Posts Tagged ‘winship cancer institute at emory university’

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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Landmark Multiple Myeloma Studies from Winship

In recognition of September being Blood Caner Awareness Month, Dr. Sagar Lonial, Winship’s Chief Medical Officer shares a video about his Winship phase III clinical trial study on elotuzumab in treating myeloma patients.

Many cancers have benefited from FDA approvals for monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Multiple myeloma, a second common blood cancer, had limited outcome improvements with mAbs until Dr. Lonial’s recent work. Dr. Lonial’s research was presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.

Learn more about Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

No Patient Left Behind: Tracking Cancer Disparities

Veronica Reynolds' multiple myeloma is now in remission. She says Dr. Leon Bernal-Mizrachi "walked with me every step of the way. He's a great spirit. It doesn't matter who you are, you will be treated the same way."

Veronica Reynolds’ multiple myeloma is now in remission. She says Dr. Leon Bernal-Mizrachi “walked with me every step of the way. He’s a great spirit. It doesn’t matter who you are, you will be treated the same way.”

Why are some individuals more likely to develop cancer or to develop a more aggressive form of cancer? Winship clinicians and researchers confront such disparities daily – and are working to understand and change them.

Genetic research is a key to understanding how either race or ethnicity affect the incidence of different cancers and how these factors may contribute to different responses to the same treatments. Multiple myeloma, a blood cancer of the immune system’s plasma cells, occurs two to three times more often in African Americans than in Caucasians. Finding out why could lead to better therapies for all. Winship researchers couldn’t do it without people like Veronica Reynolds.

In her mid-50s, the busy realtor developed severe pain. She asked herself if she had strained her back, driving back and forth showing houses or picking up grandchildren? She told herself it would go away. It got worse. One doctor told her she looked too well to hurt as much as she claimed. Another believed her but his pills barely helped. After two years, she feared her heart would stop from pain. At Grady Memorial Hospital, imaging revealed fractured bones, due to bone destruction. Other tests provided the multiple myeloma diagnosis – and led Reynolds to Dr. Leon Bernal-Mizrachi, a Winship hematologist/oncologist who sees patients at Grady.

Reynolds credits God for sending her to Bernal-Mizrachi and to Dr. Jonathan Kaufman, director of Winship’s ambulatory infusion center, who oversaw her stem cell transplant following high dose chemotherapy. She credits herself for following the complex treatment regimens. And she’s “ecstatic,” she adds, about being part of her doctors’ research. “I hope I have enough fight in me to live to see it help many people like me.”

Reynolds – and her genes – are part of a massive multi-institutional study to sequence the entire genome (more than three billion DNA base pairs) of 1,049 African Americans with multiple myeloma and another 7,084 without the disease. The Winship component, headed by Drs. Sagar Lonial, Bernal-Mizrachi, and Ajay Nooka, has gathered almost a third of the study’s participants, thanks to the researchers’ commitment and Georgia’s high African-American population. Although still in process, the study is already producing valuable insights. Winship physicians routinely take tissue cells from multiple myeloma patients, looking for genetic variants that indicate who is at higher risk of relapse. They hope this new study will help identify why this disease occurs more frequently among African Americans and determine if there are treatments that may be specific to these patients.

The incidence of multiple myeloma in the African-American community is just one of the cancer disparities that Winship researchers are aggressively investigating. This blog is excerpted from a more comprehensive magazine article about health disparity research at Winship which can be accessed at https://winshipcancer.emory.edu/magazine/issues/2015/summer/features/no_patient_left_behind/index.html.

President Obama Names Winship Member to National Cancer Advisory Board

deborag watkins brunerPresident Barack Obama recently appointed Emory University Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Nursing Deborah Watkins Bruner as one of five new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB).

“I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to serve our country. They bring their years of experience and expertise to this Administration, and I look forward to working with them,” said President Obama in a White House press release.

