Bicyclist with a mission comes to Emory

Cindy and Amy Giver

Cindy Giver, Emory researcher, with her sister Amy at the end of her long bicycle journey

Amy Giver estimates she rode her bicycle some 6,000 miles over the past five months on a mission to raise awareness and recruit new donors for the national bone marrow donor registry. The registry, operated by the Be The Match organization, matches unrelated donors to people with life-threatening blood cancers who need a bone marrow transplant.

After traversing the country from the West Coast to the East Coast, Giver wrapped up her journey at Emory University Hospital, where she was greeted by her sister, Cindy Giver, a Winship Cancer Institute researcher, and taken up to the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center in the hospital to be welcomed and congratulated by staff and patients.

Giver, a CrossFit trainer, says when she first learned how matched unrelated donors can save the lives of people with leukemia and other blood cancers, she took up the cause at her gym in Silicon Valley and signed up 80 members to the registry. That convinced her to combine a lifelong goal, cycling across the USA, with a mission to support Be The Match donor drives in communities around the country. The more potential donors in the registry, the better chance patients have of finding a match.

Amy’s sister Cindy has been a bone marrow transplant researcher at Winship for 15 years.  Giver and her colleagues in the lab of Edmund K. Waller, MD, pursue translational research aimed at improving outcomes and lessening side effects from bone marrow and stem cell transplantation. Winship’s bone marrow transplant program is a leader in this area of cancer treatment, having performed almost 5,000 transplants.

Amy ended her ride just in time to attend the annual Be The Match Soirèe that took place Sept. 19 in Atlanta. The event recognized Winship’sAmelia Langston, MD, interim chair of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology in the Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of the Winship Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program. Langston was awarded the 2015 Be The Match Leadership Award for her outstanding commitment to the organization and to advancing bone marrow transplant research and treatment.

Read the original article posted in the Emory News Center.

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Reclassifying Brain Tumors with Precision

8-24 cancerGroundbreaking study will change the way brain tumor patients are diagnosed.

Winship cancer researcher and neuropathologist Dan Brat is the first author of a groundbreaking study that will change the way patients with diffuse gliomas, a form of brain tumor, will be diagnosed and treated in the future.

Brat and 306 other researchers from 44 institutions studied a group of six related brain tumors that has been surrounded by diagnostic confusion for decades. They used a large number of advanced molecular platforms capable of examining the genetic make-up of brain tumors (e.g. mutations, gene deletions, and other genetic changes) and were able to determine that there are three well-defined types of tumors based on this analysis, rather than six as previously thought.

Brat explains, “The use of the biomarkers in the diagnosis of these forms of brain tumors will lead to a much more consistent manner of diagnosis and patient management. It will also allow us to investigate these tumors as unified groups in a way that should advance our understanding.”

Brat will join an international group of neuropathologists in Heidelberg, Germany, meeting this summer to revise the World Health Organization classification of brain tumors based on new molecular findings. This is a major step in starting to classify and treat brain tumors more precisely based on their genetic makeup.

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Eric Berry credits Emory nurse as the “real MVP” of his treatment


When Eric Berry first learned he had a type of blood cancer known as Hodgkin lymphoma, the Kansas City Chiefs football player returned to his home and family in Georgia and sought treatment at Winship Cancer Institute. Berry became a patient of Dr. Christopher R. Flowers, a Winship hematologist specializing in lymphoma and director of the Emory Lymphoma Program, and started regular chemotherapy treatments at Winship that lasted for several months. During that time, nurse Stephanie Jones took care of Berry and got to know both him and his family. It turned out that nurse Stephanie made quite a lasting impression on Berry. At the end of July, he returned to Kansas City to resume practices with his team and during his first press conference, he gave a shout-out to Jones and credited her as being the “real MVP” of his treatment. Jones says she’s proud of the honor and admiring of Berry’s determination to beat the cancer. Winship is fortunate to have a dedicated oncology nursing staff that demonstrates patient- and family-centered commitment, care and collaboration. All Winship nurses are specially trained to administer complicated chemotherapy regimens and implement steps for symptom management. As Stephanie shows, our Winship compassion is what is remembered.

See Eric Berry and Stephanie’s story on KCTV-TV Kansas City.

Learn more about Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

New Director of Community Oncology at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital

szasboEmory Saint Joseph’s Hospital welcomes Stephen Szabo, MD as the new Director of Community Oncology at the hospital’s Winship Cancer Institute. The new program combines the best aspects of community and academic oncology by providing seamless patient care within one medical system.

“This is a powerful model of care,” says Szabo. “Our patients have the advantage of receiving state-of-the-art treatment right in their own community with the resources of a nationally recognized University system. This program provides great depth of care to our patients ranging from a compassionate team of nurses, nurse practitioners and social workers to the technical expertise of very specialized physicians.”

