I am happy to announce that Dr. Daniel Persky has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hematology). He will care for patients in the Hematology Program on Smilow 7 and will focus his practice primarily on the treatment of patients with lymphoma. Dr. Persky is a highly experienced clinical investigator who will bring new clinical trial opportunities for patients with hematologic malignancies.
Dr. Persky joins us from the University of Arizona, where he is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the section of hematology/oncology. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his Medical Degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Persky did his internship and residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and his fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Nominations Open for the Annual Teaching Awards
The 2012 David S. Fischer, MD Annual Awards for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring will be awarded at the Fellows' Graduation dinner in June. One member of both the medical oncology and hematology faculty will be recognized for their outstanding teaching and mentoring of fellows. All fellows are encouraged to nominate an attending faculty member by emailing a letter of nomination to Renee Gaudette.
Smilow Town Hall Video Archive
It was great to have over 240 members of our team attend our last Town Hall meeting, either in person or via the web. We hope coming together to take note of our successes and future challenges, learning the latest on major initiatives, and seeing new faces was beneficial for all.
In the event you missed the meeting, we recorded it and posted it online.
We will hold our annual Retreat on Tuesday, May 15th. This all day event, beginning at 7:30 AM, features what promises to be an exciting agenda. As always, the goal is to stimulate scientific discussion among Cancer Center members and to foster new collaborations and projects. The full agenda will be announced shortly.
I hope you will join my family and me at this year's Closer to Free Bike Ride on September 8, 2012. Riders will have the option of a 25, 65, or 100 mile route - all starting and ending at the Yale Bowl. Last year's event was a lot of fun, and we hope to make this year's even bigger and better. The fundraising commitment is $500.
Non-Cancerous Brain Tumors Linked to Frequent Dental X-rays
People who received frequent dental X-rays in the past, before dosages were lowered, have an increased risk of developing a meningioma, the most common and potentially debilitating type of non-cancerous brain tumor, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found. The study is published online in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.
Led by Yale Cancer Center member, Elizabeth Claus, PhD, MD, researchers analyzed data from 1,433 patients who were diagnosed with the disease and were residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, and Texas. The investigators also included information from a control group of 1,350 individuals with similar characteristics who did not have the tumor. The mean age was just over 57 years for both groups.
The study found that over a lifetime, individuals who developed meningioma were more than twice as likely as those in the control group to report having received bitewing exams (which use X-ray film held in place by a tab between the teeth) on a yearly or more frequent basis.
Scientists studying a four-herb combination discovered some 1,800 years ago by Chinese herbalists have found that the substance enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients with colon cancer.
The mixture, known in China as huang qin tang, has been shown in early trials to be effective at reducing some side effects of chemotherapy, including diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The herbs also seem to bolster colon-cancer treatment: Tests on animals with tumors have shown that administering the herbs along with chemotherapy drugs restored intestinal cells faster than when chemo was used alone.
The herb combination, dubbed PHY906 by scientists, is a rare example of a plant-based product used in traditional folk medicine that could potentially jump the hurdle into mainstream American therapy. A scientific team led by Yung-Chi Cheng, an oncology researcher at Yale University, and funded in part by the National Cancer Institute, is planning to begin Phase II clinical trials to study PHY906's effectiveness in people with colon cancer.
Dan Avi Landau received a three-year postdoctoral fellowship award from the American Cancer Society to support his research to reconstruct genotype-phenotype maps in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Vamsidhar Velcheti, a second year fellow, is a recipient of the 2012 ASCO Young Investigator Award. This one-year, $50,000 award is to support physicians during the transition from fellowship to faculty appointment. Under the mentorship of David Rimm and Roy Herbst, Dr. Velcheti will evaluate the prognostic and predictive value of PD-1 ligand expression in non-small cell lung cancer by AQUA, an automated quantitative immunofluorescence-based assay.
