Dr. Nevalainen wins SKCC Innovator of the Year Award

Drs. Pestell and Nevalainen

Drs. Pestell and Nevalainen

On December 16, 2014, Dr. Marja Nevalainen was awarded the 2014 Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Innovator of the Year award. The award was presented presented by Dr. Richard G. Pestell, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.




Infusion Center Toy Drive

Jefferson Oncology Infusion Program staff  held a toy drive during the month of December were they collected over 100 toys to help Pediatric Oncology patients in the Philadelphia area.

Oncology Infusion Center Toy Drive

Oncology Infusion Center Toy Drive




2014 SKCC Consortium: Symposium and Poster Session

On October 1st, 2014 the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Consortium held a Symposium and Poster Session. Senior Leadership presented overviews of the work being done across the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Consortium. Also, progress reports were presented by the recipients of the 2013 SKCC Consortium Pilot Project Awards.  The afternoon portion of the event was composed primarily of a Poster Session from SKCC Consortium graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Below, is list of the winners from the Poster Session:

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Poster Awards:
1st    Fernando Blanco, PhD
2nd   Edward Hartsough, PhD
3rd   Atul Goyal, PhD

Graduate Student Poster Awards:
1st    Debra Klopfenstein
2nd  Sergey Karakashev
3rd   Valerie Sodi

Below is a selection of photos from the day’s event and here is the days agenda.



Global Positioning at the Cancer Frontline

Richard G. Pestell, M.D., Ph.D.

Richard G. Pestell, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Pestell’s recent TEDx presentation “Is Good Health a Choice?” was featured in an “Australia Unlimited” article by David Varga.

The article describes Dr. Pestell’s background and upbringing as well as highlighting his  innovative research involving the “GPS of Cancer” (the biological navigation system that allows malignant cancer cells to spread to the most vulnerable regions of the body).




Dr. Pestell and Austrailian Prime Minister

Dr. Richard Pestell and the Honorable Tony Abbott

Dr. Richard Pestell and the Honorable Tony Abbott

On June 10th 2014 Dr. Pestell attended an engagement in New York with the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honorable Tony Abbott, accompanied by several cabinet members. Dr. Pestell discussed with these individuals some new initiatives at Jefferson along with the “Leg Up not a Handout” initiative. In the picture you can see Dr. Pestell going over that plan with Prime Minister Abbott to strengthen our international relations here at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University.



KCC Collaborating with BioBank Graz

From left to right Prof. Berthold Huppertz, Dr. Richard Pestell, Prof Peter Holzer and Amir Oryan.

From left to right Prof. Berthold Huppertz, Dr. Richard Pestell, Prof Peter Holzer and Amir Oryan.

Dr. Pestell meets with representatives from Medical University Graz and BioBank Graz as they discuss the growing MOU partnership agreement between Medical University Graz and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University.



Dr. Aplin Wins Innovation Award

Dr. Andrew Aplin

Dr. Andrew Aplin

Congratulations to Dr Andrew Aplin, Department of Cancer Biology, has received the 2014 Jefferson Medical College Michael and Melina Pellini Award for Innovation in the Biomedical Sciences. The award is given “For the elucidation/description of a specific discovery, technique, or instrument/device that has led to new concepts or approaches to experimentation or patient care.”




Dr. Richard Pestell Receives Advance Global Australian Award in Biotechnology Category

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Dr, Richard Pestell

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Dr, Richard Pestell

Dr. Pestell received the award for his work at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson as well as Prostagene, LLC, which is a biotechnology company he founded. Please see this Financial Review Article for more information bout this year’s Advance Global Australian Awards. Also please see this video clip of Dr. Pestell receiving the Advance Global Australian Award in Biotechnology at the Sydney Opera House.



