Apr 03

Duke Cancer Institute Moves Blog To New Website

Please Note: The DCI Blog is now located at our newly redesigned website: dukecancerinstitute.org. Editors invite DCI sites.duke.edu subscribers to follow and subscribe to our new blog by visiting http://dukecancerinstitute.org/blog. The subscribe button is located at the upper right of the landing page.


There are numerous reasons for having a web presence, but many would argue visibility and credibility rank at the top of the list. Nowadays the Internet is the primary go-to for information of all kinds — including information on science and medicine. In an effort to stay in front of its multiple audiences and provide valuable information, Duke Cancer Institute’s website has undergone some renovation and remodeling of late.

Duke Cancer Institute recently launched two websites: a public facing Duke Cancer Institute website and DCI Intranet (internal) site. In step, The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center also launched its own newly designed website. The three sites are built with Drupal, now the leading platform for web content management among global enterprises, government organizations, higher education institutions and non-profits.

“Our new sites are modern, easier to navigate, visually appealing and allow faculty and staff to easily locate information they are seeking,” said Tim Steele, clinical research informatics manager whose precision team was instrumental in the launch of all three sites. “The newly designed websites also allow staff to direct their constituents, including researchers, referring physicians, peer institutions and patients, to useful, many times vital, information.”

The sites now also offer multimedia capabilities, social media integration, a member search, and news feeds or blogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/duke-cancer-institute-moves-blog-to-new-website/

Mar 20

Brain Tumor Survivor Moms Are Angels Among Us

Brain cancer survivors Sally Grant and Jodi Novak participate in the 2015 Angels Among Us 5K. (photo by Jim Shaw Photography)

Behind every team photo and supportive hug at the annual Angels Among Us 5K and family fun run are stories of personal struggle and hope, love and new friendship. New teams form. Old ones dissolve. And some, persistent and resolute, stay in it for the long-haul.

For a third year, two women, both of whom have endured their own harrowing battles against brain cancer, are again joining forces to help fund a cure.

Jodi Novak and Sally Grant, who became friends through The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, both beat the odds for their own survival and even went on to bear children.

Jodi’s Story

Married for just three years, Jodi Novak and her airman husband, based in Colorado, were planning to start a family when in June 2001 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“We wanted to have a kid and instead I got a brain tumor,” laughed Novak, a bubbly dental hygienist with a gift for gab. “It totally rocked our world.”

Novak, then 27, had experienced migraines since she was a kid, but after series of four in a 24-hour period, she was convinced that “something wasn’t right” and demanded that her primary care doctor order an MRI.

As it turned out, she had a relatively small ping-pong sized tumor — an epithelioid glioblastoma (GBM). Because it was caught early she was able to have it surgically removed before the cancer had a chance to spread.

When Novak’s oncologist couldn’t give her an estimate for how long she might live beyond surgery, she and her husband went online and searched her tumor type, learned about GBM research being done at Duke and fired off an email to neuro-oncologist Henry Friedman, MD, asking his advice about her case.

Friedman quickly got in touch; advising her to continue with the seven weeks of post-surgery radiation treatments she was getting in Colorado and then recommending she come to Duke.

“We saw Dr. Henry on October 8, 2001. I can’t remember people’s birthdays but this date is ingrained in my brain; I can’t forget it,” said Novak, who from that point on followed a Friedman-designed treatment plan, which included a mix of chemotherapy drugs, taken back home, plus regular follow-ups at Duke. “I took my last dose of chemo in Dec. 2002 and everything has been clear since then.”

About half of the nearly 25,000 new cases of primary malignant brain tumors diagnosed yearly are glioblastomas, the deadliest form of brain cancer. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the median survival rate for these patients is only 14.6 months, though there have been some rare cases of patients living from 10 to 20 years.

Because of her tumor and subsequent treatment, Novak had to wait several years after her diagnosis to conceive. Now 43, she is a busy mother of two young girls, age five and eight. She draws strength from her faith, her family, and the women in her Bible study group.

