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Fall 2009

A Space of Their Own

Women’s Cancer Center Opens

Oncology Gets Personal I Going Global to Combat Cancer I One Scientistʼs ʻBig Questionsʼ

for • ward:
1. situated in the front
2. moving ahead
3. pertaining to the future

FALL 2009

Abbey J. Porter

George Beschen
Thomas W. Durso
Jill M. Ercolino
Megan Othersen Gorman
Jill Horne
Greg Lester
Diana Quattrone

Karlyn Rosen Aires
Cover by AcquireVisual.com
President and Chief Executive Officer PHOTOGRAPHY
Jessica Hui
Senior Vice President Tommy Leonardi
and Chief Development Officer Jim Roese
Tim Sylvia
FRANKLIN HOKE Scott H. Spitzer
Assistant Vice President for Communications
Forward magazine is published twice a year by the communications
Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of the leading department of Fox Chase Cancer Center for friends of Fox Chase.
cancer research and treatment centers in the Inquiries: E-mail Editor@fccc.edu or call 215-728-3699.
United States. Founded in 1904 as one of the
nation’s first cancer hospitals, it was also among
the first institutions to earn the prestigious
comprehensive cancer center designation from
the National Cancer Institute. Today, Fox Chase
provides leading-edge treatment, conducts
world-class research, and offers special programs
in cancer prevention, detection, and survivorship,
as well as community outreach.

Fox Chase Cancer Center • 333 Cottman Ave. • Philadelphia, PA 19111-2497

1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427) • www.fccc.edu

A Comprehensive Cancer National

Center Designated by the Cancer
National Cancer Institute Network®
Fall 2009

{ menu}
A message from the president

3 Student scientists enjoy
hands-on learning

15 4 Women’s Cancer Center opens

12 Institute for Personalized Medicine
tackles cancer at individual level
Colleagues a Continent Apart 15 Fox Chase joins overseas partners
Tackling the global problem of cancer to battle cancer
means partnering with physicians 18 Patient takes message to White House
and researchers in other countries.
19 PLAYBACK: Fox Chase in the news
20 FOCUS: Five minutes with scientist
Beatrice Mintz
22 REVIEW: A call for a funding overhaul,
Fox Chase gets social online, and more
news of note
27 INTRO: New faculty and promotions

ADVANCE: An unusual breast cancer

20 drug, talking to kids about genetic
testing, and other research highlights
32 CLOSE-UP: From London to
Original Researcher Philadelphia: one patient’s journey
In five decades of asking big questions, to Fox Chase
do-it-yourself scientist Beatrice Mintz has 33 REWIND: How a pioneering
transformed the field of developmental woman may have saved Fox Chase—
genetics—and she’s not done yet. three-quarters of a century ago


A Space of Their Own

Fox Chase’s new Women’s Cancer Pictured on the cover is “Echo,” a sculpture
Center brings research, prevention, by John Magnan, part of a collection he
created to reflect his wife Mary’s experience
and treatment programs for breast
with ovarian cancer. The sculpture is on
and gynecologic cancers together display at the Women’s Cancer Center, along
under one roof, with the goal of with other pieces from the collection. To read
treating “the whole woman.” more of the story behind “Echo,” see page 6.
Story on page 4 Cover photo by Tommy Leonardi

Fal l 2009 forward 1

P R E S I D E N T ’ S M E S S A G E

{ forward thinking}

ew would question that Fox But true leadership requires more Center itself embodies that spirit with its
Chase is a leader in cancer care than a list of achievements. True leader- unique, comprehensive approach to
and research. Over the course ship means having the courage to face women’s cancers. So too does our new
of its century in existence, the the unknown, do something new, and try Institute for Personalized Medicine, which
Center has amassed a long list to help where one sees a need. In this aims to leverage the latest technology to
of laudable accomplishments, issue, as we celebrate the launch of our provide patients with customized treat-
from Nobel prizes to national “Top Docs” Women’s Cancer Center, ments based on their
rankings to prestigious awards for excel- we honor some of the pio- genetic profiles. And
True leadership
lence in nursing. neering women, past and Fox Chase physicians
present, who have helped means having the and scientists find fresh
to make Fox Chase what it perspectives and new
courage to face
is and, in the process, af- resources for grappling
fected countless lives. the unknown. with the cancer problem
There’s Anna Gray, the by partnering with their
white-gloved socialite who, more than 70 colleagues around the globe.
years ago, organized some of the first The courage and hope displayed by
public forums to educate people about the women featured in this issue, and by
cancer. And Fox Chase scientist Beatrice so many others who have dedicated
Mintz, who, after decades of ground- themselves to the fight against cancer,
breaking genetics research, looks to the serve as an inspiration and a reminder of
next experiment, the next opportunity to what is possible. We must always look
help cancer patients. And then there’s forward as we strive to understand this
Mary Magnan, a woman whose own can- disease and stop the suffering it causes.
cer journey lives on in artwork that The importance of our mission
speaks to the patients who succeed her. demands nothing less.
These women embody the spirit that
truly makes Fox Chase a leader: a spirit of
innovation, backed by a dedication to
continually pursue new and better ways Michael V. Seiden, M.D., Ph.D.
of fighting cancer. The Women’s Cancer President and Chief Executive Officer
Scott Nibauer

2 forward Fall 2009

By Megan Othersen Gorman

SCIENCE, in its purest form, is the search for answers.

Which makes it not unlike adolescence. Combine the two,
and you have Fox Chase’s perfect jewel of an initiative: the
Partnership for Cancer Research Education, which places
Philadelphia-area high school students in Fox Chase labs to
work elbow-to-elbow, petrie-dish-to-petrie-dish, with top
scientists on leading-edge cancer research.
“Working on their projects, the students learn firsthand
the excitement of doing meaningful biomedical research,”
says program director
Susanne C. Johnston,
who notes that the teens “Being a scientist is
have produced valuable hard. It’s hard to keep
your lab moving forward and
results, including contri-
Joe Hurley

get funded and published.

butions to peer-reviewed
You can lose sight of why
publications. The stu- Student scientist Lauren Johnson works on an experiment as
you got into the field in
dents spend four hours the first place. Having high her faculty mentor, immunologist Glenn F. Rall, looks on.
a week at Fox Chase school kids in the lab reminds
during the school year me why, as a young person, erations of scientists,” he says, warning that if he sounds a lit-
and participate full-time I was thrilled by science. When tle “soapy,” it’s only because he finds the program “hugely
over the summer, giving you show them something impactful” to the students, of course, but also to science in
presentations on their for the first time—primary general.
research at summer’s neurons growing in a dish, “I see my job as doing more than just the science,” says
end. for instance—you get to Rall, who is co-leader of the Immune Cell and Host Defense
The decade-long ini- experience, vicariously, Program. “It’s also educating future generations of scientists.
that ‘gee-whiz’ moment Because even if my colleagues and I do a good job with what
tiative, which targets
all over again.”
academically motivated we do, we’re not going to answer all the questions that need
students with a strong Glenn F. Rall, immunologist to be answered. This is a way to get young people trained
interest in science, aims and interested in the field so they might at least consider it
to be inclusive by encouraging participation by minority stu- as a career.”
dents—including females, who are underrepresented in For now, Lauren need only answer that time-honored
science—and those attending inner-city schools. question that high school seniors face so many times: What
Lauren Johnson, a senior at Philadelphia’s Germantown do you want to be? “I used to think I wanted to be a lawyer;
Academy, was among 17 students who graduated from the I come from a whole family of them,” she says. “But
2008/2009 program in August. Perched on a stool in the lab now… Now, I’m not so sure. I’m interested in continuing to
of her faculty “host,” immunologist Glenn F. Rall, the pursue biology, but I also want to study Spanish. I’m think-
17-year-old giggles, eyes crinkling, when asked how working ing Doctors without Borders, that sort of thing.”
at Fox Chase differs from high school chemistry lab. “In Glenn Rall just beams.

chem lab, you already know what’s supposed to happen,”

she says. “Here, you might have an idea, but no one actually The Partnership for Cancer Research Education has received funding from
knows what will happen. You’re a part of figuring that out, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Cancer Institute, the Jack
so you’re a part of something much larger.” Berry Fund, and the Henske Family Fund and is now seeking new sources of
Which, in a way, is the reason Rall embraces the program. support. For more information on the program, contact Susanne Johnston at
Susanne.Johnston@fccc.edu or 215-728-5682.
“It is, without question, a great way to reach out to new gen-

Fal l 2009 forward 3

John Magnan

THE MANY FACES of Mary Magnan make up

“Survivor,” a collage created by Mary’s husband, John Magnan.
The photos—most of them taken during Mary’s treatment for
ovarian cancer—testify to a challenge many cancer patients
face: the struggle to maintain a sense of self as one’s body
changes. Part of an exhibit John created to document
Mary’s experience, “Survivor” now greets patients at the
new Women’s Cancer Center.

4 forward Fall 2009

Putting Women’s Cancer
in Its Place
Comprehensive New Center Treats ‘Whole Woman’ By Megan Othersen Gorman

Cancer spreads. It’s the nature of the

disease to reach into as many places, both bodily and emo-
With the recent opening of
tional, as it can. To infiltrate the bloodstream, to inhabit the
subconscious, even to subsume its host’s identity. It’s the
Fox Chase’s new Women’s imperative of Fox Chase’s newly opened, state-of-the-art
Women’s Cancer Center to do the opposite—as director
Cancer Center, clinical services Robert A. Burger puts it, “to displace the disease—to dis-
lodge it, to make it other than the woman, and then to do
and research for breast and everything humanly possible to eradicate it.”
It is perhaps a subtle but PREVIEW
gynecologic cancers are housed in significant shift, this notion of
The Women’s Cancer Center:
“containing” cancer in such a
Provides comprehensive, state-of-the-art

a brand-new space conceived of way that women with breast

treatment for women with breast and
and gynecological cancers feel
gynecologic cancers.
and designed specifically to larger than the rogue cells mul-
Treats “the whole woman”—not just her

tiplying within them and,

disease—by providing wellness and sup-
therefore, empowered to fight
contain women’s cancers— them. But this idea pervades
port services.
Brings together researchers and clinicians

every aspect of the center,

figuratively as well as physically. which brings together not only
in a collaborative effort.