The NCAB and the President’s Cancer Panel are the only advisory bodies at either the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Health and Human Services whose members are appointed by the President. The primary task of the NCAB is to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and ultimately the President of the United States on a range of issues affecting the nation’s cancer program and, specifically, NCI operations. The NCAB reviews and recommends grants and cooperative agreements following technical and scientific peer review.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Bruner for her appointment to this presidential advisory board,” says Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “Dr. Bruner is one of the nation’s preeminent oncology researchers and we know she will play an important role in helping our nation advance cancer research and improve the quality of life of Americans with cancer.

Bruner has devoted her research to improving outcomes for cancer patients. Her areas of focus are quality of life and symptom management across cancer sites, as well as decision-making for cancer therapies. She also is internationally known for her research in sexuality after cancer therapy.

Bruner is also associate director of cancer outcomes research at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and professor of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. She is internationally recognized for her trailblazing leadership within the NCI-cancer clinical trials research network for scientifically measuring the cancer patient experience and incorporating that experience into improvements in care.

“Dr. Bruner’s contributions to Winship and to NRG Oncology have defined new methods of evaluating cancer clinical trials and patient outcomes,” says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute. “We are delighted that President Obama has recognized her abilities and the contributions she will make to the NCAB. The NCAB has significant influence in guiding the nation’s strategies against cancer, and Dr. Bruner will be an invaluable advisor to the President and other national leaders on our research policies.”

Bruner is best known for her pioneering leadership within the National Cancer Institute (NCI) supported NRG Oncology (formerly Radiation Therapy Oncology Group – RTOG). She is the first and only nurse to lead one of NCI’s national clinical community oncology programs (CCOP) research bases and is NRG’s Vice Chair for Outcomes. Bruner is a member of the NCI Clinical Trials Advisory Committee (CTAC) which helps set the national cancer clinical trials research agenda and co-chairs NCI’s Symptoms Management Steering Committee.

Bruner is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. In 2015, she received the Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award from the Oncology Nursing Society.

Bruner received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from West Chester University. She earned her master’s degrees in nursing oncology and administration from Widener University and a doctoral degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

RELATED RESOURCES:
Bio: Deborah Watkins Bruner
Cancer Research @ Emory Nursing
Winship Cancer Institute

What is Radiation Therapy and How is it Used to Treat Cancer?

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that is used to shrink tumors and stop the growth of cancer cells. High energy x-rays are aimed directly at cancerous cells or tumors. According to the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the technique is so effective in treating many different types of cancer that nearly two-thirds of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy at some time during the course of their cancer treatment.

Depending on the type of cancer being treated, radiation may be used as a stand-alone treatment and often it is the only treatment needed. Or, it may be used in combination with surgery, chemotherapy and/or other targeted therapies. For example, doctors may use radiation therapy to shrink a tumor before surgery, or after surgery to stop the growth of any cancer cells that may be left behind.

Watch the video below to learn about the types of radiation treatments available to patients at Winship Cancer Institute:

Visit the new mobile-friendly Emory Radiation Oncology website to learn more about treatments and services offered in the Department of Radiation Oncology and what to expect as a new patient.

About Dr. Godette

Karen Godette, MDKaren Godette, MD, is a board certified radiation oncologist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Godette practices general radiation oncology and specializes in breast and gynecological malignancies, prostate cancer and soft tissue sarcoma. Within these areas, her expertise is brachytherapy. Dr. Godette treats patients at Winship at Emory University Hospital Midtown where she has served as medical director since 2001.

Cancer Clinical Study Leads to Video Tool for Prostate Cancer Patients

At Emory, research plays a key role in the mission to serve our patients and their families. Medical advances and improvements to patient care have been made possible by research and volunteer participation in clinical trials. More than 1,000 clinical trials are offered at Emory, making a difference in people’s lives, today.

Recently, a clinical study initiated by Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, found that providing prostate cancer patients with a video-based education tool significantly improved their understanding of key terms necessary to making decisions about their treatment.

The breakthrough study was led by three Winship at Emory investigators; Viraj Master, MD, PhD, FACS; Ashesh Jani, MD; and Michael Goodman, MD, MPH; and is the feature cover story of this month’s Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

In 2013, Master, Jani and Goodman released an Emory study that showed that prostate cancer patients (treated at Grady Hospital in Atlanta) experienced a severe lack of understanding of prostate key terms. The original study showed only 15 percent of the patients understood the meaning of “incontinence”; less than a third understood “urinary function” and “bowel habits”; and fewer than 50 percent understood the word “impotence.”

