Message From the New Director
Scott M. Lippman, MD, former chair of the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, began his new role as Director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center May 1, 2012. Dr. Lippman has more than 25 years of experience as principal investigator of translational research involving investigator-initiated clinical trials. His research focus is translational/molecular studies of cancer risk, molecular-targeted drug development and personalized therapy. He also plans to maintain an active clinical practice, including the accrual of new patients to clinical research protocols. (Read more) The following excerpt is from a message Dr. Lippman recently sent to the Cancer Center community (read the entire letter here):
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Let me say “hello” and how delighted I am to begin this wonderful journey with all of you in making the Moores Cancer Center, already one of the world’s premier cancer centers, even more effective in advancing research-driven cancer detection, treatment and prevention. I would like to share some initial thoughts about where we are today, and where we are headed.
Cancer is a major worldwide cause of suffering and pain for individuals and their families. We are in a war to defeat this aggressive enemy, and to win any war, you need the strongest, smartest army—the right people, tools and technologies. That’s why I wanted to come to UC San Diego, an internationally respected research powerhouse, and to the Moores Cancer Center, where the top people in the field are committed to translating laboratory research findings into improved prospects for cancer patients.
The past decade has witnessed a sea change in our understanding of this complex disease. With genetic sequencing we can now isolate the alterations and abnormalities that drive a tumor, and develop drugs that weaken and defeat the tumor by going after specific molecular targets. We are learning more about how the tumor cripples the immune system, and about the many other components that allow cancer to develop and thrive.
These advances are happening at a rapid pace. In general, the past development of new therapies was a long process often involving large, lengthy clinical trials of drugs that led to small, incremental improvements for patients. Today we are identifying and going after individual molecular defects and the creation of personalized, targeted therapies that lead to big effects in smaller, smarter trials. I envision that in the next five to ten years, these types of treatments will convert many types of cancer into chronic, controllable diseases that people can live with, and will increase the potential for cures.
In order to make a difference in this era of personalized medicine, you have to be right where the discoveries are happening. And, you have to be able to move these discoveries quickly into the clinical setting. Moores is just such a place. The San Diego region is a unique environment. Nowhere else will you find such an abundance and depth of scientific talent, and such strong collaborative linkages that lead rapidly to real benefits for patients.
I stand in awe of the great discoveries being made in the research laboratories at UC San Diego and nearby institutions such as Scripps Research Institute, Salk, Burnham and pharma and biotech companies. Translating these discoveries into improved diagnostics and therapeutic interventions, the Moores Cancer Center will be second to none as a major hub for advanced clinical care. The momentum is building, with the expansion of facilities and programs.
I want to conclude by acknowledging the legacy of exceptional leadership that has brought the Moores Cancer Center to this stage in its evolution. I am deeply honored to follow in the recent footsteps of Dr. Dennis Carson, a pioneer in translational research who continues to make seminal contributions in the development of innovative therapeutics. I am also grateful for and impressed by the interim stewardship of Dr. Thomas Kipps, who has helped ensure the continuing excellence and growth of the Center, as well as helping me personally, during this transition.
As we build on this legacy and develop our strategic plan for the future, I will call upon you to share your ideas, suggestions and concerns. The first and singularly most important element in the plan is you. Each of you has already contributed to the growth of this center in a unique and vital way. Please keep doing what you do so well. You are the intellectual foundation, the heart and soul of the Moores Cancer Center.
Together, I have no doubt that we will create the foremost cancer center in the world, and make a difference in the lives of patients and family members for generations to come.
With gratitude, best wishes and excitement for the future,
Scott M. Lippman, MD
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Grateful Daughter Gives Gift of Books
Leslie Beebe is an avid reader. She believes in the healing power of books. So when the sponsors of World Book Night sought volunteers from around the country to give away free paperback books in their communities, she jumped at the opportunity and sent in her application. She was selected to participate in the nationwide event, and Moores Cancer Center patients were the beneficiaries of the carton of books that she requested. She donated the books to the Infusion Center, for patients to read during their treatment. Her book of choice was The Kite Runner, which was authored by Khaled Hosseini, MD, a graduate of the UC San Diego School of Medicine (Class of 1993). An article about the event in USA Today featured Leslie as one of the volunteers, describing her participation:
In San Diego, Leslie Beebe, a former teacher and aspiring editor, will give out copies of The Kite Runner, the best-selling coming-of-age novel set in Afghanistan, at Moores Cancer Center, which provides chemotherapy and other treatments. Beebe's father was treated there a decade ago after being diagnosed with incurable lymphoma and is "still going strong," she says. "I know what it's like there. People just sitting around. The way The Kite Runner ends isn't perfect, and I know the lives of the people at the center aren't perfect, either."
When Leslie delivered the books along with her mother and father, a patient of Dr. Peter Holman’s, she said she selected the Moores Cancer Center Infusion Center as the recipients of the gift because ”they gave my father the medicine that saved his life.” (Leslie and her father are pictured above).