clinicians and researchers but

Fox Chase is, quite literally, putting also wellness and mental health experts—the idea being that
overall wellness, not just eradication of disease, is the goal.
women’s cancer in its place. Best-selling self-help author Stephen Covey might call this
a paradigm shift—a change in the perception and interpre-
tation of how something should work. In this case, that
“something” is how women with cancer are best treated and
cared for. “At the Women’s Cancer Center, the idea is to treat
the whole woman, not just the disease,” explains Burger, an
ovarian cancer specialist. “Cancer demands clinical attention,

continued on page 7

Fal l 2 0 09 forward 5

The art of cancer
Sculptures tell story of illness—and triumph
Sculptor John Magnan’s late wife Mary was diag- “When Mary and I first considered bringing the early pieces in
the series to the public, we were thinking of raising awareness of
nosed with advanced ovarian cancer in 1999. In the ovarian cancer,” Magnan says. “But the real power we’ve seen in
seven years from Mary’s diagnosis to her death, the series is in people who already have cancer, connecting with
Magnan created a series of sculptures that serve as the sculptures. I’ve had many women say to me, ‘This, finally, is the
thing that tells my story.’”
a powerful witness to his and Mary’s journey. A Mary’s own story ended with a death too soon, at age 59. But
selection of those works will be permanently dis- Magnan insists that hers is ultimately a story of triumph, not
played at Fox Chase’s new Women’s Cancer Center. tragedy. “We talked many, many times about what it means to
have a shortened but more meaningful life,” he says. “Many peo-

he final work in sculptor John Magnan’s 16-piece series ple live very long but aimless lives. Mary’s life was shortened by
depicting his late wife Mary’s journey with ovarian can- cancer, but it was also enriched by it. She became a spokesperson
cer is called “Echo.” The 3 ½-foot wooden sculpture of for the sculptures and her experience of her disease. She con-
a woman in an athlete’s stance, head tipped skyward, nected with people; she helped them.”
strong arms raised in a “V” of triumph, was, he says, After a national tour that included 17 cities, “Body Image/
inspired by Mary’s undaunted spirit—but also that of the many Body Essence” has found a permanent home at Fox Chase. Mag-
women similarly struggling with ovarian cancer with whom he nan chose the Center because of president and CEO Michael V.
shared countless doctor’s offices and waiting rooms over the years. Seiden, who, while leading the gynecologic cancer program at
“In ‘Echo’s’ stance of power and determination, I see the Massachusetts General Hospital, served as Mary’s oncologist from
strength and spirit of all women fighting ovarian cancer,” says her diagnosis until her death.
the Massachusetts-based artist. “They find meaning through their Magnan’s hope is that his sculptures continue to serve as a
bravery and determination to hang on to a new nor- conduit for the women who view and commune with them at the
malcy, and that is their victory.” Women’s Cancer Center. “My fondest wish for my art is that it
The victory of Magnan’s collection, called “Body validates the cancer patient’s experience,” he says. “In times of
Image/Body Essence,” is that it artfully depicts stress, we all want to be validated, to know that we’re not weird
exactly that—the “new normalcy” of living with or different, and that our trials and tribulations are valid. Cancer
cancer: the hair loss, the loss of fertility, the IV pole as patients deal with huge loss and with compromise; they need to
constant companion. And the honesty and humor of the know that we know it. That in and of itself is empowering.”
work (one piece, called “Chemo Brain,” features a blank
section of wall with the inscription, “I had a great idea For more information on “Body Image/Body Essence,” including
for this sculpture, but now I can’t think of what it a link to exhibit images and the artist’s commentary, visit
was”) resonate with women who have walked www.bodyimage-bodyessence.com.
the same path as Mary.


with its 2,000 ribbons NEVER GROWS walnut carving,
of “hair,” exhibits the BACK THE SAME resulted from
widening part often (a.k.a. “Bobby”), Mary’s request
seen on women a 52-inch sculpture of her husband,
who are beginning bristling with bobby in the midst of
chemotherapy—an pins, reflects the her chemotherapy,
outward sign of cancer humor Magnan often to make her a wig
that may drive home hears expressed from wood.
the reality of a journey by women who
just beginning. have undergone
when they discuss
the topic of hair.
6 forward Fall 2009

continued from page 5

of course, but because cancer isn’t all of who the patient is, it won’t be the
sole focus of her care.”
DAY 17,
a mirror framed Burger pauses. “It’s in this way,” he says, “that cancer becomes viewed
in carved cherry as a manageable entity.”
wood, is dedicated The paradigm shifts—and cancer is put in its place.
to a woman who
told Magnan the
story of how she
lost all her hair, all at A SPACE OF ONE’S OWN
once, while shampooing
The Women’s Cancer Center brings every aspect of cancer care for
and shuddered to think
what she would see when women, from risk assessment and prevention to actual treatment and
she looked in the mirror. support for survivors, together under one roof. At present, the center
provides diagnostic imaging services and outpatient clinical care, with
plans to add a recovery and resource center designed to support patients’
quality of life, as well as other wellness resources, in the coming months.
The facility is expected to be fully functional by spring.
John Magnan’s sculptures offer what Located in the newly expanded Robert C. Young, M.D., Pavilion,
he calls a “visual vocabulary” for the center provides a physical space designed to support healing, with
warm colors, natural lighting, and waiting areas that allow for both pri-
ovarian cancer. “Art offers a unique vacy and interaction. It is in this environment that expert surgeons,
medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and pathologists work side-
pathway to the psyche,” he explains.
by-side to provide patients with comprehensive, individually tailored
“Through it, you can communicate in treatment plans.
In addition to providing patient services, the center works in part-
ways that you can’t often manage
nership with Fox Chase research programs, including the recently
verbally, especially when what you launched Institute for Personalized Medicine. (See story on page 12.)
This integrative approach, a hallmark of Fox Chase, is one that senior
have to talk about—like cancer—is so vice president and chief scientific officer Jeff Boyd says the center will
painful. Art can speak more deeply in augment. “Laboratory scientists have to be informed by clinicians
about what the bedside concerns are,” he explains. “Theirs is a yin-
those circumstances, and it can touch yang relationship.
Photos: Tim Sylvia, Jim Roese

you in ways you never anticipated.” continued on page 8

SHARPS!—a wooden egg covered with

46,000 pin heads, atop a prickly nest of the
cut-off ends—took seven months to make. Its
creation became a calming practice for
Magnan during his wife’s convalescence.

Fal l 2009 forward 7

“Because cancer
isn’t all of who
the patient is,
it won’t be
the sole focus
of her care.”
—Robert A. Burger, director,
Women’s Cancer Center
ROBERT A. BURGER, director of the Women’s
Cancer Center, discusses the center’s integrated
services during a consultation.

Joe Hurley
continued from page 7

“The vast majority of cancer researchers in the United Farber/Harvard Cancer Center prior to coming to Fox
States go to work every day and don’t ever see a cancer Chase. “So care for these cancers typically becomes ‘siloed,’ or
patient,” Boyd adds. “It’s extraordinarily beneficial for every- housed in separate departments in separate areas of hospitals,
one—clinicians, researchers, and patients alike—to integrate even though the cancers themselves share many common
the lab and the clinical components. It’s an approach that threads.”
makes absolute sense, and yet it’s rare, even unique.” The genetic link between the two is well-established:
A woman with an alteration in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
is at heightened risk of developing both breast and ovarian
A UNIFIED APPROACH cancer. There also are hormonal links between the cancers’
Perhaps even more rare is another causes, and they respond to many of
integration represented by the cen- the same preventive strategies. But
ter: that of breast and gynecological the cancers’ connection doesn’t end
cancers. Despite commonalities there. Treatment for breast cancer
between the two, cancer centers often leads to early menopause,
tend to treat them separately. Fox which can, in turn, cause gyneco-
Chase is thought to be the first logic problems. And strategies to
NCI-designated cancer center to decrease a woman’s risk of ovarian
unify its research and treatment cancer—say, by removing her
approaches in an entity that ovaries—subsequently decrease her
addresses the full spectrum of risk of breast cancer. Women with
women’s cancers. breast and ovarian cancers also share
“Breast cancer care tends to fall a vulnerability to issues with body
under the domains of medical image and sexuality.
oncology, radiation oncology, and Beyond that, Burger says,
surgery, while care for gynecologic “there’s a unity that we’ve observed
cancer typically falls under the departments of obstetrics and among women with gender-specific cancers, both breast
gynecology,” explains president and CEO Michael V. Seiden, and ovarian, but there’s never been one organization that
who led the gynecologic cancer program at Dana- deals with both cancers in the same space, with a common

8 forward Fall 2009

approach. There’s a breast cancer coalition, a cervical can-
cer coalition, an ovarian cancer coalition. …But there isn’t,
as yet, a collective, woman-specific organization out there,
and there’s a need for it. It’s my hope that the Women’s
Cancer Center will provide a beacon for the formation of
such a group.”
It is, at the very least, a place to begin.

Even as it breaks new ground, the Women’s Cancer Center
builds on Fox Chase’s historical strength in women’s cancers.
Fox Chase is one of only five institutions in the country to
receive a prestigious National Cancer Institute-sponsored

Renderings: Ewing Cole

grant for a Specialized Program of Research Excellence in the
prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of ovarian cancer. Long

continued on page 10

UNDER ONE ROOF: Located in Fox Chase’s newly expanded Robert C. Young, M.D.,
Pavilion, the Women’s Cancer Center brings research, prevention, and treatment
programs for women’s cancers together in a space that provides both leading-edge
technology and a comfortable, supportive environment. Already providing diagnostic
imaging services and outpatient care, the center is expected to be fully functional—
and the final phase of construction complete—by spring.
Fal l 2009 forward 9

SPACE FOR HEALING: The newly constructed center
features warm colors, natural lighting, and waiting areas

Paul Cohen
that allow for both privacy and interaction. At right, medical
oncologist Ramona F. Swaby, a member of the center’s
breast cancer team, examines a patient.
Jessica Hui

A landmark University of California, Los Angeles study sev-
eral years ago found that a woman’s reaction to physical and
emotional stress—such as that of living with cancer—is
utterly distinct from a man’s. Less fight-or-flight than what
continued from page 9
the researchers call “tend-and-befriend,” women under stress
known for its robust clinical trials program, Fox Chase leads are inclined to reach out to other women to soothe them-
two dozen clinical trials involving breast or ovarian cancer, selves. And thanks to a rush of the neurotransmitter
providing patients with access to the latest treatments. oxytocin, that strategy works. Specifically, women who reach
In addition, nearly two decades ago, medical oncologist out to other women in times of stress feel less out of control
Lori Goldstein founded the Breast Evaluation Center, of and more, well, themselves.
which she is now director. Newly diagnosed breast cancer “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you walked in the door of
patients can consult with an entire team of specialists and your doctor’s office or hospital and felt empowered as
develop a treatment plan during a one-day visit to the cen- opposed to weak and diminished?” Burger asks. “That is
ter, now part of the Women’s Cancer Center. And the what the Women’s Cancer Center, girded by Fox Chase’s
pioneering Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Pro- long tradition of clinical and research expertise, is endeavor-
gram was founded in 1991 to provide personalized ing to do—to set women with cancer apart from men with
prevention strategies and early detection services for women cancer so women can find support in each other, and to set
with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. women’s cancers apart from the identities of the women who
However, as Burger puts it, “While we certainly have have them.”
longstanding strengths in the areas of breast and ovarian can- To make the cancers “other.”
cers, there hasn’t been, until now, what I’d call a ‘neural To contain them, to eradicate them.
network’ that connects those strengths in a significant way— And that work starts with giving women a space of their
in our institution or any other. I see the Women’s Cancer own.

Center as the body that will create and nurture that neural

For more information on the Women’s Cancer Center,
visit www.fccc.edu/wcc.