In response to their findings, the three principle investigators jumped to find a solution to the problem. The latest study explored using a video-based tool to educate prostate cancer patients on key terminology. The physicians predicted that with a better understanding of terms linked to disease, patients would be able to participate in shared and informed decision-making throughout the prostate cancer treatment process.

About the Prostate Cancer Video Trial:

  • 56 male patients were recruited from two low-income safety net clinics and received a key term comprehension test before and after viewing the educational video.
  • The video software (viewed by participants on iPads) featured narrated animations depicting 26 terms that doctors and medical staff frequently use in talking with prostate cancer patients.
  • Learn more by watching this video:

clinical trials for prostate cancer

Results of the Prostate Cancer Video Trial:

Participants who viewed the educational video demonstrated statistically significant improvements in comprehension of prostate terminology. For instance, before viewing the application, 14 percent of the men understood “incontinence”; afterward, 50 percent of them demonstrated understanding of the term.

“This shows that video tools can help patients understand these critical prostate health terms in a meaningful way. The ultimate goal is to give patients a vocabulary toolkit to further enable them to make shared and informed decisions about their treatment options,” says Viraj Master. “Our next goal is to improve the tool further, and study this tool at different centers.”

Learn more about clinical trials at Emory >>

Find a clinical trial at Emory >>

 

Additional Information about the Prostate Cancer Trial:

The research for this study was made possible by a Winship Cancer Institute multi-investigator pilot grant and the contributions of faculty and students from Winship, the Rollins School of Public Health and the Emory School of Medicine.

This study was led by three Winship at Emory investigators: Viraj Master, MD, PhD, FACS, Winship urologist and director of clinical research in the Department of Urology at Emory University; Ashesh Jani, MD, professor of radiation oncology in the Emory School of Medicine; and Michael Goodman, MD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology with the Rollins School of Public Health.

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When Your Partner Fails You

Cancer Support(This blog was originally posted on Friday, February 20, 2015 on the WebMD website)

Along with the worries, sadness and frustrations of dealing with cancer, many patients experience the heartbreak of their loved one failing to support them. How could a life partner or spouse fail you during cancer? There are many ways, some more obvious than others.

Jan’s husband never came to any appointments, ever. He never learned about her diagnosis, her treatment plan, the side effects of the medicines or the recommendations for how she might improve her energy and strength. He blamed the lymphedema in her arm after her surgery on her “lazy lifestyle.” He told her that support groups were for “wimps” and even took some of her pain medicine for himself.

Sally’s partner came to every appointment – he would never let anyone else bring her. He kept a medical notebook with her test results and argued with every doctor about each treatment plan. He would not let her eat any ice cream or cookies because he thought the sugar would make her tumor grow, even though Sally was at a very healthy weight and ate a very balanced diet.

Gary’s girlfriend would never stop talking about herself. At appointments with the oncologist she would ask questions about breast cancer even though Gary had lymphoma. She repeatedly complained about Gary being at home instead of work, “having him around the house all day is making me crazy, I need my space!” She had no understanding of cancer fatigue: “he looks fine, no vomiting or fever – he should be able to do more!” In the past Gary had been able to participate in his girlfriend’s extremely busy social schedule, but after lymphoma, he asked his girlfriend about limiting their social time to just close friends. His girlfriend insisted on accepting every invitation, and started leaving Gary at home, alone.

Some spouses and partners don’t get it, but they want to, which is huge. If a loved one wants to do better, there is hope for the relationship. If you’re the partner — not the patient — in this scenario, and you’re wondering how to recover from your initial missteps, here’s what I would suggest: Start by setting aside time when there are not any children yelling or bills to be paid or dishes to be done. Begin with a question, “so how are things going for you?“ Wait for an answer. Listen. Then ask “Anything I can do to help?” Breathe, pause, listen. Maybe put your hand on your partner’s shoulder, gently, in order to emphasize you are listening. If you start getting yelled at for being late once 6 months ago, breathe deeply, and respond simply, “I am sorry I was late, but now I really want to help, and do better. Let’s keep talking, but no yelling please.” Make eye contact and smile.