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Meet Dennis Richmond, PAC Chair
Dennis Richmond, MD, FACS, is the new Chair of the Cancer Center’s Patient Advisory Council, which is composed of patients, survivors, family members and caregivers, community volunteers, and MCC faculty and staff. The PAC and its committees work to improve the experience of MCC patients and their loved ones. He replaces Dr. Karen Garman, whose term as PAC Chair concluded in December.
Dr. Richmond, a La Jolla resident, earned his MD at UCLA. After completing his residency, he served as Chief of Surgery and United States Air Force Captain at Vandenberg Air Force Base from 1966-68. He then joined the Department of Surgery at Kaiser Bellflower Hospital in Los Angeles, retiring after nearly 30 years, including serving as Chief of Surgery from 1982-88, and as Ombudsman for Patient Care from 1972 until 1997. He was also Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at UC Irvine. In addition to his role with the PAC he serves on the Palliative Care Committee and the Patient and Family Centered Care Committee.
“I am humbled to assume this position, because those preceding me as PAC Chairs have been more than superb and caring in their leadership,” said Richmond. “As a retired surgeon who treated many cancer patients, and as a caregiver for my wife, who had pancreatic cancer, it is my goal to increase the rapport between physicians, staff, patients and caregivers. Patients can feel like a beach ball, being tossed about from physician to physician, department to department, with very little continuity of tender loving care. We are striving to help provide insights into the needs of patients and their families, to recommend solutions when we identify issues, and to facilitate continuing, appropriate communication between the treating team and the patient.”
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MCC Reaches Out…WAY Out!
Seated in the Otterson Board Room of the Moores Cancer Center, Dr. Richard Schwab recently met “face to face” with the breast tumor board at the Instituto Henry Moore, a major cancer center in Buenos Aires. He was discussing the case of a young Argentine woman with advanced breast cancer, consulting with a team of colleagues at the Instituto who had assembled for this long-distance meeting. This pilot effort was part of the UC San Diego Health System’s Department of Telemedicine initiative to extend the expertise of UC San Diego medical and surgical specialists to remote sites, using advanced telemedicine technology. This consultation was arranged to help determine the feasibility of formalizing these types of partnerships, with colleagues in Argentina and throughout the world, according to Drs. Brett Meyer and Larry Friedman, who are overseeing the initiative. Assisted by Telemedicine Project Manager Christopher Clarke, the physicians said this consultation “went incredibly well,” as did a previous consultation between Dr. Santosh Kesari and neuro-oncologists at the Instituto Henry Moore. Discussions to formalize these types of relationships are continuing.
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Service Excellence Celebrated at Retreat
More than 300 staff, physicians and administrators attended the first Moores Cancer Center Faculty and Staff Service Retreats, held in April/May at the UC San Diego Faculty Club. In three separate sessions, attendees heard updates on Cancer Center growth, accomplishments and the strategic plan from the MCC leadership (including new director, Dr. Scott Lippman, who attended two of the half-day retreats), and a testimonial from a grateful Cancer Center patient. A presentation based on the book “Crucial Conversations-Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High” led to an interactive session on improving communication within the Cancer Center. According to Associate Administrator Christy Wenger, the response from participants has been very positive. A follow-up survey is now being conducted to gather feedback for the development of future sessions.
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Survivor Week Coming Up
We all understand that cancer survivors have been on a difficult journey. The Moores Cancer Center will be hosting a week of events covering topics ranging from robotics to yoga, all designed to renew, recharge and rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit of those recovering from, and living with, cancer. From June 6-12, a series of classes, workshops, lectures, and celebrations will be held at the Cancer Center and other locations. For more information, please visit the website.
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Help Tell Our Story on the New MCC Website!
The Cancer Center Website has a dynamic new home page, featuring changing images and videos, upcoming events, inspiring patient stories, news highlights, and improved navigation to assist users in accessing clinical services and programs by “cancer type.” If you haven’t taken a look lately, you can check it out here.
In order to keep the website fresh and current, the Health Sciences Marketing/Communications Department seeks your ideas and input. If you know of any compelling patient or staff testimonials, success stories, upcoming events of public interest, news items about clinical initiatives, clinical trials or research advances, or other ideas, please send them in!
Website suggestions can be sent to email@example.com, and news stories of general interest, both research and clinical, can be send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We invite your submission of any information you think would be of interest to other members of the Cancer Center community. This might include event announcements, new employees, honors and awards, new services, new publications, shared or new equipment that is available at your location, helpful laboratory oradministrative tips/techniques, etc. For further information about any of these items, to submit new items or to provide feedback about this news communications tool, contact Leslie Franz, (858) 822-7695 or email@example.com. Please state the best way to reach you, by telephone or e-mail, if we need to clarify a submitted item.
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