10 forward Fall 2009

Strong together
Advisory council spreads word about Women’s Cancer Center

hen she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in among Fox Chase’s most generous supporters. “I’m most inter-
her early 30s, Pam Strisofsky saw 10 oncolo- ested in exposing a larger constituency of women to the Women’s
gists in the space of a week at prestigious Cancer Center,” she says. “Fox Chase offers world-class care and
institutions up and down the East Coast. “In a personal, reassuring touch that larger institutions often do not,
virtually all of those places, I felt like a num- and now we’re able to do it in beautiful new surroundings.”
ber,” she recalls. One doctor told her, less than 30 seconds into The council began to coalesce at a dinner the Keiths hosted in
her consultation, that she needed a radical hysterectomy. April. The event included some 25 women interested in the new
At Fox Chase, she says, “my case was reviewed by a team … center, along with president and CEO Michael V. Seiden. “Their
and they said things like, ‘Here’s what we think is best, and here’s enthusiasm for this entire effort was really remarkable—they
why.’ They took the time to explain everything in detail. It made were full of suggestions and ideas,” Keith recalls. (One idea—for
a huge difference.” Fox Chase physicians to lead monthly lunchtime webinars on
Today, Pam draws on her experience as a cancer patient women’s cancers—is among the initiatives planned for next
more than 10 years ago to inform her role as a year.) Members also offer their own considerable
founding member of the Leadership Advisory business acumen and experience when it comes
Council for Fox Chase’s new Women’s Cancer to realizing the ambitious vision for the cen-
Center. The center provides comprehensive ter. “This is a group of professional women
services for women with breast and who are accustomed to getting things
gynecologic cancers in a newly con- done,” Keith says.
structed facility. (See story on page 4.) On the “raising visibility” front,
Made up of more than 40 thought council members have been busy organ-
leaders from the business and civic izing outreach events at community
communities who offer ideas and advice venues and for professional women’s
to center leadership, the volunteer coun- groups in the Philadelphia region. Recog-
cil focuses on raising funds and visibility nizing the significant role of spouses and
and enhancing the patient experience. partners in women’s cancer experiences—
and how the male perspective can strengthen
A good investment the work of the Women’s Cancer Center—the coun-
Like Strisofsky, many of the council’s members are cancer cil is recruiting men, too.
survivors. Strisofsky says her story illustrates the special dimen-
sion of treatment that the center embodies—comprehensive, Sharing stories
seamless care provided by a coordinated team. “Since our dinner, I have talked with many people whose stories
As managing director and chief financial officer of TL Ventures, amaze me with the strength, vitality, and hope that is so much a
a venture capital firm based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Strisofsky part of the cancer experience,” Strisofsky says. “This is what we
oversees a portfolio of more than $1.5 billion. She knows a good do—we share our stories to get stronger and to help each other.”
investment when she sees one, and she sees one in Fox Chase. Raising the regional and national profile of the Women’s Can-
“Fox Chase isn’t just a research facility, and it isn’t just a hos- cer Center is Job One, she says: “There are too many women who
pital,” she says. “It’s like an ecosystem unto itself, and everyone get diagnosed and don’t know what to do next or get referred to
there has this incredible passion for their core mission. They’re a hospital that isn’t the right fit. I want people to recognize the
pooling all of their strengths in the Women’s Cancer Center.” Women’s Cancer Center as the place to come. I want to be a
The council is led by Margot Keith, a longtime member of Fox resource for making that happen in any way I can.”
Chase’s board of directors who, along with husband Bob Keith, is —George Beschen

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 11

By Thomas W. Durso Illustration by AcquireVisual.com

Setting the stage

Two women: Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith. “Personalized medicine is truly transformational,” Boyd says.
“It’s impossible to overstate this inflection point that cancer
Each suffering from advanced ovarian cancer, they arrive medicine is entering. The whole premise of how cancers are
for treatment and embark upon the same regimen. treated becomes not the tissue of origin, or how it looks under
Surgery. a microscope, how it looks to the surgeon, how it looks to
Then chemotherapy: carboplatin and taxol. the pathologist, but how it looks to the DNA sequencer.”
Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith likely will survive for a period A number of factors make Fox Chase an ideal place to
of time with no evidence of their disease, but eventually their move forward with such an approach. For starters, the Cen-
cancers probably will return. They will be treated—again, ter long ago earned a reputation for its expertise in cancer
in identical ways. They will beat the cancer for a while, and genetics, and its already substantial biosample repository pro-
then the cycle will begin anew until, finally, the disease wins. vides a wealth of genetic information about individual patient
Today, says Jeff Boyd, senior vice president and chief sci- tumors to build on. And Fox Chase’s highly regarded clinical
entific officer, “every breast cancer, every colon cancer, every trials program, which tests a broad spectrum of novel thera-
ovarian cancer, every brain cancer gets the same therapy, peutics in patients with advanced cancers, has enabled it to
regardless of what we know to be different molecular, genetic build strong relationships with pharmaceutical firms, setting
profiles of these tumors.”
That is about to change, and Fox Chase is playing a key
role in that transformation. In May, the Center announced TERM DEFINED
the launch of its Institute for Personalized Medicine, which DNA sequencing: A process for determining the sequence
seeks to match emerging targeted drug therapies to the unique of nucleotides, the building blocks that make up the “back-
genetic profiles of individual patient tumors on a much larger bone” of a DNA strand. Once laborious to carry out, this
process can now be performed rapidly by machines called
scale than previously possible, in hopes of making today’s one-
DNA sequencers.
size-fits-all approach to treatment a thing of the past.

12 forward Fall 2009

the stage for future joint efforts as those companies seek to test more precisely pinpointing which combination of therapies
therapies targeting cancer’s genetic roots. will be most effective in a particular patient.
“This initiative will significantly expand our under- While Simon works in lung cancer, he notes that the
standing of cancer at the individual and the genomic level,” institute will seek to apply his principles in treating other
says Biao Luo, who joined Fox Chase as the institute’s direc- types of tumors. The
tor in September after five years with the Broad Institute of institute’s focus, after all, PREVIEW
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard is on a tumor’s DNA, Fox Chase’s new Institute for Personalized
University. “We will then use that comprehensive knowl- not where in the body it Medicine seeks to replace “one size fits all” cancer
edge to rationally develop personalized cancer therapies. forms. treatment with individually tailored therapies by:
“Personalized medicine has been talked about for some “What’s good for Joe Using leading-edge technology to expand the

time, but now we are at a stage where we can develop per- may not be good for understanding of cancer genetics.
sonalized therapies in a systematic way, thanks to Mary,” he explains. “A Partnering with the pharmaceutical industry

breakthroughs in areas like DNA sequencing technology.” different cocktail of to conduct clinical trials of experimental therapies.
George Simon, director of thoracic oncology, is one of drugs might work better
Matching emerging, targeted drug therapies

the field’s pioneers. Simon, who joined Fox Chase in 2008, for one person than for to the unique genetic profiles of individual patient
is among a group of researchers whose preliminary work another. Currently, at tumors.
strongly suggests that designing chemotherapy treatments most treatment centers,
based on the genetic makeup of a patient’s tumor greatly everyone gets the same
increases response and survival rates. Fox Chase is now tak- cocktail. This ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is going to change.
ing part in a multi-institution international trial designed to At Fox Chase, we are able to design an individualized treat-
confirm those preliminary findings. At the same time, Simon ment strategy for each patient. This is not a technology of the
and his team are developing improved methods of cus- future; it is happening here and now.”
tomizing treatments that take into consideration a wider
range of clinical and genetic information, with the aim of continued on page 14

Fal l 2009 forward 13

continued from page 13

A time of opportunity And what does that mean for Mrs. Jones and for Mrs.
The Institute for Personalized Medicine is no mere virtual Smith? In five or 10 years, when they show up at Fox Chase,
program. It has dedicated space and a dedicated staff, led the first thing each of their physicians will do is order a full
by Luo, and has acquired the kind of high-end sequencing genome sequencing. Then, instead of undergoing the same,
technology required to evaluate tumors at the genetic level. cookie-cutter treatment, the women will be categorized
And it is already gearing up to demonstrate to the phar- based on the genetic abnormalities that caused their tumors
maceutical industry that it is a viable partner to conduct to begin forming. And they will be treated with therapies
clinical trials of the targeted therapies the companies are that have been shown—thanks to trials conducted under the
developing. auspices of the Institute for Personalized Medicine—to have
“The Institute is really a research and development entity the greatest efficacy against those abnormalities.
that feeds in, ultimately, to a clinical entity,” Boyd says. “We are at a time of great opportunity to advance cancer
“We’re going to spend the first year using the technology, treatment,” Luo says. “Many drug companies are developing
staff, and instrumentation to show that we can sequence a potent inhibitors of the molecules essential to cancer
large number of tumors in a short period of time and pub- growth. This is an ideal time to leverage our strength in
lish a peer-reviewed paper on the results. At that point, translational medicine to take full advantage of the genomic
corporate and academic partners will be much more inter- information becoming available to us.
ested in talking to us than if we hadn’t shown we can do what “The opportunity at Fox Chase that appealed to me most
we say we can.” was to join this integrated approach to fighting cancer.”

The role of personality in personalized treatment
ters” and “monitors,” whose differing ap- that would provide patients with varying

ehavioral researcher Suzanne M. Miller
wants to put the person in personalized proaches to their health can significantly affect amounts of information depending on their
medicine. the success of cancer treatment. Blunters personality types. These multimedia, virtual
While her colleagues embark on their downplay the impact of potentially threaten- health centers would guide patients through
promising work to link genetic research to ing personal health issues and avoid the decision-making process and educate them
clinical therapies through the new Institute confronting them. Monitors, on the other hand, in clear, understandable terms about their con-
for Personalized Medicine, Miller, who is direc- are hypervigilant about their health, prone to ditions.
tor of the Psychosocial and Behavioral extreme health-related worry, and tend to Miller notes that while her work has focused
Medicine Program, is researching how a experience more symptoms and treatment side on cancer, it applies throughout medicine and
patient’s psychological reaction to her diag- effects than blunters do. Miller estimates that should be considered as President Obama and
nosis and treatment affects the effectiveness most patients fall into one of these two cate- Congress struggle to reform what most
of that treatment. gories. One goal of personalized medicine, she acknowledge is a broken health-care system.
“My work, since before the advent of ‘per- maintains, should be to foster in patients a bal- “As we move through health-care reform,
sonalized medicine,’ has been about tailoring ance between willful ignorance and obsessive there’s more of a focus on access to care,
psychosocial and counseling interventions to dwelling. which is important but also implies volume—
the individual patient,” she says. “The differences that are expressed in indi- seeing a lot of patients in a short time,” she
In a commentary published in the Septem- vidual personalities and mental states are as says. “The challenge is how best to include
ber 10 issue of Oncology Times, Miller much a factor in the quality of cancer treat- everyone in the system while at the same
argues that personalized medicine ment as are genetic differences,” she time personalizing their treatment, not only
must take into account not writes in her commentary. medically but also psychologically.”
only a patient’s genetic Fox Chase psychosocial and
profile, but also her psy- behavioral researchers are work-
chological profile, if truly
personalized treatment
is to take place.
ing to take psychological
differences into account in
developing tools for cancer
For more information on
Suzanne Miller and to link to her
commentary in Oncology Times, visit
She describes two patients. For example, they are
types of patients, “blun- creating computer programs

14 forward Fall 2009

Fox Chase
By Jill Horne and Abbey J. Porter

Cancer is a global problem, “The United States is a leader in cancer care and research,
and it will take the combined strength and ingenuity of sci- yet our colleagues throughout the world can provide valuable
entists and clinicians worldwide, working together, to defeat insight in the quest to understand risk factors and develop
it. At least, that’s the perspective of medical oncologist Paul new therapies,” he says. “International partnerships can offer
F. Engstrom. He should know: a veteran Fox Chase physi- fresh perspectives and greater understanding of factors such
cian, Engstrom also plays a key role in an initiative that as environment, culture, and genetics in cancer.”
reaches across an ocean to share knowledge and save lives.
Engstrom, a specialist in gastrointestinal cancers, is pro- Breaking down barriers
gram director for the American Russian Cancer Alliance. Formalized in 2001, ARCA includes Fox Chase, the N.N.
The collaborative venture brings together some of the top Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center (the Russian coun-
cancer physicians and researchers in the United States and terpart to the National Cancer Institute), the Russian
Russia—an effort Engstrom finds well worthwhile. Nuclear Industry Network, and the University of Maryland
continued on page 16

