Director's Message: 2019 in Review

I would like to wish you a happy season and hope you all enjoy your holidays! It is all of your good work that is the engine of this cancer center and it simply would not exist without all of you!

As we wrap up 2019, I am proud to highlight some of the leadership, honors, events, grants and accomplishments to illustrate the past year at our exceptional center.

First, the following individuals took on new positions adding value to our cancer center:

  • We welcomed Alan Diehl as Chair of Biochemistry. Alan, who has a research interest in cancer metabolism, came to us from Hollings Cancer Center and serves on our Cancer Center Executive Committee as Strategic Advisor to the Director. 
  • John Pounardjian took over as Associate Director for Administration after a national search. John is constantly thinking of new ways to improve our administrative structure to better support the center and its members.
  • Kevin Hoy joined our administrative team as Director of our Clinical Research Office this summer – he and his team are keenly focused on clinical trial accrual, especially minority accrual.

We also saw a change in program and shared resource leadership:

Members were recognized throughout the year for their accomplishments, contributions to the field, community and more. Below are just a few of the honors received:

We continue to be a leader in the fields of cancer health disparities, artificial intelligence, and AYA research. This year we hosted three national events that caused such a buzz that subsequent events are already being planned.

  • The 3rd Annual Cancer Disparities Symposium, led by Monica Webb Hooper, was held in March 2019 and attracted over 250 registrants and led to many spin-off research partnerships. The 2020 symposium is being planned now - we received 25% more abstracts than last year.
  • The Inaugural Artificial Intelligence in Oncology Symposium, led by Anant Madabhushi, was held in October of this year. We hosted 270 registrants from 12 US states and 8 countries, plus 50 who watched via livestream. We look forward to hosting the event with the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics again in 2020.
  • In November we hosted the Innovators in AYA Cancer Symposium, led by John Letterio and Alex Huang. This is a tight-knit and very engaged group. We attracted 150 attendees for this two-day event. We expect this event to return in Fall of 2021, preceded by an Immuno-Oncology Symposium, led by Alex in Spring of that year.
  • Next year, we will host the Great Lakes Breast Cancer Symposium in Cleveland after meeting with our colleagues in Columbus for this year’s event.
  • 2020 will also see the return of our exciting Cancer Stem Cell Conference – save the date now as registration is expected to open in February!

This year, members received 123 new research/non-training grants totaling nearly $20M of funding for new annual direct costs across research areas including 29 new R01s, 3 new multi-investigator NIH grants, 2 new S10s for major equipment and foundation grants from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Grey Foundation, V Foundation, Mathers Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Henry & Marilyn Taub Foundation, to name a few.

In addition to new funding, we saw 9 renewals, including our successful re-competition for our status as a Lead Academic Participating Site (LAPS) for the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN), led by Mitchell Machtay and Aaron Gerds. In 2019, we received 8 training grants with over $500,000 in new annual direct specifically cancer related costs and trainees in cancer center member labs were awarded 6 new NCI F30/F31 awards.

In 2019, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center awarded over $1,290,000 in pilot funding from multiple sources to 37 recipients and thanks to VeloSano 2018, an additional $450,000 in Case CCC pilot awards were distributed.

Finally, we expanded our training program with two new NCI-funded grants that are gaining national attention: 

  • The Cancer Focused Summer Undergraduate Research Program (CanSUR), led by Mark Jackson, was a huge success, receiving over 300 applications in its first year, this program supported 32 scholars who spent their summer in Case CCC labs. Applications are rolling in for the Summer 2020 program and are being accepted through January 15.
  • Nate Berger is leading Youth Engaged in Science (YES), focused on under-represented minority middle and high school students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, along with their teachers and families.

After today, our offices will be closed with the University for the remainder of the year. As many of you are writing grant proposals and traveling for the holidays, I wish you the best and look forward to what 2020 has in store for us. More on that soon.

Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case CCC