Sally’s Story

Sally Grant was diagnosed with glioblastoma in Dec. 2009 during her first year teaching in New Orleans. She said she figured her disoriented thoughts were simply a result of “going crazy” trying to set up her new classroom and unpack their apartment following a move from Indiana. That was not the case.

“While not many people would welcome this diagnosis, it’s especially hard to receive when you’re the 38-year-old mother of an almost two-year-old daughter,” she wrote in a blog she kept to share her journey with supportive friends and family.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/brain-tumor-survivor-moms-are-angels-among-us/

Mar 17

March Newsmakers

Duke Researcher Urges Caution on President Trump’s Call for Less FDA Regulation (ABC 11)
Features Steven Patierno, PhD

Are some breast cancer patients getting too much radiation? (CBS News)
Features E. Shelley Hwang, MD and Rachel Adams Greenup, MD

Betting on the first disease to be treated by gene editing (CNBC)
Features Charles Gersbach, PhD

Waiting, worry, information overload add to challenges facing cancer patients (WRAL)
Features Carol Hahn, MD

Soaring costs force cancer patients to skip drugs, treatment (USA Today, NPR)
Features Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS

U.S. News Reveals 2018 Best Graduate Schools Rankings (US News & World Report)
Features Duke University School of Nursing (#1) and Duke University Medical School (#7)

New made-in-Singapore cancer drug could lower leukaemia mortality (Channel NewsAsia)
Features Duke NUS

Duke, UNC researchers push forward with brain cancer research (The Chronicle)
Features Donald Lo, PhD Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/march-newsmakers-3/

Mar 17

Kastan, Modrich Elected Fellows Of The AACR Academy Class Of 2017

Michael Kastan, MD, PhD

Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, executive director, Duke Cancer Institute, and Paul Modrich, PhD, recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, have been elected as Fellows of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Academy Class of 2017.

The AACR Academy serves to recognize and honor distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. All Fellows are nominated and elected through a rigorous peer-review process conducted by existing Fellows of the AACR Academy and ratified by the AACR Executive Committee. This process involves an assessment of each candidate on the basis of his or her scientific achievements in cancer research and cancer-related biomedical science. Only individuals whose work has had a significant and enduring impact on the field are eligible for election as AACR Fellows.

Michael B. Kastan, who assumed leadership of Duke Cancer Institute in 2011, is the William and Jane Shingleton Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and Professor of Pediatrics. His research spans more than three decades and includes several focus areas, including cellular responses to DNA damage and their impact on cell viability and cancer formation.

Kastan is being recognized for ascertaining key steps of the DNA damage response pathway, deciphering mechanisms of p53-mediated cell cycle inhibition, and for defining the role of ATM in modulating mitochondrial function, insulin signaling, and cellular metabolism.

Kastan is the recipient of numerous honors. Last year he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Kastan was elected in 2014 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in that same year, he was inducted a fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science. Kastan is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Paul L. Modrich, PhD

Paul L. Modrich is the James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He has spent 40 years studying DNA repair, much of it at Duke. Modrich joined the Department of Biochemistry in 1976. Modrich is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and the National Academy of Sciences. Modrich was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry along with Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory in the UK, and Aziz Sancar of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Modrich is being recognized by AACR for his work clarifying the mechanisms of DNA mismatch repair and demonstrating its role in the onset of various cancers including hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer.

“These celebrated individuals comprise a prestigious brain trust of global leaders in cancer research who provide scientific insight and expert guidance in science policy to the AACR as the organization continues to pursue its important mission to accelerate the prevention and cure of all cancers,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “This year’s newly elected Fellows from the U.S. and around the world have made quintessential scientific discoveries that revolutionize how we study, treat and prevent cancer.”

Kastan and Modrich will be inducted into the AACR Academy on Friday, March 31, at the Willard Intercontinental in Washington, D.C. For more on information the American Association of Cancer Research and the Academy Class of 2017, visit AACR.

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/kastan-modrich-elected-fellows-of-the-aacr-academy-class-of-2017/

Mar 15

André To Retire After More Than 20 Years Of Service

Alison André

Duke Cancer Institute congratulates Alison André on her retirement from the Duke University Health System.