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 15

“Medicine can be a universal language.
The fact that we have different backgrounds doesn’t seem to
matter when we’re talking about helping our patients.”
continued from page 15
logical advances with his Russian peers. “They’re a little
Biotechnology Institute. Its aim: to pool members’ expertise behind us,” he says, “but they’re good at catching up fast.”
and experience to advance cancer research and its clinical
application. An international training ground
Engstrom points to ARCA’s work in lung cancer as a Fox Chase participates in the global cancer community in
crowning achievement. With one of the highest smoking another way as well: by bringing young scientists from
rates in the world, Russia offers a unique environment for abroad to train in its laboratories. Just ask Ilya Serebriiskii.
studying tobacco use. Research by the alliance has identified Serebriiskii left his native Russia in the mid-1990s to pur-
genes related to nicotine dependence and will help clinicians sue his postdoctoral training at Fox Chase. Almost 15 years
in Russia and the United States to provide intervention and later, Serebriiskii—now a staff scientist in the lab of molec-
treatment for smokers. ARCA efforts also have led Russia to ular biologist Erica A. Golemis—is helping to forge
adopt anti-smoking policies. In addition, the collaboration connections between the Center and other young scientists
benefits the United States by giving U.S. scientists access to in his home country.
an additional sample population that can help to shed light Graduate students and postdoctoral research associates
on important research questions. represent a critical component of institutions like Fox Chase,
Partnerships like ARCA promote not only information- performing important work in the laboratories of senior sci-
sharing, but also something more fundamental, says Richard entists while at the same time gaining valuable experience.
E. Greenberg, chief of urologic oncology at Fox Chase and “Since Fox Chase does not have its own graduate school,
surgical director for ARCA. we always have to be looking for promising young scientists
“Building relationships with physicians in other coun- to work here,” Golemis says. More than a decade ago, she
tries is very helpful,” he says. “It breaks down barriers that are and Serebriiskii decided to expand their trainee pool by
put up just because of differences in politics and language. reaching out to institutions in Russia.
Medicine can be a universal language. The fact that we have At the time, a downturn in the Russian economy was
different backgrounds doesn’t seem to matter when we’re making it difficult for researchers there to fund the resources
talking about helping our patients.” needed for bench training. But the financial crunch helped
Greenberg has been instrumental in establishing a group jump-start a partnership: Fox Chase gained trainees with a
that began as an ARCA offshoot. In 2001, he showed col- first-rate education and fresh ideas, and the young
leagues at the Blokhin center how to perform a nerve-sparing researchers gained the opportunity to continue their training
prostatectomy, a procedure that can preserve sexual function with access to modern technologies and equipment. The
in prostate cancer patients. The physicians’ relationship con- program began with the Russian State Medical University
tinued to grow, and four years ago, the in Moscow and later expanded to include other top Russian
Russian Association of Urologic research institutes.
Oncologists held its inaugural About 50 Russian students have
meeting, with Greenberg as the trained at Fox Chase to date. “Students
sole U.S. representative. Since who trained here have gone on to do
then, Greenberg has spent a week very well,” Golemis notes. “They
in Moscow each fall, giving have been listed on publica-
lectures and sitting in on tions in very high-profile
panel discussions journals, which we judge
at the association’s as a significant success.”
annual conference. The program ben-
Greenberg sees efits not only the
his role primarily Center, Serebriiskii
as sharing techno- adds, but also the

16 forward Fall 2009

students’ home country, to which many return. “We are pro-
viding something back to Russia that helps to raise a new PHILADELPHIA
generation of scientists there,” he says.
The program depends partly on U.S. grant funding to
pay trainees’ expenses and stipends, and with the current stiff MEDICINE
competition for grants, finances are a challenge. “We really A clinical connection to the world
want to continue,” Golemis says, but the initiative faces an
uncertain future.

Israel: connection and collaboration

W hile Fox Chase scientists and physicians collaborate
with peers in other countries to advance cancer
research and treatment, the Center provides world-class
The Center’s collaboration with Ben-Gurion University of care to people in need from around the world, thanks in
the Negev in Israel has gone even further than attracting part to an organization called Philadelphia International
trainees. “Our relationship has focused not only on attract-
Through PIM, Fox Chase and several other Philadelphia-
ing Israeli students, but also on fostering scientific
area hospitals provide specialty treatment to patients who
collaboration,” says vice president and deputy scientific lack access to such care in their home countries. The non-
director Jonathan Chernoff, who has been instrumental in profit helps patients and their families choose appropriate
developing the partnership, formalized in 2003. treatment providers based on their needs and assists them
Located in Israel’s southern negev, or desert, region, the with travel and accommodations, translation services, and
university focuses on study and research in areas including other issues associated with their traveling to Philadelphia.
environmental science, biotechnology, and medicine. Israeli Requests for help can come from physicians, as well as
students who train at Fox Chase are mentored jointly by sen- from patients and their families.
ior scientists at both institutions. The scientists, in turn, “PIM lets us expand Fox Chase’s mission by reaching
collaborate on research into important cancer questions, out to patients and health-care providers around the
from genetic risk factors to the role played by viruses and the world,” says Susan H. Tofani, senior vice president of clini-
cal services and business development, who has been
basis for cancer progression. A project involving the study
involved with PIM since its inception in 1999 and serves on
of the “natural killer” cells involved in immune response
its board of directors.
earned joint funding from the United States-Israel Binational PIM also offers training and education programs
Science Foundation—a development that, Chernoff hopes, through which Fox Chase physicians travel to hospitals
might lead to published papers and future joint projects. abroad to share information about the services they pro-
The institutions also co-sponsor a seminar series that vide. In addition, the Center hosts PIM seminars for
alternates between the university and the Center, and fac- health-care leaders from other countries who want to learn
ulty members at both Fox Chase and Ben-Gurion are about cutting-edge Fox Chase programs such as risk assess-
seeking adjunct appointments at their respective partnering ment and clinical genetics and how they might start similar
institutions. services at their own institutions.
Even as he, too, faces the ongoing challenge of finding To date, PIM has established relationships with health-
sufficient funding for the program, Chernoff works to care agencies in parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia
and is seeking to develop new relationships in Canada and
expand the effort. “We would like to increase participation,
South and Central America.
so I make it my business to search out potential collabora-
“Fox Chase has a wealth of resources to offer,” Tofani
tors,” he says. “You might say I’m a matchmaker.” says, “and PIM has given us an organized way to provide
His efforts are likely needed. When the problem is can- access to these services to a much wider audience.”
cer, the saying “There’s strength in numbers” seems especially
fitting when it comes to finding a solution.

For more information on Fox Chase’s collaborative
training programs with institutions in Russia and Israel, visit

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 17

By Jill M. Ercolino

eth Corkery doesn’t often seek the spotlight, but which she was treated with an experimental drug that has
when she was handed a once-in-a-lifetime oppor- stabilized her disease.
tunity to be on TV and possibly meet President “It was a rebirth for me,” she says.
Barack Obama in June, she and her husband Corkery’s life has been full of surprises—some good,
packed their bags, jumped on a train, and departed Philadel- some bad—since she learned she had the disease in 2001.
phia for Washington, D.C. Her VIP trip to the White House, she says, was one of the
The 43-year-old mother of two, who with the help of better ones.
Fox Chase doctors and investigative drugs is living with “It was a wonderful experience to see the president,”
advanced breast Corkery says, adding that she was impressed with the man
cancer, was among and his message. “He didn’t have a teleprompter, and he
164 people selected answered everyone’s questions from the heart. He told us he
by ABC News to was going to make the plan work.”
pepper the presi- Although she didn’t get the chance—only a handful of
dent with questions participants were called on during the 90-minute Q-and-
during a “Prime- A—Corkery wanted to quiz Obama on whether his plan
time” forum on would limit patients’ access to experimental treatments,
Obama’s health-care which have given hope to her and many others diagnosed
reform plan. with chronic, life-threatening diseases.
Not long after, Was she disappointed that she didn’t get a turn? Not at all.
the Corkerys found “I wasn’t alone,” Corkery says. “A lot of people didn’t get
themselves in the to ask their questions. When we left, I didn’t see an unhappy
Jessica Hui

East Wing of the face in the bunch. It was all very positive.”

White House, sur-
Beth Corkery is living with advanced breast

rounded by glaring cancer, with help from an experimental ON THE WEB
lights and cameras, treatment received at Fox Chase. For more information on Fox Chase’s clinical trials
rubbing shoulders program, visit www.fccc.edu/cancer/clinicalTrials. To read more
with moderators Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson. The about Beth Corkery’s story, see www.fccc.edu/topics/corkery.
president, who entered just moments before taping began,
ventured into the audience during commercial breaks.
“He was within touching distance at one point,” Cork-
ery says, “but just as he neared our row, they called, ‘Thirty
seconds!’ and he was gone.”

‘It was all very positive’

Even making the trip to Washington wouldn’t have seemed
possible a few years ago when, severely weakened by a can-
cer that had spread to her lungs, bones, and liver, Corkery
could barely get off the sofa. She made an amazing rebound,
however, after participating in a Fox Chase clinical trial in

18 forward Fall 2009


{ playback}

FOX CHASE STAFF MEMBERS often are called upon by the media to share their expertise in cancer care
and research. Following are highlights of recent Fox Chase media coverage.

‘New York Times’ Covers Struggle to Defeat Cancer

way scientists think about cancer or doctors rejected by reviewers due to a lack of prelim-

n April, former president Robert C. Young
talked with New York Times reporter Gina treat it. Young agreed: “Every organization inary data.
Kolata about the nation’s struggle to says, ‘Oh, we want to fund high-risk research.’ “They said I don’t have preliminary
defeat cancer, setting the stage for two sub- And I think they mean it. But as ahead-
matter of results,” Jaffe said. “Of course I don’t. I need
shot ?
sequent front-page articles. fact, they don’t do it.“ grant money to get them.” Although Jaffe
The first article, published in April, pointed In June, in an article featuring both Young persists with her research, her situation shows
out that the death rate for cancer had dropped and researcher Eileen K. Jaffe, the newspaper why people with bold new ideas often just
by only about 5 percent from 1950 to 2005, further explored the limitations of the federal give up, Young said. “You can’t prove it will
while the death rate for heart disease dropped grant system in funding research likely to work in advance,” he said of plans like Jaffe’s.
by 64 percent, and for flu and pneumonia, take significant steps toward curing cancer. “If you could, it wouldn’t be a high-risk idea.”
58 percent. The article referenced Jaffe’s proposal to pur-
Kolata argued that there has never been sue an entirely new class of drugs that could To read about a hearing convened to discuss
enough funding for the kind of innovative disable certain proteins that fuel cancer federal funding following publication of the
studies that could fundamentally change the cells—one of a number of novel proposals New York Times article, see page 22.