Dr. Gomella elected to the Clinical Society of Genitourinary Surgeons

Dr. Leonard Gomella

Dr. Leonard Gomella

Leonard G. Gomella, MD, The Bernard W. Godwin Professor of Prostate Cancer, Chairman, Department of Urology, Associate Director, Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center, Clinical Director Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center Network, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Journal of Urology has been elected to the Clinical Society of Genitourinary Surgeons. This is considered one of the most prestigious societies in the field with active membership limited to 25 of the top academic urologists in the US.



ACS-IRG Pilot Projects Awarded for 2013

Left to Right: Dr. Jordan Winter, Dr. Lara Weinstein, Dr. Aejaz Sayeed, Dr. Richard Pestell, Dr. Tali Gidalevitz, Larry Slagle, Ruth Ann Dailey, Dr. Marja Nevalainen

The Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center hosted the Annual ACS-IRG Luncheon on September 17th to announce the 2013 Pilot Project award recipients from Thomas Jefferson University. Awardees include Sheikh Aejaz Sayeed, PhD from the Department of Cancer Biology; Jordan Winter, MD, from the Department of Surgery; Yaron Moshel, MD, PhD from the Department of Neurological Surgery; Tiffany Avery, MD, MPH from the Department of Medical Oncology; Lara Carson Weinstein, MD, MPH from the Department of Family & Community Medicine and from Drexel University,  Tali Gidalevitz, PhD from the Department of Biology. Each Awardee briefly explained their research projects to Ruth Ann Dailey, Vice President, Corporate and Distinguished Partners and Larry Slagle, Distinguished Giving Director, of the East Central Division of the American Cancer Society. Ms. Dailey and Mr. Slagle explained the ACS mission and offered ways in which the Pilot Project recipients would be able to assist them in that mission.



Kimmel Cancer Center “All Hands Meeting”

The Kimmel Cancer Center held it’s quarterly “All Hands” meeting on September 11, 2013. Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, delivered his quarterly “State of the Cancer Center” address. Awards were presented in several categories. Two “Special Recognition” awards where presented to  Andrew Quong, PhD and Jeanine Voll (not pictured). The “Discovery of the Year” Awards was presented to Alexander Mazo, PhD. The Nursing Award was presented to Tamara McGovern, RN. The Basic Science Award was awarded to Dr. Andrew Aplin (not pictured). A Special Team Nursing Award was presented to  the ONCare Nursing team. A Special Administration Award was present to the ONCare Administrative Team.

Dr. Alexander Mazo Receives "Discovery of the Year" Award from Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Alexander Mazo Receives "Discovery of the Year" Award from Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Andrew Quong Receives "Special Recognition" Award from Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Andrew Quong Receives "Special Recognition" Award from Dr. Richard Pestell



ONCare Administrative Team Receives Special team Admimistration Award From Dr. Neal Flomenberg

ONCare Administrative Team Receives Special team Admimistration Award From Dr. Neal Flomenberg



ONCare Nursing Team Receives Special Team Nursing Award From Dr. Neal Flomenberg

ONCare Nursing Team Receives Special Team Nursing Award From Dr. Neal Flomenberg


Ms. Tamara McGovern Receives Nursing Award from Dr. Neal Flomenberg

Ms. Tamara McGovern Receives Nursing Award from Dr. Neal Flomenberg





KCC Researchers Awarded $480,000 from Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Richard Pestell, MD, PhD and Andrew Quong, PhD

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation recently announced that Dr. Richard Pestell and Dr. Andrew Quong received unanimous approval for studies in breast cancer, the second most prevalent cancer-related cause of death in women in the United States.

Beginning October 1, 2013, Dr. Pestell will receive $240,000 to continue the “Molecular Genetic determinants of Breast Cancer Stem Cells” study and Dr. Quong will receive $240,000 to continue the “Clinical Proteomics for Breast Cancer Diagnostics” study.