Alison André first came to Raleigh Community (now Duke Raleigh) Hospital in 1991 as a weekend physical therapist during graduate school before joining the team full time as the director of Sports Medicine and later director of Rehabilitation Services.

She was introduced to the cancer service line as the director of the Duke Oncology Network, then came to main campus as the administrative leader for Gastroenterology and Bronchoscopy before returning to oncology as the Duke Cancer Institute assistant vice president, Oncology Clinical Operations.

“Between her time with the Duke Oncology Network and Duke Cancer Institute, Alison provided almost a decade of outstanding service to cancer patients, families, and teams,” said Carolyn Carpenter, MHA, FACHE, chief operating officer for Duke University Hospital. “She consistently and enthusiastically stepped to the plate to tackle extraordinarily complex issues through her commitment to excellence, dedication to keeping patients at the center of what we do, and good humor. She will be sorely missed.”

At the 2012 grand opening of Duke Cancer Center, Alison Andre, center, shares a moment of jubilation with then DCI administrator Carolyn Carpenter (right).

Highlights of André’s career at Duke include working with “tremendous” teams to facilitate and provide excellent patient care, notable expansion of services on both main campus and in the community based portfolio, and the significant integration of technology into the clinical and healthcare administrative environment.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all those with whom I have had the privilege to work,” said André.

André’s retirement will be effective Friday, April 28. To send well wishes, please email Alison André.


Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/andre-to-retire-after-more-than-20-years-of-service/

Mar 14

Duke Researchers Reveal Genetic Causes of Rare, But Lethal HSTL

For the study, human HSTL cells (baseline cells, top image) were modified to knock down one of the most frequent genes mutated in HSTL, SETD2. Cells with SETD2 knockdown were tagged with red fluorescent protein (bottom image) in order to track the changes induced by SETD2 knockdown. (images taken by Matthew McKinney, MD, in the Dave Lab, Duke Cancer Institute)

Led by a team from Duke, an international group of 56 researchers has found new mutations identifying potential treatments and new hope for patients with hepatosplenic T cell lymphoma (HSTL or HSCTL) — one of the deadliest cancers known.

Through whole exome sequencing of 68 human tissue samples from more than 20 institutions, researchers were able to define the genetic landscape of HSTL, including recurrently mutated driver genes and copy number alterations. It is the largest clinical and genetic study ever described in HSTL.

“The top genes that affect these patients are SETD2, STAT5B, STAT3, INO80 and PIK3CD,” said Duke Cancer Institute physician-scientist Sandeep Dave, MD, MS, MBA, the senior and corresponding author of a Cancer Discovery paper that revealed the results of the three-year groundbreaking study in its March 2017 issue. “Not only are they of interest because they give rise to this lethal disease but also because they immediately suggest new therapies.”

Co-first author Matthew McKinney, MD, a hematologist/oncologist who works on the translational aspects of genomics in leukemias and lymphomas and the development of novel therapies, led the biological work for the study. Computational biologist Andrea Moffitt, who recently earned her PhD from the Duke Program in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, led the computational analysis of the data.

McKinney said that their study suggests that a combination of ruxolitinib phosphate, which targets the JAK-STAT pathway (activated by mutations in the STAT5B and STAT3 genes in HSTL) and idelalisib, which targets the PI 3-kinase pathway (activated by mutations in the PIK3CD gene in HSTL) could be a potentially effective therapy for some HSTL patients. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/duke-researchers-reveal-genetic-causes-of-rare-but-lethal-hstl/

Mar 14

Be The Match

David Zaas, MD, president, Duke Raleigh Hospital

You’re invited to Be The Match on Friday, March 17, at Duke Hospital Medical Library on the 8th floor of Duke North in Durham, North Carolina. This is your opportunity to be involved — to transplant hope. On Feb. 14, David Zaas, MD, president, Duke Raleigh Hospital, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Support and honor his fight by volunteering to join the Be The Match Registry.

“We will win this battle together over the next several months,” said Zaas, husband and father of two sons. “I want to thank everyone for their support of me and my family.”