Radiation Oncologist Associated Press Reports Scientist Discusses

Joins Expert Panel on New Prostate Cancer Stem Cell Research in
on ‘Today’ Screening Guidelines ‘U.S. News & World

ric M. Horwitz, chairman and clinical

n April, Associated Press reporter Marilynn
director of the department of radiation Marchione spoke with Robert G. Uzzo,

eputy scientific director Jonathan
oncology, appeared in June as a guest chairman of the department of surgical Chernoff was featured in July in a U.S.
on NBC’s “Today” show, which dominates oncology, about new prostate cancer screen- News & World Report article about
the morning news arena ing guidelines issued by the American research involving embryonic stem cells, as
with an average of 5.9 Urological Association. well as other types of stem cells that show
million daily viewers According to an expert panel, many men promise to advance medical treatments.
nationwide. do not need yearly screening after age 50, as “I’ve never been in a field that is moving
Horwitz joined an had been previously recommended. In recent at this pace,” Chernoff noted.
expert panel to discuss years, annual screening has been associated The article was published several months
the future of cancer care with unnecessary biopsies and treatment, after the Obama administration lifted certain
and new treatments with insufficient proof that it saves lives. restrictions on government funding of stem
under development. The show was the final “Many doctors are already advising cell research.
episode in a four-part series that also looked longer testing intervals,” Uzzo said, adding

at the cost of cancer care, survivorship chal- that, depending on initial test results, “I don’t ON THE WEB
lenges, and other cancer-related questions. insist on yearly screening.” To read more about how Fox Chase
”We’re understanding much more about The story was published by prominent is making news, visit www.fccc.edu/news.
the genetics … but there are lots of parts we media outlets across the country.
still don’t know about what causes cancers,”
Horwitz said.
To view the “Today” segment, visit ‘Cancer Conversations’ Airs on Radio
www.fccc.edu/physicians/directory.html and

urgeon Robert G. Uzzo is hosting an ongoing series of 60-second educa-
click on “Eric M. Horwitz, MD.”
tional messages about cancer on KYW Newsradio 1060 AM, Philadelphia’s
most popular radio station. The series, dubbed “Cancer Conversations with
Dr. Robert Uzzo,” is intended to create a dialogue with listeners, who can visit
www.fccc.edu/cancer/conversation.html to listen to archived messages, post
questions about cancer, and read answers to previous questions.

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 19


{ focus}

The Iconoclast
and Her ‘Big Questions’
By George Beschen

FOX CHASE’S BEATRICE MINTZ has been at the forefront of

developmental genetics for nearly 50 years. Her groundbreaking
Q You have said your experiments
always begin with a big question.
What was the first of these questions?
contributions to science include the recognition of the central I was still a graduate student at the
role of stem cells in cell development and cancer, as well as the A University of Iowa when I asked
myself the question that would still be
introduction of techniques that allow scientists to transfer genes central to my research when I came to
from one species to another. Mintz characterizes her career as Fox Chase in 1960: “How can a complex
individual arise out of a small number of
pursuing “a series of big questions” that she has had “a good
Photos: Tommy Leonardi

cells in an embryo, and how do the cells

time” answering. Here, she considers (smaller) questions posed become so widely diversified and special-
by Forward. ized?” The question had been asked for
decades, but it was still being approached

20 forward Fall 2009

with classical methods, such as adding irreversibly abnormal, opening the more direct approach for getting the
dye to “mark” a cell and track its path. door to a new generation of DNA of specific genes into a fertil-
I thought the only really relevant research in this area. How did you ized egg, so that an animal is actually
marker for tracing how cells diversi- reach this insight? born with the desired gene. Animal
fied was the gene. That experiment grew out of my models of human diseases could be
A next question: “Is cancer basically produced in this way, giving scientists

Q How did you go about an-

swering this fundamental
an aberration of development in
which stem cells often opt for multi-
new opportunities for study. The
most important mouse model gener-
plying rather than differentiating?” I ated in my lab is one with malignant
I first made composite mouse created a chimeric mouse out of nor- melanoma.
A embryos by essentially gluing mal embryo cells combined with stem
together early-embryo cells from
genetically different mouse strains. I
cells of a tumor called a teratocarci-
noma, which contained many
Q How has science changed over
the course of your career?
Research funding today is such
found that they still developed into
single, normal-sized mice. These ani-
different kinds of tissues. I surmised
that there must be a stem cell in the A that you are expected to have a
very precise idea of what you want to
mals, which contained multiple, tumor that had once had much in
genetically identifiable populations of common with the stem cells of a nor- do; there is inadequate opportunity for
cells, became known as “chimeric” mal embryo. exploration. In my view, one of the
mice. The experiments showed that Normal, tumor-free mice resulted, most important advances is the in-
complexity originates from only a few with both genetic cell strains present creased appreciation that a gene can
express itself in many different ways,
even without undergoing mutation.
NEW QUESTIONS, and experimental ways to try

But the things I have always valued

most—originality, bravery, thinking
and answer them, continue to fascinate me. outside the box—are still the premium.

developmentally flexible “stem cells,”

which can divide and also give rise to
in all tissues. The experiment showed
that the tumor stem cells could be Q What aspect of your career
have you found the most
a branching hierarchy of more spe- converted to normalcy in a normal
Having the freedom to go from
cialized stem cells. Recognizing that
these cells could generate a complete
environment. This discovery has
inspired many scientists to investigate A one really tantalizing question to
the next, and to recognize and follow
organism not only told us a lot about the role of the “microenvironment” in
development but also pointed to the tumor stem cell behavior. The work clues along the way. New questions,
possibility of using such cells to has exciting implications for the and experimental ways to try and
replace defective cells in humans. design of cancer therapies. answer them, continue to fascinate me.

Q How unusual was this re-

search at the time? Q How did this research lead you
to develop transgenic tech-
nologies that allow scientists to
Q What questions are you focus-
ing on most in your current
This was the first successful work
A of its kind. Very few labs at the
time were attempting to perform
introduce into mice—or other
species—genes they want to study? A One important emphasis in
research today is to identify how
Since I knew that both normal specific cancers are unique at the
experiments on mammalian embryos.
That required new technology. I came A embryo stem cells and stem cells
of some tumors could contribute to
molecular level. I feel I can contribute
to a different question: whether all
from a do-it-yourself family—you
didn’t buy things that you could normal development, I wondered cancers are similar in some ways.
make—and I enjoyed the fact that I whether they could also be used as Uncovering the similarities could
had to work out everything myself. vehicles to transfer specific genes into help us understand why many can-
a mouse for study. We showed that cers return after initially effective

Q Your later work challenged

the assumption among scien-
tists that malignant cells are
this could be done.
Later, at the same time as labs at
three other institutions, we found a
therapy. I feel that finding even a par-
tial answer will be the most important
work of my life.

Fal l 2009 forward 21


{ review}

A Call for a New Funding Paradigm

fight against cancer?” He suggested that fed- “This discussion is pertinent to all scientific

rguing that the National Institutes
of Health’s current funding struc- eral funding agencies: research, and not just cancer,” Jaffe added.
ture stifles innovation in cancer “The public generally does not understand that
• Shift their emphasis toward “high-quality,
research, Fox Chase leaders recently supporting basic science can lead to important
multi-functional teams that have a theme
urged lawmakers at a special congressional therapies for a myriad of diseases.”
but not necessarily specific aims.”
hearing to overhaul the federal grant system. Specter, the senior member of the Senate
In July, president and CEO Michael V. • Rely more on investigators’ prior accom- subcommittee that oversees the National
Seiden and researcher Eileen K. Jaffe joined plishments than a proposed project’s Cancer Institute, convened the hearing after
representatives of the Philadelphia area’s preliminary findings. a front-page New York Times story, which
leading cancer research organizations for a quoted Jaffe and former Fox Chase president
• Use “multi-disciplinary and perhaps multi-
field hearing convened by U.S. Sen. Arlen Robert C. Young, pointed to the federal grant
agency review teams” comprising
Specter at the National Constitution Center. system’s limitations in funding research likely
researchers from different fields to bring
Seiden and Jaffe distinguished themselves to take significant steps toward curing can-
unbiased consideration to novel ideas.
from their colleagues in the degree of funda- cer. “For all the money poured into cancer
mental change for which they advocated. In her testimony, Jaffe suggested that it is research,” read the story, which was pub-
“For some perfectly understandable rea- human nature for “different” ideas to foster lished in April, “there has never been enough
sons, the process tends to support the status feelings of discomfort. In the case of peer- for innovative studies, the kind that can fun-
quo and encourage a systemic cautiousness reviewed research, she said, that discomfort damentally change the way scientists
that has the unintended consequence of dis- often leads to unwillingness to fund work understand cancer or doctors treat it.”
carding some of the most promising research that is based on novel concepts and has a

proposals being offered up by some of our greater chance of advancing the field rapidly,
most creative scientists,” Seiden testified. “So in favor of more familiar research that moves For more information on the
the question before us today is this: What can in incremental steps. She called for new research conducted by Eileen K. Jaffe,
be done to intelligently identify and support measures to evaluate proposals that would visit www.fccc.edu/research/pid/jaffe.
potentially game-changing new ideas in the “identify chances worth taking.”

Home Away from Home

ope Lodge, a facility located less than
a mile from Fox Chase’s main campus,
opened its doors in May to cancer patients
needing a place to stay while receiving treatment.
Officially named the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge of
the American Cancer Society, the facility provides
temporary lodging for patients undergoing treat-
ment at Philadelphia-area hospitals who are
traveling from more than 40 miles away. Owned
by the American Cancer Society and located on
land donated by Fox Chase, the lodge provides 37
guest rooms, as well as kitchen and laundry facil-
ities, for patients and their caregivers. Patients
must be referred by their physicians or social work-
ers. More information is available by contacting
lodge manager Byron Barksdale at 267-622-6002
Lisa Godrey Photography

or visiting www.fccc.edu/patients/resources and

clicking on “AstraZeneca Hope Lodge.”

22 forward Fall 2009

New Department of Clinical Genetics
Builds on Rich Pedigree

hen it comes to dealing with
hereditary cancers, the family
tree can be almost as important
a tool as the X-ray or the mam-
mogram. Its importance is reflected in the
Center’s recent creation of the department of
clinical genetics, which provides comprehen-
sive risk assessment services for people with
a hereditary risk of cancer. Young Steps Down
The new department is chaired by med- as Chancellor
ical oncologist Mary B. Daly, a pioneering
figure in family genetic counseling. In 1991,

Daly began the Margaret Dyson Family Risk fter 20 years of distinguished serv-
Assessment Program, which focused on ice and leadership at Fox Chase,
women with a family history of breast or former president Robert C. Young
ovarian cancer. The Fox Chase program was stepped down as chancellor July 1.
one of the first in the nation to offer screen- Speaking at a ceremony commemo-
ing, education, and counseling to healthy rating the occasion, president and CEO
people at increased genetic risk for cancer. Michael V. Seiden noted, “Dr. Young has
Since then, the Center has added risk assess- Reviewing patient records are genetic counselor served as a compassionate and generous
ment programs for melanoma, gastro- Andrea Forman and medical oncologist Angela mentor and advisor as I have worked to
Bradbury, director of breast and ovarian cancer risk serve the Center during these challeng-
intestinal, and prostate cancers. assessment, members of the new department of
The department consolidates the clinical ing economic times and as we navigate
clinical genetics.
components of the Center’s risk assessment numerous transitions and develop our
programs into a comprehensive service that ants linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The plans for growth. I know I speak on
includes screening, genetic testing, counsel- department of clinical genetics encompasses behalf of many at the Center when I
ing, and clinical intervention geared toward the full range, with plans to expand its scope extend my heartfelt gratitude for his
preventing cancer in people at high risk. Its even further. invaluable counsel.”
staff of 30 includes physicians, Genetic testing is only one Young served as Fox Chase’s presi-
physician assistants, genetic aspect of cancer risk assess- dent for 18 years, resigning in 2006 and
counselors, nurses, and ment and prevention, Daly taking up the role of chancellor. His
health educators. notes. Fox Chase’s com- legacy includes the creation of the first
“We have gotten prehensive approach comprehensive program of cancer pre-
to the point as an also includes genetic vention research, the Research Institute
institution where counseling, which for Cancer Prevention.
our risk assessment can help patients This transition does not represent
programs warrant a and their families retirement for Young, who plans to
full-fledged clinical understand and cope remain active as an advisor to the
department, allow- with having an inher- National Cancer Institute and a number
ing us to expand the ited risk of disease. of NCI cancer centers, as well as biotech-
services we can offer “We have demon- nology and health-care companies that
and, in time, the types of strated the effectiveness of, contribute to reducing the burden of
hereditary cancer disorders and indeed the basic need for, human disease.
we assess,” Daly says. providing counseling along with Young is internationally known for his
At present, there are 20 to 40 genes sus- genetic testing for high-risk families,” Daly work in the treatment of lymphoma and
pected to be involved in inherited cancer says. “We feel that it is a responsible ovarian cancer and has received multiple
disorders, from the mutations associated approach that combines the power of national awards for his contributions to
with the rare Li Fraumeni disorder to the genetic research with the best in cancer pre- science and medicine.
more common BRCA1 and BRCA2 vari- vention and medicine.”