Dr. Pestell’s study will focus on basal breast cancer including triple negative breast cancer, defined by the absence of three receptors (estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 [HER2]). Triple negative breast cancer is prominent among African-American women, and currently no targeted therapies for this type of breast cancer exist. Within human breast cancer a subset of cells have characteristics of stem cells (BTIC), which may contribute to recurrence and therapeutic resistance. The mechanism by which the gene DACH1 inhibits BTIC is being determined as a new approach to enhance therapeutic responsiveness. Dr. Pestell’s findings over the last year that DACH1 binds to and enhances function of the p53 tumor suppressor, but fails to bind mutations of p53 identified in human breast cancer, adds further weight to the original hypothesis that DACH1 is a breast tumor suppressor. Dr. Pestell’s studies in 2012-2013 will continue to define the role of endogenous DACH1 as a breast cancer suppressor.

Support from BCRF has also allowed Dr. Quong to complete his studies examining changes in protein levels in breast tumors. From these observed changes, Dr. Quong’s team found changes in the metabolism of tumor cells that are related to the local microenvironment of the tumor. These changes in metabolism can potentially be exploited for both imaging and drug development. In addition, Dr. Quong has continued his work identifying markers that are indicators of toxicity and response to therapy.

In 2012-2013, the goal of Dr. Quong’s research is to determine new strategies for patient treatment that include radiation therapy. By measuring the protein and gene expression in tumors, his will use this information for choosing treatment and also monitoring the patients’ response to treatment both for effectiveness and adverse side effects.



Need to Analyze Your Next-Generation Sequencing Data? Thomas Jefferson University’s New Web-Based Resource Makes the Task Easy

Isidore Rigoutsos, Ph.D.

In the early 1990s, an international effort was launched by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health to sequence the human genome. The project took 13 years, involved many scientists in several countries, and cost $2.7 billion (in FY 1991) dollars.

Since then, technological advances and the advent of next generation sequencing have greatly increased the speed at which the genome or the transcriptome of a model organism such as human or mouse can be sequenced. Nowadays, a typical sequencing platform can generateseveral billion bases of DNA or RNA in the course of a few days and can do so at a far lower cost.

However, such an embarrassment of riches poses difficulties for the typical research groups who would like to make use of this technology but are neither accustomed nor equipped to handle the great amounts of data that can now be generated. To help address this problem, Thomas Jefferson University is making available to researchers and clinicians such an analytical capability on the web.

The resource, referred to as HandsFree, is a system that was designed and implemented by the Computational Medicine Center at Thomas Jefferson University. The goal of HandsFree is to provide researchers and clinicians at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals with the ability to analyze the large datasets that next generation sequencing platforms generate. And since HandsFree is web-based, scientists at other universities, in the Delaware Valley and elsewhere, could also take advantage of it.

“It is a unique resource to academic research and medicine,” says Isidore Rigoutsos, Ph.D., Director of the Center. “I don’t know of any other research institution or medical center that currently makes a similar system available to their researchers and clinicians.”

How does it work? Dr. Rigoutsos offers as an example a researcher who wants to understand a particular aspect of the biology of Alzheimer’s disease, and who has brain samples taken from a deceased patient, as well as samples from a normal brain. The investigator would give the samples to the sequencing facility at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and several days later she will get back data files typically containing 200 million sequences for each sequenced sample, he says.

“This is where HandsFree comes in,” Dr. Rigoutsos says. “The investigator can access HandsFree through her computer browser, securely transfer the sequencing dataset to the HandsFree web-server, and answer a few questions about the type of data and desired analyses. At this point, the data will be placed in a queue with other datasets for analysis by the Computational Medicine Center’s computers. When the dataset reaches the front of the queue, it will be quality-trimmed and preprocessed, then mapped on the corresponding genome followed by a series of analyses that are typical for such data.”

“The system will also generate genomic maps for the investigator to also enable subsequent off-line visual exploration. The generated results and maps are then placed back on the HandsFree web-server and the investigator is notified through email that the output is ready for collection,” he says.

