National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
May 3, 2011 • Volume 8 / Number 9


NCI's Gottesman and Fraumeni Receive Prestigious Honors

Drs. Susan Gottesman and Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr. Drs. Susan Gottesman and
Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr.

Dr. Susan Gottesman, co-chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, is the 2011 winner of the Abbott‐ASM Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM) premier award for sustained contributions to the microbiological sciences.

Dr. Gottesman’s recent work on small regulatory RNAs and energy-dependent proteolysis has uncovered two important regulatory mechanisms in cells, answering basic questions about cancer and leading to further areas of research. Dr. Gottesman has been elected to the American Academy of Microbiology, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

ASM is the world’s oldest and largest life sciences organization and has more than 40,000 members worldwide. The Abbott‐ASM Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented during the ASM’s general meeting, May 21–24, 2011, in New Orleans, LA.

Dr. Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was recognized for research that helped to uncover the genetic and environmental determinants of cancer, leading to new avenues for prevention. Dr. Fraumeni has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the Association of American Physicians.
Dr. Fraumeni is one of 212 new members selected to join the academy, a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to studies of science and technology policy, global security, and other academic areas.

The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. The new members, including Dr. Fraumeni, will be inducted at a ceremony on October 1 at the academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA.

NCI Experts Advise U.S. Embassy Staff in Japan during Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

Drs. Steve Simon and C. Norman Coleman Drs. Steve Simon and C. Norman Coleman

At the request of U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie deployed a team of subject matter experts to advise U.S. embassy staff in Tokyo on ways to protect Americans in Japan during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crisis. Dr. C. Norman Coleman, associate director of NCI’s Radiation Research Program, and Dr. Steve Simon, a health physicist in NCI’s Radiation Epidemiology Branch, were part of the team that also included Jana Telfer and Tom Bowman of the CDC and Capt. Michael Noska of the FDA.

The team spent several weeks in Japan consulting on a range of issues related to radiation exposure and the health of Americans in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear crisis. They advised on what constituted safe levels of radioactivity in food and drinking water, the necessity of and conditions for evacuation around the power plant and the conditions for return, and the circumstances under which Americans should take potassium iodide to prevent radiation exposure to the thyroid. The team developed communication materials for the embassy to use to convey health and safety information to American citizens living in Japan.

“We evaluated measurements of radiation levels in Tokyo and interpreted them into potential health risks,” explained Dr. Simon. “With that information, American citizens could determine whether they wished to leave or stay, and whether or not to take precautions. That’s a very individual decision,” he explained.

The team also worked with colleagues in the Japanese government to develop research questions that will need to be addressed, added Dr. Coleman.

Videos of the expert team members speaking on topics related to the Fukushima nuclear crisis are currently available on the Web site of the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.

NCI's Clinical Assay Development Program Seeks Project Applications

The NCI Clinical Assay Development Program (CADP), a new initiative for researchers in academia, government, and industry, is requesting project applications from investigators seeking clinical assay validation resources. These resources are designed to assist with the development of assays that may predict therapy response or prognostic behavior of a diagnosed cancer, primarily for use in clinical trials. Approved projects will be provided access to NCI’s assay development and validation resources, including project management support.

Applicants should define the intended clinical use for the assay for which support is requested. Assays submitted for validation should have been tested on human tissue. As part of the application, investigators are required to provide basic assay protocol(s). Proposals will be reviewed for scientific merit, feasibility, and clinical importance.

Please note that this call for applications is not a solicitation for biomarker discovery and is not a grants program. Learn more about CADP or submit an application online. The 2011 deadlines for CADP applications are June 15 and October 15.

President's Cancer Panel Report Focuses on Need for Better Understanding of Diverse Populations

Cover of the President’s Cancer Panel 2009–2010 Annual Report

Last week, the President’s Cancer Panel released its 2009–2010 annual report, America’s Demographic and Cultural Transformation: Implications for Cancer. The report identifies an urgent need to expand research and improve understanding of the factors that influence cancer risk and outcomes among diverse populations. In the report, the panel also calls for higher standards of cultural competence among health care professionals to better address cultural and language barriers that can have a negative impact on the quality of patient care.

The President’s Cancer Panel was established by the National Cancer Act of 1971. It is an independent entity that is charged with monitoring the National Cancer Program and reporting annually to the president on any barriers to the execution of the program. 

Panel members are appointed by the president. Current members include Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., of Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Although the panel receives logistical and staff support from NCI, it does not conduct scientific research and its conclusions and recommendations should not be inferred as policy or perspectives of NCI.

Second Telephone Workshop for Cancer Survivors Addresses Weight Changes

The second of four telephone workshops in NCI’s annual, “Living With, Through, and Beyond Cancer,” series will be held May 10. Part II of the series is titled “Weight Changes after Cancer Treatments: Why Is It Happening and What Can I Do About It?

This free series offers cancer survivors, their families and friends, and health care professionals practical information to help them cope with concerns and issues that arise after treatment ends. The workshops are presented by CancerCare, in collaboration with NCI, LIVESTRONG, the American Cancer Society, the Intercultural Cancer Council, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.

Speakers for the May 10 workshop include Dr. Anna L. Schwartz of the University of Washington and St. John’s Medical Center, Dr. Jennifer A. Ligibel of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Dr. Cheryl L. Rock of the University of California, San Diego.

The workshops are free, and no telephone charges apply. To register, visit the CancerCare Web site. All workshops will take place on Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT. The two remaining workshops will be held on the following dates:

If you missed Part I of the series, “Chemobrain: The Impact of Cancer Treatments on Memory, Thinking, and Attention,” a recording is available online via podcast.

Registry of Measures for Childhood Obesity Research Available

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)—a collaboration among CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NIH, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—has launched a free, searchable online registry of measures and resources to use in childhood obesity research.  NCCOR’s Measures Registry is an interactive Web tool developed to facilitate access to available measures, describe the operational characteristics of the measures and populations in which the measures have been used, help identify gaps in measures, and encourage the development of new measures. 

The registry includes almost 750 measures on individual dietary behavior, food environment, individual physical activity, and physical activity environment. These measures come from questionnaires, instruments, diaries, logs, electronic devices, direct observation of people or environments, protocols, and analytic techniques. Users can search for measures and details about how to use them, find measures in development, link to other measures registries and related resources, and submit new measures for inclusion.  

To learn about the features and uses of the registry, sign up for the May 19 webinar online.

As a reminder, a webinar on the features and uses of the NCCOR Catalogue of Surveillance Systems is scheduled for May 5. The catalogue, also an NCCOR product, is an interactive Web tool that provides one-stop access to a wide array of obesity-related data sources at multiple levels. Using the catalogue, researchers can identify data resources, compare attributes across systems, and link to other resources of interest. To register for the May 5 webinar, go online.