enrolling status are included. If you have any questions, contact our web producer, Susan Colm, at susan.colm@hitchcock.org or 653-6177.

BMT Program Earns Credentials

Congratulations to our BMT Program, which was re-credentialed by MVP Health for autologous bone marrow transplants and newly credentialed for allogeneic bone marrow transplants program. BMT's participation has been approved for three years effective July 27, 2011.

Protecting Your Rights as an Author: A Library Grand Rounds

Image: Copyright symbol and magnifying glassIf you want to share your research article or someone else's on a course web site, departmental web page, or elsewhere, do you know if and how copyright law applies? How about when you want to share your work freely with colleagues both at Dartmouth and beyond? An upcoming Library Grand Rounds, "Author Rights and Copy Rights: The Do's and Don'ts of Reusing Published Articles," with Elizabeth Kirk, Associate Librarian for Information Resources, Dartmouth College Library, will present ways you can retain your rights to your article or distribute other individuals' articles without breaking copyright rule.

No registration is necessary for this Grand Rounds, which will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from noon to 1 p.m. in Auditorium E at DHMC. If you are unable to attend the Grand Rounds at DHMC, you can view the presentation live on the web. Go to http://www.dhvideo.org, click on "Conferences on the Web," and select "Library Grand Rounds." Note: To add this Grand Rounds to your Outlook calendar in a snap, download and open this Outlook calendar (.ics) file

New Cancer Center Member: David Mullins, PhD
Photo: David Mullins, PhD

David Mullins, PhD

David Mullins, PhD joins the Cancer Center from the University of Virginia, where he has been researching the immunology of melanoma. David brings with him a graduate student, Eleanor Clancy-Thompson, NIH RO1 funding, and a robust record of research productivity. His specific interests are in the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate T cell infiltration of primary and metastatic tumors. From these observations, the Mullins lab has developed novel treatments to enhance T cell access of the tumor microenvironment, thus improving the therapeutic efficacy of immune therapy in both preclinical systems and Phase I clinical trials.

Visit David in his office, Room 733 on the 7th floor of the Rubin Building, to welcome our new researcher to NCCC.

Photo: Thomas Davis, MD, FACP

Thomas Davis, MD, FACP

Tom Davis Discusses Resident Duty Hours

Thomas Davis, MD, FACP, of the Head and Neck Medical Oncology Program and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program, gave an interview this summer to ASCO's Cancer Connection magazine about the challenges of managing resident duty hours – an issue that has caught the attention of the New York Times, among other major media publications. You can read what Tom has to say on the subject on the ASCO Connection website.

A Beautiful $19,000 Ride

Logo: Green Mountain Motorcycle Ride (GMMR)This year's Green Mountain Motorcycle Ride wound through the hills and valleys of Vermont and New Hampshire on a particularly beautiful Sunday, the 21st of August – well, there was that afternoon thundershower, but everyone was enjoying barbecue in the tent by then. Not only was the Ride a great success in terms of renewed friendships, but the event raised $19,000 in nondiscretionary funds for the Cancer Center. Special thanks to Andi Gilbert of the Cancer Center's administrative staff for being our in-house GMMR promoter. Great job, everyone, and glad you had a successful ride!

Field Hockey for Cancer
Photo: From left, Jenna Freitas, Christine Freitas, and coach Rebecca Libby with members of the Manchester Memorial High School field hockey team.

From left: Jenna Freitas, Christine Freitas, and coach Rebecca Libby with members of the Manchester Memorial High School field hockey team.

Photo by Bob Lapree/Union Leader

Twin sisters Jenna and Kelly Freitas, high school seniors in Manchester, spent much of the past year organizing, on their own, a very special event. "Playing for a Purpose," their daylong field hockey jamboree, held on August 24th at Chabot-McDonough Field at Manchester Memorial High School, raised money for the Cancer Center as well as raised the public's awareness of various kinds of cancer.

Jenna and Kelly feel a special calling in their effort: two days after the jamboree, their mother Christine underwent surgery for melanoma. Christine told the New Hampshire Union Leader that the Cancer Center had made a big difference in her life. "The treatments they have for the different types of cancer are amazing," she said. "In my nine years, I've never had to go through chemotherapy." "My sister and I, after finding out [our mom] has cancer, just wanted to do something to help her and others. That's why we call it 'Playing for a Purpose.' It's all about helping people get well," Kelly said. These are remarkable young women, and how wonderful that the Cancer Center is benefiting from their commitment and energy.

The Good Life in Hanover
Photo: Dartmouth green, Hanover, NH

Photo by Joseph Mehling

At a conference I attended not long ago, a colleague came up to me and asked a familiar question: What is life really like in the Upper Valley? Now, in addition to our own claims about the peaceful, beautiful, rural lifestyle that's available here, we can add the endorsement of CNNMoney.com, which recently rated Hanover, NH, among the Top Ten places to live in the United States. In fact, Hanover is the only Ivy League community ranked in the Top 100.

"Dartmouth College, located in this hamlet near the White Mountains, gives Hanover an economic, social, and cultural advantage rare in towns so far from major urban centers. Unemployment in town is about half the statewide average (Dartmouth and its top-rated medical center provide over 12,000 jobs). Graduate programs spin out entrepreneurial start-ups in almost every industry," reports CNNMoney. This is great information to pass along to those we hope to recruit to the Center. Read the full article at CNNMoney.com.

Upcoming Events

The Prouty Alliance Against Cancer 5K Run
Saturday, September 10
Manchester, NH

The event includes a 400M Kids Race, cash prizes, awards, T-shirts, lots of refreshments, music, and FUN! For more information, email Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center Manchester program coordinator Christine Pariseau-Telge at Christine.A.Pariseau-Telge@hitchcock.org or call 800-226-8744. Or, visit proutyalliance5k.org.

Marilyn K. Bedell Distinguished Lecture in Oncology Nursing: "Nursing Impacts Patient and Caregiver Outcomes in Cancer Care"
Thursday, September 15
12:00-1:00 p.m., Auditorium E, DHMC
Speaker: Ruth McCorkle, PhD, FAAN
Director, Psychosocial Oncology Research, Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center
Florence S. Wald Professor of Nursing, Yale University School of Nursing
Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), Yale School of Public Health
Interim Specialty Director of Adult Health, Yale University School of Nursing
More information.

Vermont Breast Cancer Conference
Friday, October 7
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center
South Burlington, VT

The Annual Breast Cancer Conference, presented by the Vermont Cancer Center at UVM/Fletcher Allen, is committed to serving the needs of men and women in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Northern New York who are interested in learning about breast health. Cancer Center speakers include James DiRenzo, PhD; Charlene Gates, PT; and Rebecca Gray of Friends of NCCC. More information at vtbreastcancerconference.org.