“The whole process is as hands-free as it can get for these kinds of datasets,” Dr. Rigoutsos says. “The investigator still has some work ahead of them but the system does all the ‘heavy lifting’ for them taking the guess-work out and making this kind of analysis easy to harness.”

It took his team one and a half years to put the HandsFree system together. The underlying pipeline uses both publicly available standard tools as well as tools that the team specifically developed to automate the whole process. “HandsFree enables others to access the very same pipeline that we use ourselves for our own basic research. In this regard, the pipeline’s components have already been ‘vetted’ by us,” says Dr. Rigoutsos.

Very importantly, the system handles the data in a secure fashion, he adds. “Any data that the investigator exchanges with HandsFree is encrypted in both directions. Moreover, the processing and analyses of the data are carried out by the Center’s machines in a separate and secure high performance computing facility.”

Currently, the HandsFree system can accommodate DNA and RNA datasets generated by several popular sequencing platforms, from both human and mouse. “For these datasets, the user can carry out a number of standard analyses at the click of a button,” Dr. Rigoutsos says. “A whole host of additional capabilities is in the process of being implemented and will be enabled in HandsFree in the months ahead.”

The system is now available to researchers, and the cost for analyzing these datasets “is very reasonable,” he says. “HandsFree will help advance medical science, and we are very pleased to have it online and available to our researchers and to others.”

The system can be accessed at http://cm.jefferson.edu/HandsFree

For more information, contact: Jackie Kozloski, 215-955-5296 or jackie.kozloski@jefferson.edu.



Tool to Ensure Accuracy of Radiation Treatment Plan Will Improve Quality and Save Time for Cancer Patients

It is critical that a cancer treatment plan that uses radiation be checked, and checked again, before patients are exposed to the therapy. Radiation mistakes can reduce survival, increased toxicity, and result in poor tumor control. Evaluating the radiation treatment plan, however, can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially in large-scale multi-institutional clinical trials, say radiation physicists at Thomas Jefferson University and at China’s Fudan University.

Now, these physicists have collaboratively developed a computer-based plan-quality evaluation program they say improves quality and efficiency for cancer patients participating in clinical trials.

In the May 14 issue of Physics in Medicine and Biology, investigators demonstrates that use of a semi-automated process improves review efficiency by reducing human error and minimizing wait times for patients.

Physicist Jiazhou Wang, M.S., from the Department of Radiation Oncology at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center and physicist Ying Xiao, Ph.D., of Thomas Jefferson University lead respective international collaborative team efforts to develop the quality improvement methodology, which can also be used in a clinical setting.

“The tools developed from the study will benefit Chinese radiation oncology departments where a large number of patients are being cared for,” says Zhen Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center.

In multi-institutional clinical oncology trials, verifying medical physics plan quality takes time, and is both laborious and costly. This study evaluated reducing the waiting period for treatment by automating critical data parameters for multiple benefits.  It measured the effectiveness of an XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based data collection system in plan-quality evaluation.

The study found that there was a slight improvement in data accuracy, but a marked improvement in evaluation time.  XML was developed to create a plan evaluation report, which improves the clarity of specific dose-volume and other indices thereby improving communication and simplifying future analysis, says Dr. Xiao.

“As comprehensive radiation treatment technologies become more precise, our ability to effectively evaluate plan quality through improved communication tools among multi-disciplinary physicians and researchers improves patient care,” states Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of radiation oncology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center (FUS), one of the largest cancer centers located in Shanghai, will become the first affiliate member of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, sponsored by the Department of Radiation Oncology, Thomas Jefferson University, Kimmel Cancer Center. “This historical accomplishment was achieved by a decade of close collaboration between physicians and scientists from Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center and Thomas Jefferson University,” Dr. Dicker says.

This work was funded in part by the NCI P30 grant to the Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University.

For more information, contact: Jackie Kozloski, 215-955-5296, jackie.kozloski@jefferson.edu.