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 23

{ review}
Gynecologic Fox Chase Receives $8 Million Grant
Cancer Experts to Expand Laboratory Animal Facility
Gather for ulty,” notes Harry Rozmiarek, laboratory ani-

ox Chase has received an $8 million
grant from the National Center for mal facility director. Upon joining Fox Chase in
Symposium Research Resources of the National 2004, Rozmiarek initiated a long-range plan
Institutes of Health to expand its lab- to expand and improve the facilities. “This

eaders in the field of gynecologic cancer oratory animal research facilities. The new expansion is essential to complete the plan
from around the globe gathered at the facility will support advanced research into and will permit the high-quality research at
Center in September for “Gynecologic the biological processes underlying cancer, Fox Chase to continue to improve and
Cancers—the Next 25 Years,” a symposium paving the way for the development of new expand,” he says.
honoring longtime Fox Chase faculty member treatments. The funds were made available President and CEO Michael V. Seiden adds:
Robert F. Ozols. A leader in advancing chemo- through the American Recovery and Rein- “We are grateful that the NIH recognizes the
therapy research, Ozols is internationally vestment Act. need to strengthen basic science infrastruc-
recognized for his expertise in ovarian cancer. Construction of the four-story, 25,300- ture, and that it has the funding to do so.
The symposium square-foot expansion, which will house Without such facilities, biomedical research
provided a forum for mouse “models” of cancer vital to research, is would be impossible and advances in medi-
discussion of treat- expected to begin within a year. cine would simply stop moving forward.”
ment advances that “While the current facilities are entirely The animal care and use program at Fox
could help oncolo- adequate for the care and feeding of the ani- Chase has received full accreditation from
gists, gynecologists, mal models they house, they are simply not the Association for the Assessment and
and advanced prac- large or sophisticated enough to meet the Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care
tice clinicians to needs of Fox Chase’s expanding research fac- International continuously since 1969.
evaluate and recom-
mend appropriate
strategies for man-
aging patients with
Animal Facility Director Honored
Robert F. Ozols, in whose honor a ovarian, endometrial, by State Veterinary Association
symposium on gynecologic cancer and cervical cancers.
years’ active duty with the U.S. Army Veteri-

was held, has led development of While at Fox he Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical
new treatments for ovarian cancer. Chase, Ozols led a Association has presented its Lifetime nary Corps. By the time he retired from the
research team that Achievement Award to laboratory ani- Army as a colonel in 1983, he was board-cer-
developed new clinical approaches to treating mal facility director Harry Rozmiarek. He was tified in laboratory animal medicine, had
ovarian cancer, including a chemotherapy reg- recognized for a “lifetime of dedicated serv- completed a master’s degree and residency in
imen that has become the worldwide standard ice to the advancement of veterinary medicine, laboratory animal medicine, had earned his
for treating the disease. In recent years, he animal health and welfare, and lab- doctorate in immunology from the
served as senior vice president and chief clini- oratory animal medicine during his Ohio State University, and had been
cal officer, overseeing all patient care and vast and unparalleled career,” elected national president of the
clinical research at the Center. He stepped according to the association. American Association for Laboratory
down this summer and adopted the role of “We are fortunate to have Animal Science.
senior advisor to the institution. someone of Harry Rozmiarek’s cal- An accomplished scientist, Roz-
Ozols’ research focused on how cancer iber administering our laboratory miarek has published extensively on
cells develop drug resistance and strategies animal facilities,” notes Jeff Boyd, immunology, toxicology, virology, and
for overcoming it. Resistance to chemother- senior vice president and chief sci- infectious disease, as well as labora-
apy, which often occurs in patients with entific officer. “His wealth of experience and tory animal management and husbandry.
ovarian cancer, is a major treatment obstacle keen scientific mind has enabled him to make Among his numerous national and interna-
in a number of adult cancers. great progress in expanding and modernizing tional scientific leadership roles, he was
our facilities, which serve as the engine for appointed by the National Research Council
most of our research.” in 2003 as the U.S. representative to the Inter-
Rozmiarek earned his veterinary degree national Council for Laboratory Animal
from the University of Minnesota College of Science. In addition to his most recent honor,
Veterinary Medicine in 1962 and embarked on he has received several national awards for
a distinguished career that began with 20 excellence in laboratory animal science.

24 forward Fall 2009

Longtime Fundraiser Program in Head and Neck Cancer
Joins Center Added to Keystone Roster

obert G. Wilkens Jr., a veteran
to the program’s research component. The ini-

fundraiser for cancer centers and other ox Chase recently announced the
academic medical institutions, recently latest addition to its innovative, tiative is led by an interdisciplinary team:
became Fox Chase’s new senior vice president team-based Keystone Programs for medical oncologist Barbara Burtness, molec-
and chief development officer. He succeeds Collaborative Discovery: the Keystone ular biologist Erica A. Golemis, and head and
Jill A. Marsteller, who Program in Head and Neck Cancer, which neck surgeon John A. “Drew” Ridge.
departed the Center in brings clinicians and scientists together to “I congratulate the team leaders for build-
September for a posi- apply knowledge about the genetics and ing a cohesive and compelling scientific
tion at Ursinus College. molecular biology of head and neck cancer to program that makes tremendous use of our
Previously, Wilkens the treatment of the disease. existing research and clinical strengths,” says
led the development The program will bring emerging research president and CEO Michael V. Seiden. “The
programs at Memorial into cancer growth and targeted therapeutics program reaches broadly across the Center to
Sloan-Kettering Cancer to bear in the treatment of head and neck capture the creativity and efforts of an array
Center in New York City cancer, an illness that includes cancers of the of constituents who bring a myriad of talents
and the Ohio State Uni- nasal cavity, mouth, throat, and voice box. The and expertise to the problem of head and
versity’s Comprehensive disease affects more than 45,000 people in neck cancer.”
Cancer Center–James Cancer Hospital and the United States alone and has a survival Like the four founding Keystone Programs,
Solove Research Institute. Most recently, he rate of about 50 percent. launched in 2008, the new addition was
was executive director for development and Fox Chase is known for its strength in selected after a competitive external peer-
philanthropy for Memorial University Medical treating head and neck cancer, and its doc- review process, making the program eligible
Center in Savannah, Georgia, where he tors are recognized leaders in the field. Their for at least $5 million in support over five
worked closely with the Curtis and Elizabeth experience in leading clinical trials for each years. The Keystone Programs are funded pri-
Anderson Cancer Institute. stage and type of the disease also adds depth marily through private philanthropy.


B. Hayes, who joined Fox Chase in July as
the facility’s director.
Hayes, who completed
her residency at Fox
Chase, returned to
the Center this sum-
mer from Richmond,
Virginia, where she
worked with Virginia
Radiation Oncology

Satellite Radiation Associates.

“I am thrilled to be
Facility Opens director of this beauti-
ful facility,” she notes, “and I am eager to
President and CEO Michael V. Seiden addresses the nearly 200 community bring the latest radiation technologies to
well-wishers and members of the Fox Chase faculty and leadership who
Bucks County.”
gathered in July to celebrate the opening of Fox Chase Cancer Center
Buckingham, the Center’s satellite radiation treatment facility in Bucks Hayes has a particular interest in
County, about 20 miles north of Fox Chase’s main campus. After remarks by breast, gynecologic, prostate, and lung
Seiden and Eric M. Horwitz, chairman and clinical director of radiation malignancies, as well as brain and spinal
oncology, guests toured the 12,500-foot facility to see the latest in radiation cord tumors. She earned her M.D. at Tem-
technology, including a CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System and a Trilogy
ple University School of Medicine.
Linear Accelerator with Rapid Arc. For more information on the Buckingham
facility, visit www.fccc.edu/buckingham.
Jim Roese

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 25

{ review}
‘Social Media’ Outlets Offer New
Opportunities to Connect with Fox Chase
With hundreds of millions of people

ore and more often, people looking
for information turn first to the worldwide engaged in various ways with
Internet—and in particular to the social media, it seems that the tools are here
rapidly developing communications channels to stay, and the Center plans to expand its
known collectively as “social media.” Inter- social media presence as opportunities arise.
net-based tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and To access Fox Chase’s social media sites,
YouTube let users stay up to date and visit www.fccc.edu/news/follow-us.html.
engaged on a whole new level, and these
interactive tools provide users with new
opportunities to connect with Fox Chase.
Facebook members can receive Fox Chase
news updates, learn about upcoming events,
read patient stories, and participate in discus-
sions by becoming a “fan” of Fox Chase on
Facebook. Membership in the social network-
ing site, which is free, is required for
Twitter is a free service that allows
users to post and read short messages
known as “tweets.” Fox Chase uses its
newly developed Twitter page to post
Scott H. Spitzer

timely updates on news and events.

YouTube is a Web site that allows
Artistic Support users to upload and share videos that can
immediately be accessed by millions of
Byers’ Choice people. The Fox Chase YouTube channel
includes videos that provide an overview
Joins Fox Chase of the Center, as well as physician profiles
in Fight Against and information on research programs.

Breast Cancer
“The Days of Wine and Roses and You,”
designed by Barbara Blankenship of Angle-
ton, Texas, was among the one-of-a-kind
“art bras” featured at an exhibit designed
Fox Chase Physicians Assume
to raise awareness of breast cancer and National Leadership Positions
support Fox Chase research. Byers’ Choice
Ltd., a maker of handcrafted gifts, hosted • ERIC M. HORWITZ, chairman of radi- encouraging improved and continuing educa-
the exhibit in October at its headquarters ation oncology, has assumed the position of tion for radiation oncologists.
in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, to honor Breast president of the American Brachytherapy Soci- • SURGEON JOHN A. “DREW”
Cancer Awareness Month. The show’s ety. Founded in 1973, the nonprofit society RIDGE’S national leadership in head and
grand opening, which drew nearly 100 peo- seeks to provide insight and research into the neck cancer has been recognized by the leading
ple, kicked off the company’s first annual use of brachytherapy—radiation treatment professional society in the field. At the annual
“Think Pink” program, which also included given by placing radioactive material directly meeting of the American Head and Neck Soci-
a benefit walk and health and craft fair, in or near the target or tumor—for malignant ety, held in May in Phoenix, he was elevated
with proceeds benefiting the Center. and benign conditions. to society president. The American Head and
The organization strives to benefit patients Neck Society is the largest organization in
by providing information directly to them and North America dedicated to the advancement
promoting the highest standards of practice, of research and education in head and neck
and to benefit health-care professionals by oncology.

26 forward Fall 2009


{ intro}

Beck Assumes Role

of Chief Medical Officer
In June, J. Robert Beck assumed the role of chief medical officer. He also continues in his role as
chief academic officer.
“As chief medical officer, Dr. Beck will have the opportunity to work with physicians and
nurses to improve the delivery of clinical care in both the inpatient and outpatient departments,”
notes president and CEO Michael V. Seiden. Beck also works with clinical department chairs and
senior administrative leaders to improve processes, quality, and safety in all patient-related areas.
Prior to becoming chief academic officer, Beck served as deputy director of the population sci-
ence division and as vice president for information services and chief information officer. He
holds grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and
the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid, or caBIG™.
A pathologist by training, Beck has authored nearly 200 publications in the fields of labora-
tory medicine, informatics, and medical decision-making.