The Be The Match Reigstry is a database of volunteers who are willing to donate stem cells or bone marrow. To join, volunteers simply complete some paperwork and undergo a cheek swab. For more information, contact Betsie Letterle at 919.414.8312. Opportunities to volunteer also are available online at Be The Match 4 Dave. Volunteers must be in good general health and at least 18 years old. To Be The Match event on March 17 will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. For more information on the Be The Match Registry, visit bethematch.org.

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/be-the-match/

Mar 13

Miller Named Administrative Director

Nolan Miller, MHA

Nolan Miller, MHA, was recently named administrative director for Duke Cancer Institute’s Thoracic, Endocrine Neoplasia, and Head & Neck programs. In his new role, Miller will provide overall administrative leadership for the programs. This will include program development, space and facilities planning, and collaborative leadership to support the clinical, academic and research missions of these programs across the broader Duke Health environment.

Previously, Miller was affiliated with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where, from 2015 to 2017, he served as administrative director for Diagnostic Radiology and from 2012 to 2015 served as clinical business manager for GYN Oncology.

In 2008 Miller received his Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received his Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Medicine in 2011.

Miller has served on numerous committees, including Dan’s House of Hope, Inc., the Adolescent and Young Adult Advisory Council and the MD Anderson Mentoring Connections, where he volunteered as a mentor.

“I’m honored to have joined Duke Cancer Institute and its Thoracic, Endocrine Neoplasia, and Head and Neck Programs,” said Miller. “I am eager to partner with clinical, research and academic teams. I also look forward to collaborating with Duke Health and Duke University School of Medicine to continue to drive innovation and advance the mission of Duke Cancer Institute. I will apply my background supporting academic, multi-disciplinary oncology practices and my passion for improving healthcare systems to find new opportunities to improve clinical operations and the delivery of patient care.”

Miller assumed his role as administrative director on Feb. 20, 2017.

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/miller-named-administrative-director/

Mar 13

Goins Competes For Woman Of The Year

Jennifer Goins

Jennifer Goins, a program coordinator for Duke Department of Immunology, has been nominated to compete in The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 2017 Woman of the Year campaign.

Goins hopes to help bring leukemia, a disease to which she lost her two-year-old nephew, to its proper end.

“It is a devastating loss for my sister, her husband and really for our entire family,” said Goins, her eyes welling with tears. “When I was approached with the nomination, I recognized that this is my opportunity to help make sure adequate funding is available to researchers.”

The LLS’s Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign is a spirited fundraising competition in which nominees compete for the title of Man or Woman of the Year. Participants raise funds for LLS blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors. The titles are awarded to the man and woman in each community who raises the most funds during the ten-week campaign; the top local fundraisers in the country also win the national titles. To raise funds, participants reach out to their personal and professional networks and also often host fundraisers—uniting their passions with their quest to support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/goins-competes-for-woman-of-the-year/

Mar 13

Thomas LeBlanc Appointed AAHPM Fellow

Thomas LeBlanc, MD, MA, MHS

Thomas LeBlanc, MD, MA, MHS, was recently appointed a fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM). LeBlanc, a cell therapy and hematologic malignancies specialist as well as a medical oncologist and palliative medicine specialist, was also recognized by AAHPM in 2015 as an Inspirational Leader Under 40.

According to the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, recognition as a fellow is one of its highest honors. Fellow recognition is given to physicians whose professional activity is devoted to the practice of hospice and palliative medicine. Fellows of the academy are required to be board certified, members of AAHPM for five consecutive years and active within the academy.

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine works to expand access to high-quality palliative care, advancing the discipline of hospice and palliative medicine through professional education and training, the development of a specialist workforces, support for clinical practice standards and research and public policy.

LeBlanc was formally recognized as a Fellow of the Class of 2016 at the AAHPM Annual Assembly on Saturday, Feb. 25, in Pheonix Arizona.

Permanent link to this article: https://sites.duke.edu/dukecancerinstitute/thomas-leblanc-appointed-aahpm-fellow/

Older posts «