UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Celebrates 5th Anniversary with Open House

For more than three decades, researchers and clinicians at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have led the way in cutting-edge cancer research and patient care. On Saturday, January 22, 2011, they will celebrate five years of delivering comprehensive outpatient cancer care and dedicated research in a single location as the Moores Cancer Center hosts an open house… Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Catriona Jamieson Receives $3.34 Million CIRM Grant for Leukemia Research

Dr. Catriona Jamieson

Dr. Catriona Jamieson has received a $3.34-million Early Translational II award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

Dr. Jamieson, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, is Director of Stem Cell Research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. The new CIRM award will support her efforts to develop treatments that reduce the risk of relapse in leukemia.

Dr. Jamieson is one of two UCSD researchers to receive CIRM grants this week.

Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom.

Read a 2008 interview with Dr. Jamieson about her leukemia research.

Appreciation and a Fond Farewell to Dr. Ken Kaushansky

Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACPOn July 19, Dr. Ken Kaushansky officially begins his work as Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York.

When he announced his departure to the faculty and staff of the UCSD Department of Medicine on June 7, he described his new position as an opportunity to implement, on a larger scale, the successful programs that the Department of Medicine has instituted under his leadership here.

He called his years at UCSD a time of “incredible transition in our faculty, our leaders, our teaching programs, and our clinical impact.”

During Dr. Kaushansky’s tenure as Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair, the Department of Medicine expanded from 253 to over 420 faculty members, added four divisions, and recruited 11 division chiefs. Its annual budget grew from $86 million to nearly $150 million.

Dr. Robert Schooley“Dr. Kaushansky has been an outstanding Chair for this department,” said Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Medicine.“

During his eight years as Chair, the medical house staff program became one of the most highly regarded programs in the country. New divisions in Hospital Medicine, Biomedical Informatics, Geriatrics, and Global Public Health were developed and research programs thrived throughout the Department,” Dr. Schooley said.

“In response to increasing interest in international medicine among the medical house staff, Dr. Kaushansky launched the Department’s Global Medicine Residency Program in 2009,” he said.“Dr. Kaushansky worked with his counterpart at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane to establish a model program in international cooperation that has revitalized postgraduate medical training in the Republic of Mozambique.”

Dr. Kaushansky with Drs. Marisa Magaña, Emilia Noormahomed, and Robert Schooley in Mozambique Dr. Kaushansky on a global medicine planning trip to China.Dr. Kaushansky with Drs. Marisa Magaña, Emilia Noormahomed, and Robert Schooley in Mozambique (left); on global medicine program planning trip to China (right).

Since 2002, the Department’s NIH research funding has grown from $60 million to $113.6 million. It has more than twice as many complex multi-investigator program-project grants and career development awards granted to the junior faculty and fellows.

The Department has also boosted its showing in the “America’s Best Hospitals” rankings from U.S.News & World Report. In 2002, two subspecialty clinical programs ranked in the nation’s top 50: respiratory at 9th and cancer at 41st. In the most recent rankings, five subspecialties ranked in the top 50, including one (HIV/AIDS) in the top 10.

Dr. Greg Maynard“Ken was directly responsible for building up the strength of clinical care at UCSD,” said Dr. Greg Maynard (right), Health Sciences Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine.

“He recruited me here about 7-1/2 years ago, and in that time, the Hospital Medicine program has grown from 4 hospitalists to nearly 30, as just one example of that.”

“Dr Kaushansky nurtured my career here at UCSD,” said Dr. Pradipta Ghosh (below left), physician-scientist and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Pradipta Ghosh“As a product of the Physician-Scientist Training Program,” she said, “I am one of those few who enjoyed special access to this busy department chair. His doors were always open. I recall having multiple consultations with him at various stages of my career as it grew here at UCSD.

“When the time came for me to choose where to spend the first decade of my young career as an independent investigator, it was his support and a match in our visions which tilted my decision in favor of UCSD,” she said.

“His tireless efforts at instilling the physician-scientist culture here in the Department of Medicine, both from top-down and bottom-up, have paved the path for many young folks like me to craft a career for themselves as physician-scientists,” Dr. Ghosh said.

Dr. John Carethers“Ken was the reason why I eventually accepted the GI Chief job at UCSD,” said Dr. John M. Carethers (right), now John G. Searle Professor and Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan.

