2016 Wrap-Up

As you can tell from my message last week, 2017 will be a very busy year for our Center. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't offer some reflection on highlights from the past year. Let me tell you - 2016 was pretty excitement-packed and record-setting itself.  When I say that I am not just referring to Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Cleveland (and shout out during his speech at the national Moonshot Summit). We have so much to be proud of! Every accomplishment helped to frame our mind-set and fed our creativity as we began drafting our grant submission last year.

Recognizing that a call out to all achievements is impossible, and that I have erred in my omissions, let me thank you for your special contributions and if I missed you please send me a note! 


We have three members who received R35 awards over the past year:

  • Jaroslaw Maciejewski: Therapeutic Implications of Molecular Defects in Bone Marrow Failure
  • Jeremy Rich: Dynamic Complexity of Brain Tumor Stem Cells
  • Sandy Markowitz: Targeting 15-Prostaglandin Dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) in Cancer Risk, Prevention, and Treatment

Sandy Markowitz also received a very special award, the first for someone from Cleveland, the Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence for the topic of Colon Disorders, given by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences. He traveled to Dubai in December to receive the award in the company of fellow awardees Harvey Alter from the National Institutes of Health, recognized for his discovery of hepatitis C, and David Tuveson, deputy director of the Cold Spring Harbor Cancer Center, recognized for his work on pancreatic cancer. 


We also had a strong year for grants. Members received over 200 NEW grants last year: 24 were from the NCI (57 total from NIH), including 30 R01s. We also received 11 multi-investigator grants, including two NCI U01s awarded to Amitabh Chak (Using Markers to Improve Pancreatic Cancer Screening and Surveillance) and Fred Schumacher (Imputation-based Approach to Identify Low-Frequency Variants in Prostate Cancer), and Sue Flocke received a PCORI grant (Using a Teachable Moment Communication Process to Improve Outcomes of Quitline Referrals). Also, the  U54 BETRNet, led by  Amitabh Chak, was renewed.

Other notable grant awards include Bill Schiemann (F30 NCI - BORG: Role for a Novel lncRNA in Mediating Breast Cancer Metastasis and Dormancy) and Analisa DiFeo (P50 NCI - Examining the Role of the MIR-181A:WNT/B-Catenin Axis in Ovarian Cancer). In addition, two Cancer Center trainees, Jennifer Sahni (Keri lab) and Jeff Bhasin (Ting lab), received F99 awards. Only 30 awards were made nationally, and it is great that our Center received two. 

As we collect information for the renewal one number stands out:  Over the past five years, the Cancer Center and institutions have awarded over 200 pilot grant awards for research projects (Well more than 40 a year, and to over 140 members), plus supported many early-phase clinical trials. Please remember that the next time an RFA is issued.    


I would like to congratulate Cleveland Clinic on raising $3.3M in 2016. Team Case CCC had 55 members on our main team, plus two sub-teams: Keri lab (2 members) and Steinmetz lab (3 members). We are already planning for 2017 and hope you will get involved. We will soon announce the RFA for the VeloSano Pilots managed through the Case CCC. Watch the Cancer Center newsletter for updates. 


There was no shortage of member recognition this year either. Here is just a short list of accomplishments:

  • Newly Established Chairs
    • Jill Barnholtz-Sloan: Sally S. Morley Designated Professor in Brain Tumor Research
    • Ofer Reizes: Laura J. Fogarty Endowed Chair for Uterine Cancer Research
    • Marcos de Lima: Don C. Dangler Endowed Director in Stem Cell Transplant
    • Anna Mitchell: Linda and Les Vinney Endowed Director in Cancer Genetics
  • New Professorship Appointments
    • Richard Lee: Parker Hannifin-Helen Moss Cancer Research Foundation Professorship in Integrative Oncology
    • Evi Stavrou: Oscar D. Ratnoff MD Professorship in Medicine and Hematology
  • Appointments/Awards
    • Derek Abbott and Goutham Narla were inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI)
    • Mukesh Jain and Stanley Hazen were elected to National Academy of Medicine
    • Mark Chance was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
    • Anne Duli received the CWRU SOM 2015-2016 Joan Harris Staff Development Award
    • And I started two-year term as President of AACI


Finally, and quite important as we look forward, we have a few new faces on our leadership team:

Monica Webb Hooper, Director of the Office of Cancer Disparities Research

Monica came to us this spring from the University of Miami to lead our newly created Office of Cancer Disparities Research. She barely had time to move in before being thrown into a flurry of activity surrounding the Cancer Moonshot, including the local summit and the subsequent visit from VP Biden. Monica is a clinical health psychologist whose research interests are in the health behavior change of cancer risk behaviors, with an emphasis on the intersection between cancer prevention and control, and minority health and disparity elimination. 

Monica has received national recognition for her contributions to nicotine and tobacco research, and is a leader in the field of tobacco-associated health disparities. Her overarching research goal is to make a significant public health impact by reducing the prevalence of cancer overall, and cancer health disparities in high-risk populations. The long-term result would be the elimination of disparities in tobacco-attributable illnesses. 

Marty Veigl, Associate Director for Shared Resources

Marty is a long-time faculty member with our Cancer Center and has successfully led the Gene Expression and Genotyping Facility (GEGF) since 1999.  Right around the time of our External Advisory Board meeting in October we made a leadership transition, and Marty was made the Associate Director for Shared Resources. She has quite a task ahead of her with the upcoming grant renewal and site visit, but we are in good hands!

Alex Huang, Co-Leader of Case CCC Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program; Invited to Join National "Moonshot" Advisory Group

In May, Alex Huang joined Jaroslaw Maciejewski and Marcos de Lima as co-Leader of the Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program (HICB) Program. Alex was also appointed to the Blue Ribbon Panel Working Group on Cancer Immunology and Prevention, one of seven groups of experts advising the NCI's 28-member "moonshot" Blue Ribbon Panel. 

Megan Kilbane, Associate Director for Administration 

When Anne Duli retired this summer, we had quite a tough time finding a replacement who could fill her shoes. We saw this as an opportunity to regroup and restructure. Megan, current Chief of Staff and Assistant Dean for Oncology, has been appointed as Associate Director for Administration for the Cancer Center.

2016 was quite a year. And I cannot say it enough - thank you to every member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center community. Members, researchers, physicians, staff, administrators, students - you all help to make our Center a place that I am proud to lead. Now let's focus on 2017!