KCC Ranked as One of Best Cancer Hospitals in US

Men’s Health magazine recently ranked the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson among the best in the nation, calling out its success in treating prostate cancer, a leading cancer in men.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses in 2013.

Jefferson scientist, Matthew Schiewer, Ph.D., recently received the Prostate Cancer Benjamin Franklin Young Investigator Award, and will use the funds to help find treatments for advanced-stage prostate cancers.

Jefferson is home to top-of-the-line equipment and high-tech features like electron and photon-beam treatment and complete 3-D treatment planning.  We offer comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options for prostate cancer in addition to state-of-the-art prostate imaging and biopsy service.

When indicated, a prostatectomy can be performed either laparoscopically or via open surgery.  Jefferson physicians were the first in the Delaware Valley to remove the prostate laparoscopically, and have extensive experience with and numerous scientific publications on the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System.

“It is rewarding for our team to be recognized for excellence in cancer care,” says Richard G. Pestell, MD, PhD, MBBS, FRACP, MBA, Kimmel Cancer Center Director.  “We are one of only eight NCI-Designated cancer centers in the United States with a prostate program formally reviewed and endorsed by the National Cancer Institute. This program, led by Leonard Gomella, MD and Karen Knudsen, PhD, is a powerhouse of key advances in prostate cancer.  Our leading edge research and clinical care excellence across a wide spectrum of cancer specialties, including men’s health, enable us to deliver the best outcomes for our patients.”

Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson

The Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated clinical cancer center for excellence in cancer care and research. U.S.News & World Report also recognizes Jefferson as one of the best hospitals in the nation for Cancer care. Taking into account your varied needs, our nationally renowned cancer experts bring together a team of specialists in a wide range of disciplines to work with you and your primary care or referring physician to devise a personalized treatment plan.

The physicians and scientists of the Kimmel Cancer Center have helped pioneer new approaches to cancer treatment by transforming scientific discoveries into improved patient care. Our physicians are experienced in using the most advanced treatment methods and technologies and are at the forefront of developing new therapies. As a result, you may have the opportunity to take part in one of the more than 120 clinical trials for promising new cancer treatments being conducted at Jefferson at any given time.

by Danielle Servetnick on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 in Cancer CareIn The News.



Kimmel Cancer Center “All Hands” Meeting

The Kimmel Cancer Center held it’s quarterly “All Hands” meeting on May 1, 2013. Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, delivered his quarterly “State of the Cancer Center” address. Awards were presented in four categories. A special “Lifetime Achievement” Award was presented to Jouni J. Uitto, MD. The Basic Science Award was presented to Scott Waldman, MD, PhD. The Clinical Science Award was presented to Nicole Simone, MD. The Administration Award was present to Oliver Dutton. Also a special presentation on the services offered by Cancer Genomics Shared Resource was present by Paolo Fortina, MD.

Dr, Jouni Uitto receives Special "Lifetime Acheivement" Award from Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Scott Waldmn Receives Basic Science Award From Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Nicole Simone Receives Clinical Science Award From Dr. Adam Dicker

Mr. Oliver Dutton Receives Administration Award From Ms. Mika Harding



ACS-IRG Pilot Projects Awarded for 2012

The Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson hosted the Annual ACS-IRG Luncheon on November 11. The 2012 Pilot Project recipients are S. Onder Alpdogan, MD; Amy Leader, DrPh, MPH; and Jianqing Lin, MD; all of the Department of Medical Oncology; Scott Keith, PhD; from the department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics; Nicole Simone, MD; department of Radiation Oncology; and Christopher Snyder, PhD; department of Microbiology & Immunology. They briefly explained their research projects to Lynne Ayres, MBA, Director of Research Communications, and Larry Slagle, Distinguished Giving Director, of the East Central Division of the American Cancer Society. Ms. Ayres and Mr. Slagle explained the ACS mission and offered ways in which the Pilot Project recipients would be able to assist them in that mission.

