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Promise and Progress - Honors & Awards

Reprogramming Cancer Cells - The Story of Epigenetics
Issue No. 1

Honors & Awards

Date: July 16, 2014

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Johns Hopkins was honored for its day at the market program, a bimonthly event funded in part by the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund.

Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team

Pancreatic cancer and immunology expert Elizabeth Jaffee, M.D., was selected to lead a Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Dream Team.  Dr. Jaffee, the Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli Professor in Oncology and Co-Director of the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer Research and Clinical Care, will lead a team of scientists from nine institutions.  Funding totaling $8 million will be used to develop immune therapies that use patients’ own immune cells to fight pancreatic cancer.  The research team, which is set to begin work in July 2014, hopes to turn this deadly cancer into a highly treatable one.

The other participating institutions are the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of California San Francisco, Oregon Health & Science University, NYU Langone Medical Center, Stanford University, the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

American Association of Cancer Research Honors

The 2014 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award was presented to the Duke University/Johns Hopkins University/National Cancer Institute (NCI) Malignant Brain Tumor Team.  The multi-institutional team includes 26 faculty members from Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the NCI. The team was selected because of the immense impact their research has had on our understanding of the biology of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and lethal type of brain cancer. The Johns Hopkins team included Kimmel Cancer Center investigators Luis Diaz, M.D., Allan Friedman, M.D., Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., Nickolas Papadopoulos, Ph.D., Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., and Bert Vogelstein, M.D., The award recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary research team for its innovative and meritorious scientific work that has advanced or will likely advance cancer research, detection, diagnosis, prevention or treatment.

This latest honor marks the second year in a row that Kimmel Cancer Center clinicians and scientists were recipients of the Team Science Award. Last year, it was presented to a multi-institutional team led by Ralph Hruban, M.D., for work deciphering the genetic changes that characterize pancreatic cancer.  Other Kimmel Cancer Center team members were Luis Diaz, M.D., James Eshleman, M.D., Ph.D., Michael Goggins, M.D., Joseph Herman, M.D., Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, M.D., Scott Kern, M.D., Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., Alison Klein, Ph.D., Alan Meeker, Ph.D., Nick Papadopoulos, Ph.D., Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Christopher Wolfgang, M.D., Ph.D., and Laura Wood, M.D., Ph.D. 

Cancer epigenetics expert Stephen B. Baylin, M.D., and cancer genetics expert Kenneth W. Kinzler, Ph.D., were among the 36 scientists elected to AACR’s 2014 Class of Fellows. The fellows represent distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. Donald Coffey, Ph.D., Carol Greider, Ph.D., and Bert Vogelstein, M.D., were among the 106 selected in 2013 to the inaugural class of the Fellows of the AACR Academy, created to recognize distinguished scientists

State Honors

Johns Hopkins received three of four implementation awards given by the Maryland Cancer Collaborative, the group that oversees the Maryland Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan.  Johns Hopkins was honored for its Day at the Market program, a bimonthly event funded in part by the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund, that brings nurses and other clinicians, safety experts, and various caregivers to the Northeast Market on Monument Street in East Baltimore to provide information about prevention and detection of cancer and other diseases and ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Awards also went to the Komen-funded breast cancer patient webinars and the survivorship program and video, “Managing Cancer in the Workplace.”

The Best Nursing

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Nursing, which includes oncology nursing, for a third time achieved Magnet Recognition status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This prestigious designation recognizes quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice. The Magnet appraisers were particularly impressed by the strength of interdisciplinary collaboration, the dedication of all staff to patient safety initiatives, and the level of engagement of nurses in building design and information technology projects. Johns Hopkins nursing was the first in Maryland to receive this renowned recognition

The Baltimore-based Abell Foundation awarded Nita Ahuja, M.D., a $50,000 grant for her development of a screening blood test for early detection of pancreatic cancer in high-risk patients. The award honors university researchers who have a positive impact on the health of Baltimore citizens.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded $11.6 million over five years to Jef Boeke, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics, who has a joint appointment at the Kimmel Cancer Center. The funds will be used to create a new national center, called the Center for Systems Biology of Retrotransposition. The center will focus on the workings of so-called jumping genes—DNA segments that can copy and paste themselves into new areas of the genome.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced that Philip Cole, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Chemical Therapeutics Program and the E.K. Marshall and Thomas H. Maren Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences was among its 388 new fellows from around the world. AAAS fellows are elected by their peers and honored for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Roisin Connolly, M.B.B.S., received the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conquer Cancer Foundation Career Development Award (CDA), which provides patient-oriented cancer research funding for young cancer doctors new to academic medicine.

Oncology chaplain the Rev. Rhonda Cooper, M.Div., has been appointed the Association of Professional Chaplains state representative for Maryland and District of  Columbia.