Sally’s partner took the advice above, he set aside the time, took several deep breaths, and listened. He listened closely because he really did love her, and wanted to know how she was doing. He admitted that he had hoped to stop the cancer by controlling everything about her medical care and diet. Sally was able to explain she did appreciate the help with scheduling and tracking her medicines, but she did not want to be treated as an invalid or a small child. Sally’s partner was eventually able to become the partner she needed – a partner interested in caring for her but also respectful of her autonomy.

Gary spent a lot of time after cancer treatment thinking about what kind of life partner he wanted. Reflecting back over the years, he was able to see that his girlfriend had always been self-absorbed. Friday nights, she chose the restaurant; Sunday morning she picked the breakfast; and during the week she rarely asked how Gary was doing at work. Gary realized that he would rather be alone than in a relationship with someone who only cared about herself. “After everything I have been through, I deserve real love.”

Jan always knew that her husband drank too much, but she had hoped he would stop on his own. Through her cancer treatment Jan was terribly embarrassed that her husband was not at appointments. On the day Jan came home to tell her husband that the oncologist told her she was cancer free, he was passed out on the couch. Not being able to share the journey, or the joy in the recovery, pushed Jan to tell her husband that she wanted a divorce. When he realized Jan was actually planning to leave him, he knew he had to get sober. The addiction to alcohol had robbed Jan’s husband of the chance to be a support when his wife really needed him. The only hope for the marriage was for him to get completely sober, and with medical care, Jan’s husband finally stopped drinking. Once sober, he returned to being the kind of husband Jan remembered from when they were first married. He cooked pasta dinners, rubbed her feet in the evening, and actively listened when she talked about her health concerns and hope for the future.

We all hope that our partner will step up and be there for us if we need them, but sometimes they don’t support us as we’d hoped. There are a variety of reasons why a loved one may fail during cancer treatment, and the psychological work is to realize the failure is about their issues, not about you or your self worth. If there is genuine caring, and a real desire for a loving relationship, a couple may get through the challenge of cancer. And if not, there may be grieving process if the relationship fails, but there is great beauty in a cancer survivor taking steps to be in the healthiest, most loving relationship possible. After cancer, you deserve it.

About Dr. Baer

Wendy Baer, MDWendy Baer, MD, is medical director of psychiatric oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, with appointments in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences in the Emory School of Medicine, and the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship.

In her work at the Winship Cancer Institute, Dr. Baer helps patients and their families deal with the stress of receiving a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. As a psychiatrist, she has expertise in treating clinical depression and anxiety both with medications and with psychotherapy to help people manage emotions, behaviors, and relationships. The fundamental goal of Dr. Baer’s practice is to promote wellness and maximize patients’ quality of life as much as possible. She believes strongly in the team approach to patient care and collaborates regularly with the doctors, nurses, and social workers that make up a patient’s care team.

Dr. Baer attended medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors. From UNC she went to the University of Pennsylvania, where she completed her residency in psychiatry and served as the chief resident in her senior year. Prior to moving to Atlanta, Dr. Baer worked with patients dealing with cancer at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, WA.

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Plugging Cell Biology Into a Genomic World

(This blog was originally posted on January 15, 2014 on the American Association for Cancer Research website)

Personalized oncology epitomizes the concept of interdisciplinary research where pathologists, bioinformaticians, oncologists, and biologists work together to identify and ultimately target drivers of cancer. We gather at tables to collaborate across disciplines and try to speak the same language with the goals of advancing knowledge and helping patients. As a cancer cell biologist at the Winship Cancer Institute, I have been privileged to be a part of these conversations and to contribute to our efforts to understand tumor biology.