Left to Right: Nicole Simone, Jianqing Lin, Marja Nevalainen, Larry Slagle, Lynne Ayres, Christopher Snyder, Amy Leader, and Scott Keith.




Kimmel Cancer Center “All Hands Meeting”

The Kimmel Cancer Center held it’s quarterly “All Hands” meeting on December 12, 2012. Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, delivered his quarterly “State of the Cancer Center” address. Awards were presented in 3 categories. The Administration Award was presented to the KCC Post-Award Administration Group (Dina Liebowitz, Melissa McDaid Dyer, Melanie Elliott, Karen Gosik, Tracey Kajkowski, Kathy Wyszynski, Rick Yellis and Pam Bachman). The Nursing Award was presented to Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (Patricia Cornett Farley, Michael Sun, Ngoc Bao Ho, Minh Duc Tran, Brendan McGuire and Barbara Stanback). The Clinical Award was presented to Matthew Carabasi, MD. There were also special presentations about upcoming Consortium-wide Pilot/Special Project Funding opportunities. Dr. Richard Davidson discussed the American Cancer Society – Institutional Research Grant. Drs. Andrew Quong and Noreen Robertson discussed the KCC Pilot Project Program (funding provided by TJU and Drexel). Dr. Banu Onaral and Mr. Davood Tashayyod discussed the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Translational Research Partnership Program.

Dr. Matthew Carabasi receives the Clinician Award from Drs. Neal Flomenberg and Richard Pestell

The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit receives the Nursing Award from Drs. Neal Flomenbger and Richard Pestell



Kimmel Cancer Center “All Hands Meeting”

The Kimmel Cancer Center held it’s quarterly “All Hands” meeting on September 12, 2012. Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, delivered his quarterly “State of the Cancer Center” address. Awards were presented in 4 categories. The Administration Award was presented to Janene Palidora. The Nursing Award was presented to Cheryl Santosusso. The Clinical Award was presented to Vochita Bar Ad, MD. The Basic Science/”Discovery of the Year” Award was presented to George Prendergast, PhD. In addition to the KCC Awards, the “Distinguished Mentor” Award was presented to Karen Knudsen. PhD by the Jefferson College of Graduate Studies Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the Jefferson Postdoctoral Association. Dr. Renato Iozzo also received the “Distinguished Mentor” award. See JCGS Page for more

Dr. Noreen Robertson receives the Administration Award from Drs. Richard Pestell and Richard Davidson

Ms. Janene Palindora receives Administration Award from Mr. Richard Haldeman

Ms. Cheryl Santosusso receives Nursing Award from Dr. Neal Flomenberg

Ms. Cheryl Santosusso receives Nursing Award from Dr. Neal Flomenberg

Dr. Vochita Bar Ad receives the Clinicican Award from Dr. Neal Floimenberg

Dr. George Prendergast receives Basic Science/"Discovery of the Year" Award from Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Karen Knudsen receives JCGS "Distinguished Mentor" Award from Dr. Lisa Kozlowski




Kimmel Cancer Center “All Hands Meeting”

The Kimmel Cancer Center held it’s quarterly “All Hands” meeting on June 19, 2012. Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of  the Kimmel Cancer Center, delivered his quarterly “State of the Cancer Center” address. Awards were presented in 3 categories. The Administration Award was presented to Rita Genovese, CPC, PCS. The Basic Science Award was presented to Adam Ertel, PhD. The Nursing Award was presented to Susan Krick, RN. The Clinical Award was presented to Edith Mitchell, MD.

Ms. Rita Genovese receives Administrative Award from Mr. Richard Haldeman

Ms. Susan Krick receives Nursing Award from Dr. Adam Dicker

Dr. Adam Ertel receives the Basic Science Award from Dr. Richard Davidson

Dr. Adam Ertel receives the Basic Science Award from Dr. Richard Davidson