The community oncology program at Emory Saint Joseph’s treats patients with a variety of cancers with a team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and array of surgical specialists. The oncology program offers infusion services, radiation oncology, Gamma Knife and interventional radiology services.

Winship is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the state of Georgia. “Our patients have access to the latest clinical trials and research in cancer care, and they benefit directly from the basic science research being conducted at the University. This truly is unique for a community oncology program,” Szabo says.

Szabo received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University and his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and his fellowship in hematology and oncology at Emory University, Winship Cancer Center. Szabo has been practicing hematology and oncology for the past 15 years.

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Winship Cancer Institute Expands Hospital Access

winship expands sign picWinship Cancer Institute has expanded access to its high quality cancer care in alignment with its broad clinical research program at both Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital (ESJH) and Emory Johns Creek Hospital (EJCH). In addition, Winship has established the Winship Cancer Network as a means to improve access to such vital services throughout Georgia and the Southeast.

Longstanding and continued support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has enabled Winship to advance cancer care and access to services like these for tens of thousands of patients throughout Georgia and beyond.

In addition to expanding services at ESJH and EJCH, the Woodruff Foundation’s most recent grant will be used to expand and improve Winship’s Shared Resource portfolio with special emphasis on its Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program. Researchers in this program are continually evaluating the best methods to reduce and eliminate the development of cancer among high-risk individuals across Georgia and the Southeast.

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Why Winship?

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University“For every question that we answer or seek to answer, new questions arise.”

Winship’s executive director, Wally Curran , MD, said that in answer to an interview question about Winship, and I think it provides insight on the incremental way that progress is made against cancer.

It also helps describe the dedication of cancer doctors and researchers who are willing to keep pursuing answers to this vastly complex puzzle.

The communications team at Winship has been asking another type of question lately: “Why Winship?” The answers we got are now the basis of a website, social media and poster campaign highlighting stories that show how our doctors, researchers and healthcare staff make discoveries and translate the latest breakthroughs in cancer research into better treatments for patients.

The stories are told through the words and thoughts of people who have been treated at Winship, and through the Winship staff who work toward finding ever-better ways to defeat cancer.

Our first round of “Why Winship?” videos, now on our website, features a group of Winship physicians who represent the comprehensive spectrum of patient care we are able to offer, from the latest drug and radiation therapies, to innovative surgical techniques. Here is a sampling of their thoughts on what makes Winship a unique place for them.

“Winship is about depth and breadth. It’s the depth and breadth of our team that approaches a cancer problem. For example, in lung cancer, we have depth and breadth in the surgical, pulmonary, oncology, scientific, and epidemiologic teams which confront the leading cancer killer. Without the depth and breadth, we could not make the progress for a given patient and we also could not make the progress for a given problem as complex as lung cancer.”

“I think there is a spirit of humility and genuine discovery that suffuses the place. People want to know not just why, but why didn’t a treatment work, why didn’t a patient benefit, and go back to understand from every specific patient encounter how we can do better and more importantly how we can help them to do better.”

“With that team effort, [you’re] getting the best technology, multi-modality therapy with what we call translational research and the up-to-date protocols and everything in one place. Rather than having to hunt around to get the best in each thing you have it right here. An example is our sarcoma conference. There’s a thoracic surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, everyone is right there at the same time talking about the patient…. you have the best of everything right there.”

Winship Radiation Oncologist
“I know that I am going to be supported to go in the direction I think is most cutting edge that is the best for my patients… You have to have an administration that has a long-term vision of that. You don’t see that commonly and we have that at Winship Cancer Institute.”

Winship Urologist
“What gets me really excited about working at Winship is I have the ability to have incredible collaborative efforts that take place every day, and I particularly point out my colleagues in surgery, be it thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, surgical oncology. We work well together because we truly believe that the sum is greater than the individual. It allows us to do operations that I only dreamed of doing when I was in training, and we do it better here at Winship than anywhere else.”

About Catherine Williams

catherine-williams-2014As Senior Communications Manager for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Catherine Williams creates print, video and electronic communications materials and serves as a media relations contact for consumer health, news and science media.

Catherine came to Winship after 30 years as a television producer in New York, Washington and Atlanta, producing news, magazine and documentary programming. She has won awards for special reports covering health/science, public affairs and entertainment. She says news was exciting but nothing compares to the satisfaction of working with the dedicated and inspiring staff of Winship.

