Director's Message: Return to Campus Life

Snow and rain on Mother’s Day; not my idea of a good time and I’m sure not yours either. We’ve all spent the last month inside Zooming around our research, education, institutions, departments and laboratories and their management issues, and I am sure we were all hoping for a better weekend. But right now the sun is out, providing encouragement as we cautiously ease back into campus life.

With thoughtful oversight from the state of Ohio, Case Western Reserve University and the School of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals, we are now initiating our efforts to very slowly expand our laboratory research programs, mindful of the need to maintain our distance and to sequence and stagger on-site activities. The Cancer Center administration will maintain a low level of on-site presence but has been very active with recruitments, seminars and ongoing planning. Let us know how to help, whatever your need! Those of you with new graduate or postdoctoral trainees joining us this summer will also receive further instructions. Our fall coursework is still a work in progress, but will likely start online and move to mixed delivery (“dual”) formats later this fall.

Of course, we are all looking forward to improved treatments for COVID-19. Remdesivir is a start, as is anti-IL-6, patient-derived as well as synthetic antibody treatments, and perhaps MSC-derived cell therapy, and screening methods whether PCR, sputum, serum antibody or antigen detection. We are all wishing for improved guidance on effective tests and treatments, and honest estimates of cost, logistics and availability.

Our annual scientific retreat will still take place this summer! While we are unable to meet and gather in the traditional sense, we will take what we’ve learned from our seminar series, which has gone exceptionally well, to plan a virtual retreat. Our speakers and Ted Talks are lined up, and we are encouraging our Research Programs to put together a thoughtful gathering to assess Program progress, scientific updates and strategic visioning. These sessions, which help us track research trajectory and priorities in the coming year, are the most important of the retreat sessions, and this year even more so. You will be hearing details in the next couple weeks.

Finally, look for Cancer Center news in the next 4-6 weeks about building a Metabolomics shared resource, revamping our graduate-level cancer biology courses, expanding our Master’s level program in regenerative medicine and, offering new cell-based clinical trials. While you may be “stir-crazy,” I encourage you to plan your next creative research effort, apply for pilot funding, build collaborations, and write that next grant, clinical trial or prepare that next talk or class. Many of you have grant submissions planned for June. Remember the Cancer Center is here to help. We can identify readers for your specific aims, review your entire grant and provide support letters for the use of shared resources and the like. Please keep in touch!

Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center