When most researchers talk about personalized (or precision) oncology, genomics is usually an important part of the conversation. Genomic technologies can yield tremendous amounts of information in a relatively unbiased and high-throughput manner. Cell biology, on the other hand, which has interested me for over 15 years, provides a powerful and focused approach to probe the behavior and function of cells, organelles, and proteins. Tremendous leaps have been made over the last two decades that have enhanced our ability to “see” biology due to the advent of technologies such as genetically encoded fluorescent proteins and new imaging modalities. In fact, the Nobel Prize has been awarded twice in the last decade to imaging-based technologies, most recently this past October to the inventors of super-resolution imaging.

Despite these differing approaches, cell biology and genomics are not mutually exclusive; cell (and molecular) biology data are routinely combined with genomic data as a means to validate results. But can cell biology and genomics be more than validation partners? Could a marriage between the focused spatial and temporal power of cell biology with the throughput of genomics create a “best of both worlds” scenario to enhance personalization of cancer treatment?

Watch Dr. Marcus’ TEDx Peachtree talk, “Every Cancer Is Personal.”

As we move into a world of single-cell genomics, we are beginning to unravel the importance of obtaining information from one cell, and consequently yielding tremendous insight into tumor biology, especially tumor heterogeneity and rare cell types. Several strong lines of evidence now suggest that it may be rare cell types, such as cancer stem cells, that are required for initiation and progression of cancer. The ability to develop new methods that can precisely select these rare cell types, perhaps even while the cells are alive using cellular imaging-based approaches, would allow these rare genomes to be extracted. Perhaps, down the road, approaches rooted in cell biology may help provide more temporal -omics where researchers can monitor changes in the transcriptome of single cells or groups of cells over time to understand single tumor cell evolution during initiation, progression, and treatment.

It is not that cell biology is so unique; rather, it is the concept of marrying two research approaches to create a scientific synergy. The advances that are made through interdisciplinary research in the laboratories will not only provide new insight into the biology of cancer but can ultimately impact patients through personalized oncology. The late Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just about connecting things.” We need to continue to connect things in the lab to create new opportunities in the clinic.

About Dr. Marcus


Adam Marcus, PhDAdam Marcus received his PhD in cell biology from Penn State University in 2002 and went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer pharmacology at Emory University. Dr. Marcus is an Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine and has developed his own laboratory at Winship Cancer Institute, which focuses on cell biology and pharmacology in lung and breast cancer. His laboratory studies how cancer cells invade and metastasize using a combination of molecular and imaging-based approaches. Marcus has been a member of the American Association for Cancer Research since 2003. You can follow him on Twitter at  @NotMadScientist.

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Every Cancer Is Personal

Every Cancer is Personal

As a cancer researcher, I’ve delivered plenty of lectures, but nothing compares with a talk I gave in October to an audience of 500 strangers. My TEDx address focused on how the treatment and diagnosis of cancer is becoming more personal. Scientists across the world are going all-in on determining the driving genetic changes for each individual cancer to better personalize treatment for each patient. In my talk, I tried to emphasize where hope lives for cancer treatment in the next 5-10 years based upon this approach and how my laboratory at the Winship Cancer Institute is contributing to this effort.

Although I went into the day looking to impact others, I never expected the event to have such an impact on me. There were a dozen speakers that day with talks ranging from robotics and mathematics to tap dancing and beatboxing. The day of mass-education concluded with an impromptu parade throughout the Buckhead theatre. Hundreds of adults dressed in business attire lined up and were parading, dancing, singing and beatboxing. People that barely knew each other enjoyed interacting and sharing ideas throughout the day with the primary purpose of learning. I was clearly not in the familiar lecture halls and laboratories at the Emory School of Medicine, but I felt right at home and was happy to share my passion and knowledge about a subject that impacts so many of us.

About Dr. Marcus

Adam Marcus, PhDAdam Marcus received his PhD in cell biology from Penn State University in 2002 and went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer pharmacology at Emory University. Dr. Marcus is an Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine and has developed his own laboratory which focuses on cell biology and pharmacology in lung and breast cancer. Dr. Marcus’ laboratory studies how cancer cells invade and metastasize using a combination of molecular and imaging-based approaches. For more information about Dr. Marcus and his outreach and research efforts, please use the related resources links below. You can also follow Dr. Marcus on Twitter at @NotMadScientist.

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