Fox Chase recently welcomed the following clinicians and researchers to its staff.

CLINICIANS & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. Farma advanced laparoscopy for uterine and cervical
is a recipient of the ASCO Foundation Merit cancers, as well as for radical procedures for
Yun Shin Chun is a surgical oncologist who Award. His volunteer service includes partici- debulking ovarian tumors. Kim earned her M.D.
specializes in treating patients with gastroin- pation in Temple’s Cradle to Grave program, from the State University of New York Upstate
an educational anti-violence program for at- Medical University College of Medicine in Syra-
testinal cancers, including cancers of the liver,
risk youth. cuse. She came to Fox Chase from the Hospital
pancreas, colon, and rectum, as well as
of the University of Pennsylvania and Univer-
melanoma. A recipient of the Janet M. Glas-
Karen S. Gustafson, a pathologist, came sity of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where
gow Memorial Achievement Citation from the
to Fox Chase from Johns Hopkins University she served as attending physician and instruc-
American Medical Women’s Association,
School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins tor of gynecologic oncology, respectively.
Chun earned her M.D. at New York Medical
College. A member of many professional Hospital, where she served as assistant pro-
fessor of pathology and cytopathologist, Amy R. MacKenzie helps coordinate inpa-
organizations, she serves on the Hepatobil-
respectively. She has provided editorial review tient medical care as a member of the
iary Task Force of the American Joint
for journals including Cancer Cytopathology Center’s hospitalist service. She earned her
Committee on Cancer. Chun completed her
M.D. from Drexel University College of Medi-
fellowship in surgical oncology at the Univer- and Gynecologic Oncology. Her teaching
cine and is a recipient of the school’s Samuel
sity of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in experience includes regular continuing med-
Levit Award for Outstanding Skills and
Houston, where she also served as a clinical ical education instruction on the pathology of
Humanitarianism in Medicine. Most recently,
specialist in the department of critical care. cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening.
she completed her residency in internal med-
Gustafson earned her M.D. and a Ph.D. in bio-
icine at Temple University Hospital.
Jeffrey M. Farma, a surgical oncologist, medical sciences at the University of
treats patients with melanoma, sarcoma, and Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.
Anthony J. Olszanski is a medical oncol-
gastrointestinal cancers. His expertise She has completed fellowships in surgical
ogist who specializes in Phase I clinical trials
includes minimally invasive, laparoscopic pathology and cytopathology at the Hospital and treating patients with gastrointestinal
techniques, as well as traditional surgery. of the University of Pennsylvania. cancers. He earned his M.D. from the Univer-
Farma received his M.D. from Temple Univer- sity of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
sity School of Medicine. He came to Fox Chase Sarah H. Kim, a gynecologic surgical oncol- in Newark and completed his residency in
after completing his fellowship in surgical ogist, has expertise in minimally invasive
oncology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center surgery—specifically, using robotics and continued on page 28

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 27

{ intro}
internal medicine, as well as fellowships in
hematology/oncology and clinical pharma-
cology/toxicology, at Dartmouth Hitchcock
Daly Heads New Clinical Genetics Department
Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Olszanski came to Fox Chase after serving as
clinical leader and director of Pfizer Oncology
M edical oncologist Mary B. Daly has been named
chairwoman of the newly created department of
clinical genetics, which consolidates the clinical services of
in New London, Connecticut. the Center’s existing risk-assessment programs. (See story
on page 23).
Neeta Somaiah, a medical oncologist, Building on the success of the Margaret Dyson Family
treats patients with bone cancer, soft tissue Risk Assessment Program, which Daly founded in 1991,
sarcomas, and lung cancer. She recently com- the department focuses on the clinical use of genetic and
pleted her fellowship in hematology and molecular information and tools to more effectively pre-
oncology at Fox Chase. A member of the vent, diagnose, and treat cancers.
Research Review Committee since 2007, Previously, Daly led the Cancer Prevention and Con-
Somaiah also has worked in the Center’s trol Program. She also leads the Keystone Program in
tumor cell biology program. She earned her Personalized Risk and Prevention, a collaborative effort
medical degree at Maulana Azad Medical Col- that brings together scientists and clinicians.
lege, Delhi University, India. She is a member

of Vidyavikas, an initiative aimed at providing

scholarships to children in rural India.
Fang Leads Cancer Prevention and Control Program
Matthew B. Zook, a dermatologist, treats
patients with melanoma, pigmented lesions,
and nonmelanoma skin cancers. He received
B ehavioral researcher Carolyn Y. Fang assumed leader-
ship of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program in
July, stepping into the role vacated by Mary B. Daly as she
his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College and assumed leadership of the new department of clinical ge-
came to Fox Chase after completing his resi- netics.
dency at Thomas Jefferson University, where Fang also is a member of the new Keystone Program
he also earned his Ph.D. in microbiology and in Head and Neck Cancer.
molecular virology. Zook’s volunteer work has “The Cancer Prevention and Control Program has long
included caring for underserved populations been a scientific strength of the Center, as well as integral
in the Philadelphia area through the JeffHOPE to our continued recognition as an NCI-designated com-
program, and for patients in rural India prehensive cancer center,” says president and CEO Michael
through Youth With A Mission. V. Seiden. “I have great confidence that Dr. Fang has the
experience, knowledge, and vision to contribute to the con-
RESEARCHERS tinued success of this program at a leadership level.”

Elizabeth Hopper-Borge, a molecular bio-

physicist, studies the cellular mechanisms that Hall Directs Gastrointestinal
enable cancer cells to resist chemotherapy. Her Risk Assessment Program
laboratory focuses on a family of so-called
multidrug resistant proteins, which act like
molecular pumps to remove toxic substances M ichael John Hall was appointed director of the Gas-
trointestinal Tumor Risk Assessment Program in
June. He succeeds program founder Neal Meropol, who
from cells. An understanding of how these
pumps work in cancer cells could allow for departed the Center for a position at the Case Compre-
more effective use of chemotherapeutics. She hensive Cancer Center in Cleveland.
earned her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsyl- Hall joined the faculty in October 2008 after complet-
vania. Prior to becoming a faculty member, ing medical oncology training at the University of Chicago
she was a postdoctoral fellow at Fox Chase. and additional epidemiology and biostatistics training at
the Columbia University School of Public Health. He has

received an American Society of Clinical Oncology Young
Investigator Award and an American Cancer Society Men-
To learn more about Fox Chase
tored Research Scholar Grant.
doctors and researchers, visit www.fccc.edu
or call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427).

28 forward Fall 2009


{ advance}

Experimental Breast Cancer Drug

Owes Origins to Fox Chase Lab
iven the time it takes for scien- “It is a rare and wonderful thing to see a ErbB2 and using that connection as a

G tific discoveries to travel from

“bench” to “bedside,” labora-
tory scientists rarely get to see
their work directly affect
patients—but that is exactly what happened
this summer when Fox Chase became one of
just two sites in the country to take part in a
clinical trial begin at the place where the con-
cept underlying the drug was initially
conceived,” notes oncologist Crystal Den-
linger, who heads the MM-111 trial at Fox
MM-111 resembles an antibody—a pro-
tein the immune system uses to confront
foothold to block ErbB3 from transmitting
molecular signals within the cell.
MM-111 is believed to be the first drug
that operates as a “bispecific” antibody to
enter clinical development.

clinical trial of a unique drug shown to slow invading pathogens such as viruses or bacte-
the growth of breast cancer. ria. However, unlike most antibodies, which With more than 225 clinical trials under
Known as MM-111, the drug is based on bind to only one target at a time, MM-111— way at any given time, Fox Chase offers
a similar molecule, ALM, developed at Fox like ALM before it—attaches to two targets access to the latest lifesaving medical
Chase in collaboration with researchers at the simultaneously: the signaling proteins ErbB2 advances, sometimes years before they
University of California, San Francisco. (See and ErbB3. According to researchers, the two become widely available. For more infor-
page 32 of the spring 2009 issue of Forward.) proteins work in tandem on the surface of mation on the Center’s clinical trials
The two institutions partnered with Merri- many cancer cells, including those involved in program, visit www.fccc.edu/cancer/
mack Pharmaceuticals Inc., which further head and neck cancer and drug-resistant clinicalTrials or call 1-888-FOX CHASE
refined ALM for use as a drug in humans. The breast cancer, to promote cancerous cell (1-888-369-2427).
result was MM-111. growth. The drug works by latching on to

‘Disorder’ within Proteins Is Anything But

ections of proteins previously thought NHREF1 serves as an adapter that allows the entire protein. Roder and his colleagues

S to be useless may have an unexpect-

edly important biological role,
providing certain proteins with a way
to deactivate themselves, according
to structural biologist Heinrich Roder.
In the May issue of the journal Structure,
Roder and his colleagues described this phe-
molecular messages from outside the cell to
trigger changes within the cell. The “disor-
dered” sections of the protein allow it to flex
and block its own active site as a means of
regulating itself. The discovery, made through
an innovative application of nuclear magnetic
resonance spectroscopy and other biophysi-
used an innovative approach that combined
nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy—
a technique that determines a protein’s shape
by measuring how individual atoms interact
with an intense magnetic field—with optical
spectroscopy—a less powerful method that
uses light instead of a magnetic field—to
nomenon in a vital protein called NHREF1, cal techniques, was the first successful form a more complete picture of the molecule
which is crucial to the ability of cells to attempt to determine the structure of this and understand the role of the disordered
receive chemical signals. By understanding type of protein. region. This breakthrough enabled them to
the protein’s structure, Roder believes scien- In general, proteins are composed of one see what NHREF1 looks like both when it is
tists will understand how the protein or more modular sections with a particular active and when it is “turned off.”
functions—or malfunctions—in diseases shape and amino acid sequence that have Roder found that the protein’s suppos-
such as breast cancer and cystic fibrosis. been conserved through evolution. More than edly disordered region allows the protein to
“Here we have a molecule that serves an a third of human proteins, however, contain block its active site, like biting one’s lip to
important role in how cells function and sur- disorganized, seemingly random sequences keep from talking. This ability to flex, he
vive, but it contains these puzzling ‘junk’ that don’t match any of these known struc- says, is an essential part of the protein’s
sequences that don’t have any apparent pur- tures. Often, these disordered sequences are architecture.
pose,” Roder says. “Our work suggests that dismissed as mere evolutionary detritus.
this disorder is really a way of creating flexi- The longest of NHREF1’s disordered seg- Funding for this research was provided by the
bility, allowing the protein to function as a ments consists of a chain of 100 amino acids, National Cancer Institute, the National Insti-
molecular switch, a process that goes wrong the chaotic nature of which has prevented sci- tutes of Health, and the American Cancer
in certain diseases.” entists from creating an accurate model of Society.