A Look Back at Winship Cancer Institute’s Extraordinary 2014

Since 1937, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has provided cancer patients throughout Georgia, the Southeast and beyond, with outstanding patient care and research, and 2014 was no exception. From several national recognitions to record-setting fundraising goals, Winship at Emory continues to be among the leaders in the state of Georgia and the nation in finding ways to defeat cancer. While we enter 2015 with excitement and expectancy, the administrators, physicians and researchers of Winship at Emory have taken time to celebrate the remarkable last year. Click on the “Year in Review” video below to see some of Winship’s highlights from 2014, including:

Key 2014 milestones:

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked cancer care at Emory University Hospital through Winship among the 25 best in the country.
  • Nurses at Emory University Hospital and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital were honored with the prestigious Magnet award for excellence in patient care.
  • Winship was the only cancer center in Georgia named as one of 30 U.S. cancer centers for the new National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network.
  • Winship exceeded its fundraising goal for the Win the Fight 5K in September, bringing in more than $600,000 for cancer research.

Winship 2014

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Progress and Thanks for Five Years of Phase I Clinical Trials

Phase I AnniversaryPatients.

Clinical trials.

We cannot have one without the other.

The Phase I Clinical Trials Unit at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University opened in 2009, a time when a significant expansion of clinical trial efforts was underway to support the National Cancer Institute cancer center designation. Over this rapid five-year period, a truly collaborative culture has led to a cutting-edge, early drug development program at a nationally recognized, top 25 cancer center.

None of this has been possible without patients putting their trust in our physicians, nurses, scientists, and many others, to deliver optimal care while asking critical questions about novel drugs and approaches. When I think about the impact of our Phase I unit on patients and their families, I recall a recent conversation with a seasoned oncologist here at Emory. He said, “Donald, if I saw anyone in the chairs here at a store, I wouldn’t know they had cancer.” A simple statement, but one that conveys a number of key messages about how our phase I trials have evolved over five years. Drugs we now have at hand, as a whole, are much safer and better tolerated than conventional chemotherapy. We also have access to more agents with much better activity against cancer, leading to more treatment options.

With improved treatment comes a sense of satisfaction. However, we cannot over-emphasize the critical effect patients have on us as health care providers, researchers, and human beings. As a clinician-researcher, the greatest motivating factor I have is seeing patients do well on trials and coming to visits to talk about trips, family gatherings, important personal events, and the role that treatment on a trial had in helping them live their lives.

For this, we say thank you to our patients and their families for their trust and the courage they show on a daily basis. You keep up your fight, and we will keep up ours.

About Dr. Harvey

R. Donald Harvey, FCCP, BCOPR. Donald Harvey, PharmD, FCCP BCOP is director of the Winship Cancer Institute’s Phase I Clinical Trials section, and Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and a board certified oncology pharmacist. Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Harvey’s research interests include the clinical application of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenomic data to patient care.

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Winship Named a Top Ranked Cancer Program in the U.S.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityWinship Cancer Institute of Emory University has been named as one of the top 25 best cancer center programs in the nation according to the latest U.S. News & World Report. The annual list ranks cancer care at Emory University Hospital, through Winship, the 24th best in the country, a 20-position jump from 2013.

When Winship Cancer Institute opened its doors in 1937, the mission was to create a facility that would bring researchers and physicians together under one roof so no Georgian would have a reason to leave the state to receive cancer care. Today, Winship sees over 14,000 patients a year who travel from all over the world seeking progressive cancer treatment and integrated, specialized patient-and family-centered care.

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Georgia, Winship joins an elite group of cancer centers offering access to multidisciplinary cancer care and a wide variety of clinical trials often not available elsewhere.

“We are so proud to be named one of the best cancer centers in the U.S.,” says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship. “The top ranking is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our outstanding physicians, nurses and other caregivers.”

Winship is the only cancer program in Georgia to be named in the top 50 in the country. Click here for more information about the rankings and make sure to check out where all our Emory hospitals landed on the rankings!

Winship Cancer Institute Launches New Ad

As you’re watching the Winter Olympics this month, keep an eye out for a new television ad spotlighting the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. The 60-second commercial depicts aging fighter jets as a metaphor for outdated cancer treatment. In contrast, Winship offers state-of-the-art care to tens of thousands of cancer patients every year.

As Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center, Winship serves the citizens of the Southeast by working tirelessly to prevent, treat and cure cancer. Patients are offered integrative, multi-disciplinary care that they could not receive anywhere else in the state. The ad notes that over the past seven years, Winship has led or participated in clinical trials for over 75-percent of new FDA-approved cancer treatments.

Last fall, Emory Healthcare began running a series of ads that look at what’s impacting the health care industry today and speaks to the way in which our dedicated teams provide care that includes the whole family. The tag line, “We’re all in this together,” is exemplified daily throughout Winship and the greater Emory Healthcare Network. The compassion and dedication of the doctors, nurses and supportive care teams are unmatched as we strive to meet the unique needs of every patient and family who seek care in one of our facilities. Through the discoveries made possible by a dedicated team of many of the nation’s best physicians and researchers, Winship at Emory is working toward a future when science triumphs over cancer.

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