When Dr. Kaushansky joined the UCSD faculty, Dr. Carethers was an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. Dr. Carethers became division chief in 2004

“Ken … gave me enough autonomy to help grow the GI Division, gain a GI Center grant, coordinate well with the Cancer Center and other divisions, and allowed me to grow personally,” Dr. Carethers said. “The GI Division flourished under that mantra.

“We went to a clinical service chief structure, developed a new hierarchy for our administrative staff, started a robust web site, grew our fellowship, and survived many challenges over that time because of his support,” he said.

“Ken provided invaluable advice on my career,” Dr. Carethers said. “He was a great sounding board, not pretentious; encouraging, but never overprotective. I think he understood the value of growth and opportunity, something that is hard to come by these days.”

Dr. Patricia FinnDr. Patricia Finn (left), Professor and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, described Dr. Kaushansky as “a tireless advocate for his faculty.”

“He is accessible 24/7 to offer support and guidance, which is huge to a new faculty member just moving cross country,” she said.

“On a personal note, when I had barely arrived here he was already nominating me for positions and committees to help me advance my career.”

Dr. Kirk Knowlton“His integrity, fairness, and open-mindedness built an environment of trust that allowed the substantial growth of the Department of Medicine during his tenure as Chair,” said Dr. Kirk U. Knowlton (right), Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiology.

“I am struck by how he has been able to hold the respect of so many people with widely disparate interests,” Dr. Knowlton said.

“This included people who were fully engaged in basic science and those who were busy taking excellent care of their patients; medical students and residents and post-graduate research fellows; administrators and faculty; and others over whom he might have had influence or who crossed his path.

“The people he has worked with knew that they could count on him to represent their interests in the context of the institution’s goals in a considered and reasonable manner while at the same time maintaining his vision of the future of the Department of Medicine.”

“He is a rare breed,” Dr. Maynard said. “I guess I’d call him a quadruple threat. An outstanding scientist, a superb clinician, a great educator, and an incredible leader and administrator to boot.

“While he is not really replaceable,” he said, “he has left an enduring legacy that stresses clinical and operational excellence, as well as research contributions.”

Dr. Finn said, “In addition to [his] world-class scientific reputation, Dr. Kaushansky is most respected for his character and vision.”

“He makes his department and faculty a priority, while striving to always do the right thing for the patients,” she said. “He will be most remembered for his infectious enthusiasm, upbeat attitude, and steady, insightful guidance of students and faculty.”

“He leaves an 8-year legacy that advanced the Department of Medicine in many ways,” said Dr. Carethers, “including growing faculty, changing the way residents learn, obtaining key recruitments for division chiefs and faculty, enhancing VA relations, and being an all out cheerleader for the Department.”

On June 21, Dr. Kaushansky was honored at a farewell reception hosted by David Brenner, M.D., Dean of the UCSD School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences. In his remarks there, Dr. Kaushansky expressed his appreciation for “eight and a half years of good friends, challenges, and teamwork.”

Observing that he had been involved in recruiting many of the faculty members in the room, he said, “Everything at UCSD works toward recruiting great people.”

“It’s easy, at UCSD, to build things and to make a difference,” he said. “Everybody makes everyone else stronger.”

Dr. Kaushansky praised UCSD’s “incredible richness” of people, science, teaching, and clinical programs. “I’ve never seen more devotion to the three missions,” he said.

And now he looks ahead.

“In academic medicine, you get to re-craft yourself every ten years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my newly-found steep learning curve.”

Dr. Kaushansky was honored at a tribute from the senior leaders of the Department of Medicine on July 11. There will be a tribute from all departmental staff, faculty, and house staff on a date to be selected.

“Although one could cite metric after metric by which his unceasing efforts strengthened the Department,” said Dr. Schooley, “what many of us think distinguished his tenure most was the way in which his ‘bottom up’ style of leadership brought out the best in all of us.

“The Department will benefit for many years to come from things he set in motion – as will each of its members from what we learned from his multifaceted demonstration of scholarship, integrity, imagination and dedication to his Department.”

Drs. Ken Kaushansky and Wolfgang Dillmann   Drs. Ken Kaushansky and Wolfgang DillmannDr. Kaushansky with newly designated Interim Chair Wolfgang Dillmann, M.D.

UC San Diego Researcher Awarded $5.3 Million for Breast Cancer Survivorship Study

Dr. Barbara A. Parker is an investigator in the new clinical trial described in “UC San Diego Researcher Awarded $5.3 Million for Breast Cancer Survivorship Study” from the UCSD Newsroom.