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 29

{ advance}
Protein Shown to Support Aggressive Breast Cancer
The protein could serve as a biomarker, or surface to the interior to control cancer cell

ox Chase researchers have demonstrated
that a protein called NEDD9 may be indicator, of aggressive forms of breast cancer, growth and movement.
required for some of the most aggressive Golemis says. It also may provide the basis for “By their nature, cancer cells are evolu-
forms of breast cancer to grow—a finding the development of new drugs against the tionary machines, constantly looking for ways
that could aid the development of improved disease. to exploit the vast networks of signaling path-
tools for diagnosing and treating the disease. The Golemis laboratory first identified ways that are an inherent part of cell
The study, published in October in Cancer NEDD9 in 1996. In recent years, scientists function,” Golemis notes. “The more we
Research, showed that reduced levels of around the world have contributed to understand these pathways, the better we will
NEDD9 in mice limit the appearance of ag- research showing how excess amounts of the understand the ways cancer cells evolve to use
gressive metastatic breast cancer. protein contribute to metastasis in a number those pathways, and how to stop them.”
“This was the first study to address the of cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer,
question of what happens in breast cancer if and a type of brain tumor called glioblas- Funding for this research was provided by the
this gene isn’t around,” says molecular biol- toma. National Cancer Institute, National Institutes
ogist Erica A. Golemis. “And the answer is that A so-called “scaffolding protein,” NEDD9 of Health, Israel Cancer Association, Stanley
we see more moderate cancer development, forms part of a complex of molecules just Abersur Research Foundation, Ben-Gurion Uni-
which speaks volumes about the role of the inside the cell membrane that collectively act versity of the Negev, Pew Charitable Trusts,
protein in aggressive breast tumors.” as transmitters, relaying signals from the cell and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Should Parents Tell Children

About Results of Genetic Testing?
Study Looks at Offspring Reactions

response as “upset—strong emotional reac-

he Talk” is a traditional rite of pas-
sage by which parents pass on tion” in 18 percent of cases, compared to 2
wisdom about delicate subjects percent of cases of parents with negative
such as sex. But should “The Talk” extend to results.
children’s risk of hereditary cancer? In 13 percent of cases, parents reported
Medical oncologist Angela Bradbury, offspring concern for self and family—reac-
director of breast and ovarian cancer risk tions that also were more frequent among
assessment, queried parents who were tested those with positive tests. Most parents
for the hereditary BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene reported that the communication had either
mutations associated with breast and ovar- no significant impact (39 percent) or a posi-
ian cancer to better understand how children tive impact (36 percent) on their offspring.
react when parents communicate such results “This is exploratory data,” Bradbury
to them. She presented her findings in May notes, “that we will evaluate further with
at the annual meeting of the American Soci- future studies.”
ety of Clinical Oncology. Bradbury and her colleagues plan to fur-
“We know that many people who carry the ther study the psychosocial and behavioral
BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations share their responses to learning of hereditary cancer risk
genetic test results with their children,” she during childhood and adolescence, with the
explains. “According to our preliminary Of the 163 parents surveyed, 52 tested hope that such research could aid the devel-
research, most parents do not perceive their positive for the mutations. Just over 100 par- opment of models that parents could use to
children to have strong adverse reactions to this ents, or 66 percent, shared their results with conduct “The Talk”—at least as far as cancer
information, although children who learn their at least one of their children, representing a risk goes.
parent tested positive for a mutation may be total of 201 offspring ages 5 to 24. Parents Parents are on their own for the birds and
more susceptible to initial negative reactions.” who had tested positive reported their child’s the bees.

30 forward Fall 2009

Study Challenges Routine Use of MRI Scans
to Evaluate Breast Cancer
he use of magnetic resonance

T imaging, or MRI scans, follow-

ing breast cancer diagnosis
does not improve how well a
patient fares, according to a
recent study by Fox Chase researchers. In
fact, women who receive MRI scans are
more likely to receive a full mastectomy
MRI scans could lead
physicians to overestimate
the severity of some cases.

when they might have otherwise been

eligible for a less invasive procedure.
There is no demonstrated benefit of
using MRI in such cases, says Richard
Bleicher, breast surgeon and lead author
of the study, especially in light of the
three-week delay in patient evaluation
typically associated with its use. Bleicher
and his colleagues examined the records
of 577 breast cancer patients and
reported their findings in August in Jour-
nal of the American College of Surgeons.
Bleicher believes many of the
women who received mastectomies
after their MRIs could have been candi- mastectomy out of an abundance of such as those with genetic mutations that
dates for a less invasive procedure caution,” he adds. predispose them to breast cancer, there is
known as a lumpectomy. An MRI scan The study demonstrates that routine no evidence that it improves care when
is very sensitive, he says, and could lead use of MRI scans in women newly diag- used routinely to evaluate a previously
physicians to overestimate the severity nosed with breast cancer increased diagnosed case, Bleicher says.
of some cases. “Rather than having a significantly between 2004 and 2005, and
biopsy to see if those findings are real, again in 2006. While MRI might be valu- This study was supported by the
women and their doctors may choose able as a screening tool for some women, U.S. Public Health Service.

Perception of Cancer Risk Might Not Mirror Reality

“Preventing cancer is as important as risk; 70 percent were at moderate to high risk;

eople at an elevated risk for gastroin-
testinal cancers overestimate their treating cancer,” Hall says. “The goal of our and 12 percent were at low risk. However,
actual degree of cancer risk and, there- study was to improve how we think about prior to counseling, individuals in the low-risk
fore, their true need for support in preventing and direct our prevention resources.” group estimated their cancer risk as equal to
the disease, according to a study presented in Hall led a study that evaluated 398 indi- that of the high-risk group.
May at the annual meeting of the American viduals from 278 families enrolled in the “Clearly, the first step in offering clinical
Society of Clinical Oncology. Gastrointestinal Tumor Risk Assessment Pro- prevention tools to all of the individuals
The findings are particularly important for gram over a nine-year period. The researchers entering our risk assessment program is to
considering how risk assessment programs established participants’ risk through family help them to understand their actual level of
direct educational, counseling, and diagnostic and personal histories of gastrointestinal can- risk,” Hall says. “Only then can we recom-
resources, says oncologist Michael John Hall, cers and/or colorectal polyps, as well as mend the appropriate prevention support.”
who directs the Gastrointestinal Tumor Risk genetic testing. Results showed that more
Assessment Program. than 17 percent of participants were at high

Fal l 2 0 0 9 forward 31

A P A T I E N T ’ S P E R S P E C T I V E

{ close-up}

Philly or Bust
Woman Leaves London Home
for Lifesaving Surgery at Fox Chase
By Jill M. Ercolino

othing was going to stop Finding hope in the States
Olapeju Ferreira—not an ag- Still, as she made her way to the United
gressive form of cancer, not a States, Ferreira was filled with anxiety.
dim prognosis, not even dis- Recent surgery had revealed that she
tance. had five new cancerous masses in her
From her home in London, the uterus, and her doctor, declaring there was
mother of three, whose uterine sarcoma nothing more he could do, had stitched
had recurred in less than a year despite her up and sent her home. Ferreira won-
surgery and intensive chemotherapy, did dered: Could Watson be the answer to her
what most people in her position would many prayers?
do. She went on the Internet and did As it turned out, he was. After review-
some digging. ing her X-rays, the surgeon
Ferreira found hope in
Fox Chase surgeon James
“He told me called her with good news.
“He told me he could oper-
C. Watson. A specialist in he could operate, ate, and that’s all I needed to
gastrointestinal cancers
and that’s all I hear,” Ferreira says. “I was
and sarcomas, he had suc- very relieved and happy.”
cessfully treated others needed to hear.” Six months later, Ferreira
with her disease, leiomyo- was back with her family,
sarcoma, a rare cancer that most often back to work, and cautiously optimistic.
attacks the uterus and stomach. While recent tests have come back nega-
Not long after discovering Watson, tive, she remains keenly aware that, like
Ferreira rearranged her life. She took a before, her cancer could return.
leave of absence from her job helping wel- “I don’t fret, though. If it comes back,
fare recipients, put her children in a I will deal with it,” Ferreira says. And for
relative’s care, and boarded a plane for now, life goes on. “In Nigeria, we have a
Philadelphia with her husband, Sola. saying: ‘Why die before death actually
“When my cancer came back, it was comes?’ There is always some hope, some-
quite a shock,” recalls Ferreira, a native of where.”
Nigeria, “but I was determined that I was Olapeju Ferreira is living proof of
going to beat it. I’ve always felt that if I that.

Jessica Hui

can’t control something, I won’t panic. I

will come up with a plan and I will deal ON THE WEB
Olapeju Ferreira with it.” To read more about
That meant that, no matter what, she Ferreira and other survivors, visit
was going to meet Watson. www.fccc.edu/topics/ferreira.

32 forward Fall 2009


{ rewind}

Anna Gray to the Rescue Pioneering Woman Fo ught Cancer with Knowledge

nna Gray brewed up some tea at the benefit of the institute while enjoy- when it bordered on being a dirty word
her home outside Philadelphia and ing matching wits across the table?” were just as important. She pioneered the
invited a few friends to join her for auxiliary’s tradition of hosting annual
a cup. But she had more on her mind The right woman at the right time cancer forums, groundbreaking public
than friendly conversation. Throughout it all, the commanding fig- events that focused on scientific break-
The year was 1933, and the Great ure of Anna Gray, a banker’s wife and throughs and encouraged early detection
Depression gripped the country. But well-known singer, was front and center. and treatment.
Gray, a mover and shaker in Philadelphia Photos of Gray, who served as the aux- “Cancer is a great menace,” Gray once
society, wasn’t looking for help. Instead, iliary’s president for two decades, show a told a reporter, “and only public under-
she was hoping to give it: to a friend, woman with a kind face who fancied standing of it can result in its ultimate
oncologist Stanley P. Reimann. smart suits, dainty hats, pearls, and white elimination.”
Gray had learned that Reimann’s gloves. However, snippets culled from yel- Anna Gray wasn’t the only woman to
Lankenau Hospital Research Institute for lowed newspaper clippings reveal a help Stanley Reimann on his way to
the Promotion of Cancer Research was hard-charging steel magnolia who was building a world-class cancer research and
nearly penniless, and if something wasn’t fiercely devoted to the cancer cause. treatment facility, but when he was down
done soon, years of painstaking study to “As president of the women’s auxiliary, and nearly out, she emerged—the right
find a cause and cure for cancer would Mrs. Gray has done more against cancer woman at the right time.
crumble with it. than any other person in this state, not —Jill M. Ercolino
True to form, Gray mustered her excluding those in the medical profes-
troops. Between sips of tea, a powdered sion,” a well-known doctor was quoted as Pioneering cancer educator and fundraiser
Anna Gray, far right, and other members of the auxiliary
contingent of doctors’ wives and fellow saying in 1951. she founded welcome Eve Curie, second from left,
churchgoers anted up enough money to While Gray’s knack for fundraising daughter of “Madame” Marie Curie, to
rescue the institute, which would later earned her accolades, her efforts to edu- the Institute for Cancer Research in 1948.
become one of the building blocks of Fox cate the masses about cancer at a time
Chase. They also organized Lanke-
nau’s first women’s auxiliary. In
doing so, the society ladies
joined a growing faction of
women nationwide, many
affiliated with social clubs
and universities, dedicated to
fighting cancer with knowledge.
Often, the auxiliary’s mem-
bers mixed socializing with
fundraising by throwing
elaborate dances, intimate
recitals, and oceanside card
parties that generated hun-
dreds of thousands of
dollars for cancer research,
scholarships, and treatments
for the needy.
“Women play bridge
anyway,” Gray reportedly
commented, “so why not
contribute some money for

F al l 2 009 forward 33

Photo: Fox Chase Cancer Center archive

333 Cottman Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19111-2497

Getting Personal
The “cookie cutter” approach to cancer
treatment may soon be a thing of the past.
Fox Chase’s new Institute for Personalized
Medicine focuses on analyzing each patient
at the genetic level and customizing her
therapy based on her individual profile.

See story on page 12.