Anne Chiang has been invited to serve on the ASCO Quality of Care Committee. Her participation on the committee will begin during the annual meeting for ASCO in June.
Kathryn Houston has joined Roy Herbst's office as the new office manager, overseeing the administrative functions for Dr. Herbst's faculty and chairman's office and the Translational Research Program. Kathryn joins Yale Cancer Center from Pfizer, Inc. where she was an Administrative Specialist.
Jessica Jorge has been promoted to a Senior Administrative Assistant. She will serve as the coordinator for the Survivorship Clinic at Smilow Cancer Hospital under the direction of Dr. Tara Sanft.
Head and Neck Cancer Screening Today
Employee Profile: Lisa Truini-Pittman
The Employee Profile recognizes the diverse contributions made by Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital staff have to meet our patient care, research, education, and outreach goals. The staff profiled are examples of the great work being done here, and the dedication and values we possess. To suggest someone to be profiled, please contact Emily Fenton.
Lisa Truini-Pittman, RN, MPH, has been Quality and Safety Coordinator at Smilow Cancer Hospital for two years. In the past, she was an oncology nursing educator. While in that role, she developed an interest in safety and quality after learning about some of the issues in healthcare that affect patient outcomes, patient and staff morale, and the financial viability of the healthcare industry. Given the opportunity to have an impact on quality and safety in Smilow, she eagerly accepted the challenge.
Lisa is responsible for overseeing all aspects of patient safety and quality care. The high nursing priorities include pain assessment, safety with restraints, falls prevention, and elimination of pressure ulcers and CLABSI (Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections). She examines events for patterns or trends such as the number of falls during specific times of the day and then organizes a group to analyze those trends, to indentify the problems in the system, and to make a plan to fix those problems going forward. Lisa commented, "I have the great privilege of working with different departments, different disciplines, and all levels of the nursing staff in order to improve patient care. Change is not always easy to initiate, but the real reward is in helping people see the ways in which the change will be positive, and how it will ultimately make things better for our patients."
Lisa is a member of several safety and quality focused committees and is an active participant in regulatory processes. Her supervisor, Catherine Lyons, RN, MS, Clinical Program Director of Smilow Cancer Hospital, commented, "Lisa brings an outstanding approach to our quality programs and is objective and non-judgmental when analyzing events with our staff and physicians. She thoroughly investigates any issues that are brought to her attention and involves all team members in order to resolve them. We are very lucky to have Lisa as a member of our team."
The development offices at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital invite you to help promote the Closer to Free Fund by displaying the "I Support Close to Free" decal in your car window. To receive one, please make an online gift and indicate in the Special Instructions section of the donation page your affiliation with YCC or Smilow. A decal will be delivered to you within a week of your gift!
Funding and Award Opportunities
Nominations are Open for the Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Awards
The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the relationship between patients and caregivers, is seeking nominations for its 2012 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award. This prestigious award, given annually since 1999, recognizes caregivers and teams of caregivers who demonstrate extraordinary compassion for patients and families.
Nominees must be paid caregivers who work in a New England healthcare organization and have direct patient contact.
Nominations may be made by patients or family members or by healthcare professionals who work with the nominee. The winner receives a $5,000 cash prize, and four finalists receive $1,000 each.
Breast Cancer Alliance Young Investigator Grant Program
The Breast Cancer Alliance invites clinical doctors and research scientists who have been appointed to a position equivalent to Assistant Professor within three years of the appointment, and whose primary focus is breast cancer research, to apply for funding for the Young Investigator Grant.
Grant applications will be available on the BCA website on May 4, 2012.
Breast Cancer Alliance Education/Outreach Grant Program
The Breast Cancer Alliance offers grants to support programs directly related to outreach and case managerial breast cancer services, including education, counseling and mammograms for the uninsured/underserved. The programs must be located in mid to southern Connecticut and/or Westchester County, New York.
Grant applications will be available on the BCA website on May 4, 2012. Application Deadline: July 31, 2012