Charles Drake, M.D., Ph.D. and Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., were among 49 scientists awarded a $9.6 million Melanoma Research Alliance grant to investigate new treatments and cures for melanoma. Recipients were selected from leading academic institutions around the world.

The Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics’ Elana Fertig, Ph.D., led a team that won a 2013 DREAM8 Challenge.  The Dialogue on Reverse Engineering Assessment and Methods (DREAM) project is an initiative to advance the field of systems biology through the organization of challenges to foster the development of predictive models that allow scientists to better understand human disease.

Pediatric oncologist Christopher Gamper, M.D., Ph.D., was selected the 2013 Hyundai Scholar.  Hyundai Hope on Wheels supported his research on immunotherapy for children with refractory and relapsed cancers.  Dr. Gamper also received the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar Award. The foundation’s St. Baldrick’s Fellow award went to Brian Ladle, M.D., to support his research using vaccines to activate the immune system against cancer. Dr. Ladle also received an award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer for his immune therapy research.

Ralph Hruban, M.D., director of the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, was elected to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Founded in 1652, it is the world’s oldest continuously existing academy for medicine and the natural sciences. Dr. Hruban was recognized for his contributions to pancreatic pathology and pancreatic cancer genetics. Dr. Hruban was also honored with the inaugural Ruth Leff Siegel Award for Excellence in Pancreatic Cancer Research.  The award recognizes an investigator who has made a significant contribution to the understanding and/or treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Image Recovery Center founder Marianne Kelly was honored for her service to cancer patients with the Spirited Woman in Business Award from the MyCity4Her organization.

Medical student Isaac Kinde won third-prize in the graduate division of a national Collegiate Inventors Competition for his work as part of the Ludwig Center team that developed a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers. Finalists were invited to the White House to meet with the science and technology advisor to President Obama.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network awarded Dung Le, M.D., the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Research Acceleration Network (RAN) grant. The RAN grant is a $1 million grant that offers strategic funding and project management services to high-priority projects already underway within the pancreatic cancer research community.

David Loeb, M.D., Ph.D., was among the 12 U.S. researchers selected to receive a 2014 Reach Grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.  The two-year, $250,000 award is for his research of Ewing’s sarcoma and is designed to overcome significant barriers that impede the translation of innovative and important research ideas from the lab to the clinic.

The 2013 American Cancer Society (ACS) Clinical Research Professor Award was awarded to Steve Meltzer, M.D.  This exclusive award is presented to just two researchers each year and supports the winner’s research program with $80,000 per year for five years.

Breast cancer, survivorship care, and consumer health informatics expert Robert S. Miller, M.D., F.A.C.P., was appointed editor-in-chief of Cancer.Net, the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s patient information website.

Molecular biology and genetics expert and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Duojia “D.J.” Pan, Ph.D., received a Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, an award for those aged 45 years or younger who are furthering the understanding of cancer.

Zeshaan Rasheed, M.D., Ph.D., received the V Foundation for Cancer Research’s V Scholar Grant for his research of the tumor microenvironment and stem cell plasticity in pancreatic cancer. The award includes a $200,000 two-year grant designed to identify, retain, and further the careers of young scientists developing independent laboratory research projects.

Bone marrow transplant expert Georgia Vogelsang, M.D., won the 2013 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Exemplary Service Award.  Established in 1998, the award recognizes an individual whose outstanding service has significantly advanced the interests of the society over a period of several years. ASH is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to the causes and treatments of blood disorders.

Lei Zheng M.D., Ph.D., received an award from the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation to support a colon cancer vaccine research program. The research will test a combined vaccine/epigenetic-based approach to treating colon cancer. 

The Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research announced awards of more than $1 million to 23 academic institutions across the U.S.  David Loeb, M.D., Ph.D., received support for his sarcoma research.


Cancer Scientists Having Impact against Other Diseases

Jonathan Powell, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded a $50,000 BioMaryland LIFE (Leading Innovative Faculty Entrepreneurs) research grant to further develop a new therapeutic agent for type 2 diabetes.  The LIFE grants are intended to help advance research in biotech and biopharma, medical devices, or diagnostics that have the greatest potential for commercial application.

It’s a Telly!

The Kimmel Cancer Center has been awarded three Telly Awards for two videos produced and edited by advisory board member Laurie Singer, Tim Bloomquist and the cancer center Office of Public Affairs. A pediatric cancer video called “I Have Cancer” received two of its highest honors, the Silver Telly, in the Education and Health and Wellness categories.  A Bronze Telly in the Education category was awarded for the video “The Pancreas Cancer Couples Retreat at Johns Hopkins.” The videos were selected from some 12,000 worldwide entries. Winners are selected by the Silver Telly Council, which includes leaders in advertising, production and creative services from across the U.S.

Watch the videos