Barbara A. Parker, M.D., Medical Director of Oncology Services for the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, is Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova Leads UCSD Clinical Trials of Promising New Lung Cancer Treatment

The Moores UCSD Cancer Center’s clinical trials of a promising new lung cancer treatment are the subject of the UCSD Newsroom story, “New Lung Cancer Drug Shows Dramatic Results for Shrinking Tumors.”

Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova is principal investigator for the clinical trials underway at UCSD. Lyudmila Bazhenova, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Medical Director of the Infusion Center at Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

In the Media: Dr. Tony Reid

Dr. Tony Reid is featured in the La Jolla Light story, “Athletes race against cancer at Spring Sprint benefit.”

Tony Reid, M.D., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

In the Media: Drs. Dennis Carson and Catriona Jamieson

Dr. Dennis Carson and Dr. Catriona Jamieson are featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune story, “Leukemia under the microscope: UCSD cancer center gets $20 million research grant.” Read UCSD’s press release about this major funding award here.

Dennis Carson, MD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology; Director, Moores UCSD Cancer Center; and Chugai Pharmaceutical Chair in Cancer.

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Director of Stem Cell Research at Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

Translational Stem-Cell Research: Potential New Treatment for Blood Disorders Now in Clinical Trial

Dr. Catriona M. H. Jamieson and colleagues are performing the first clinical trial of a promising new treatment that was identified in the laboratory only last year.

The treatment may offer new hope to individuals who have myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs). MPDs can evolve into leukemia.

Catriona M. H. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., is Director for Stem Cell Research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. She is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

The findings that led to the clinical trial were published in Cancer Cell in April 2008. Read the report

Read the full story from UC San Diego Health Sciences Communications

More Information:

Dr. Linda Wasserman Retires from Cancer Center

Linda Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Division of Genetics, has retired from her position at UC San Diego.

Dr. Wasserman served the Moores UCSD Cancer Center in medical genetics for many years, most recently as leader of the DNA Sequencing Shared Resource.

Dennis Carson, M.D., Director of the Cancer Center, and colleagues gathered at the Cancer Center on March 26 to honor Dr. Wasserman for her contributions.

Read the full story from the Cancer Center

More Information:

Dr. Barbara Parker Embracing the Challenge

“Healing and hope,” says Dr. Barbara Parker, “are always possible.”

With optimism and a deep sense of gratitude, she has begun her tenure as Medical Director of Oncology Services at Moores Cancer Center and UCSD Medical Center.

Moores UCSD Cancer Center and Dr. Barbara A. Parker
The Moores UCSD Cancer Center and Dr. Barbara A. Parker, new Medical Director of Oncology Services.

A longtime UCSD physician, researcher, and administrator, Dr. Parker was pleased to be asked to step into this challenging and influential role. She sees it as an opportunity to work at a new level to provide the best possible medical – and emotional – care for her patients.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and privilege.”

“I feel very blessed,” she says. “The Cancer Center and all of UCSD have a very dedicated staff of nurses, faculty physicians, and researchers.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and privilege to work with all of them to advance new therapies that will improve the medical and the psychological care of our patients.”

From the beginning of her career, her desire has been to provide emotional as well as medical care for her patients.

“For me, taking care of the emotional as well as the medical needs of patients is very profound,” she says, “and the privilege of addressing emotional and medical needs led me to choose a career in internal medicine and medical oncology.”

She received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation last year. It is an honor granted to doctors who demonstrate extraordinary compassion.

In her new position, she oversees cancer care services for thousands of patients. The Moores UCSD Cancer Center had over 70,000 outpatient visits to its multidisciplinary clinic, infusion center, procedure suite, and radiation oncology facility last year.
Her chief challenge, she says, is to improve the transition between inpatient and outpatient care. The goal is to provide a continuum of medical and emotional support for each patient.

This means coordinating among everyone involved, including the patients themselves.

To illustrate the breadth of this challenge, she points out how many facilities and departments are involved in a single patient’s care.

The goal is to provide
a continuum of care.

The patient visits the hospital, the outpatient clinics, the infusion center, and the radiation treatment facilities. He or she receives care from specialists in medical oncology, surgery, radiation oncology, and psychosocial services.

All of the specialists must work in concert to make sure that every issue in a patient’s care is tracked and resolved.

In addition, hospital and clinic resources must be managed so that patient care is optimized; staff and facilities are maintained and assigned efficiently. Patients must have urgent care clinic space or inpatient hospital beds available when they are needed.

“The key is communication,” she said.

A vital part of this effort, she says, is making sure that the patients have the information they need so that they know what to expect and whom to call when they need care.

“Our goal is to educate
our patients so that they feel
empowered to make choices.”

“Our patients want to learn about their disease and participate in their care,” she says. “Our goal is to educate them so that they feel empowered to make choices.”

Without the proper education and support from healthcare professionals, she says, medical information can create uncertainty and fear.

Patients receive information from doctors, from other patients, and – increasingly – from the Internet.

“Part of our job is to help them evaluate what is relevant and what is not,” she says.

“We encourage our patients to bring in the materials they are reading, and we try to teach them how to evaluate the information.

The Moores UCSD Cancer Center provides a list of reliable sources of information about cancer:

See “Coping with Cancer – Resources and Education.”

“It’s important to validate their enthusiasm, their concern, their curiosity, and their desire to partner in their care.”

One of her particular interests is in facilitating patients’ access to safe and effective new treatments. She is working toward that goal administratively as well as in her own research.

She pursues several areas of cancer research in collaboration with other researchers at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

Facilitating access
to new therapies
is one of her priorities.

Through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), she is involved in a study that looks at the changes observed in breast cancer patients who have been exposed to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) before breast cancer surgery. These agents may have a role in cancer prevention.

She is also teaming with Dr. Sonia Ancoli-Israel and associates to study issues of “chemobrain” and sleep disorders in breast cancer patients. Addressing quality of life issues in all cancer patients is important to overall care.

With Principal Investigator Dr. John P. Pierce, Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Moores Cancer Center, she is Medical Director of the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study.

That study, with 7-1/2 years of follow-up in more than 3000 women who are survivors of breast cancer, was published last July in JAMA.

The study found that intense dietary modification with fruits and vegetables above the standard five-a-day recommendation did not impact survival.

However, several additional sub-studies are currently examining issues of the relationship of hot flashes to survival, the effect of hormone replacement therapy on the type of breast cancer, and the frequency with which family history changes over time.

Dr. Parker is also UCSD Principal Investigator of Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), a large clinical trials cooperative group funded by the National Cancer Institute to test new therapies.

She has just been asked to serve on the CALGB Prevention Committee.

In recent years, she has taken on a greater role in administration involving cancer patient care.

After serving on the Board of Governors of the UCSD Medical Group for several years, she recently was elected to serve on their Executive Committee.

As part of this service, she has had the opportunity to bring her expertise and interest in the clinical arena to focus on operational issues for the Medical Group.

When the Medical Director of Oncology Services position became available, she saw the opportunity to apply her skills as a clinician with her interest in operational issues to solve important problems in the delivery of patient care.

Dr. Parker says she had an early passion for mathematics and science. She began her education at a time when “doors were just opening for women in the sciences.”

She majored in applied mathematics in college and then, with the urging of her family, changed to pre-med.

“I’m a clinician at heart.”

“I’ve never looked back,” she said. “I wanted to be a real doctor and take care of the whole patient.”

She received her M.D. degree from Stanford and trained in internal medicine (residency) and hematology/oncology (fellowship) at UCSD.

Then, she spent 7 years on the UCSD faculty before serving as a medical director in drug development with San Diego’s Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

In 1999, she returned to UCSD. “I’m a clinician at heart,” she said.

Since 1999, she has been a Professor of Clinical Medicine in Hematology-Oncology and researcher in the Moores Cancer Center’s Tumor Growth, Invasion & Metastasis Program.

She has been named as one of San Diego’s “Top Doctors by the San Diego County Medical Society.

During medical school, she says, she was inspired by medical oncologists who became role models for her.

Once she came to UCSD, she found more role models and mentors here, Dr. Mark Green and Dr. John Mendelsohn, former Moores UCSD Cancer Center directors.

It was during medical school at Stanford that she met her husband, who is a basic science cancer researcher.

“We call it the marriage of science and medicine,” she smiles.

Her husband is Geoff Wahl, Ph.D., a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research.

He is actively involved in advocacy for scientific research funding and has been invited to serve on the board of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

In his basic research in the causes of cancer, Dr. Wahl focuses on genomic instability, therapeutic strategies based upon the p53 tumor suppressor pathway, and the role of stems cells in breast cancer.

Dr. Parker and Dr. Wahl have two children, a daughter who is a freshman at Tufts University and a son who is a senior at Stanford.

“Our children are our two most successful experiments,” she says warmly.

More Information:

Moores UCSD Cancer Center

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