September 2019

We begin this new academic year with a major deadline: the submission of our National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant, which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 25. With just days left to go, I’m both grateful for and humbled by the collaborative spirit and sincere dedication to the advancement of our research efforts that we have here on the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center team. As I’ve previously noted, our core grant submission represents more than a year’s worth of work and preparation, and your efforts are sincerely appreciated. Our site visit will take place on Thursday, January 23, 2020, and I look forward to sharing more information with you as it becomes available.

Do you order Molecular/genomic/transcriptomic testing through Foundation Medicine, TEMPUS, CARIS, or internally through Pathology or the UPMC Genome Center?

As part of our NCI mandate, we have started a new initiative to enroll every patient undergoing SOC molecular/genomic/transcriptomic testing under the new HCC 18-177 protocol that allows our investigators to follow these patients for clinical progression, treatment decisions, and outcomes analysis.

You also have the option to obtain biological specimens for other biomarker analyses. By integrating various data analytics platforms across the cancer center, our goal is to make this new resource available to all Hillman investigators to advance our clinical and research mission.

Please contact any CRS coordinator to enroll your oncology patients who have already had or are going to get molecular/genomic/transcriptomic testing (retrospective and prospective). The 18-177 protocol is available through this link: 18-177.

This is a joint effort of all HCC investigators, under my direction, in preparation for the CCSG core grant renewal, to guide and improve oncology treatment practices and contribute to advancing preclinical and clinical cancer research at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

Please use 18-177 for all genomic analyses.

Upcoming Events

The 2019 UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Gala, themed “Illuminated by Hope,” will take place next Thursday, Sept. 12 at PPG Paints Arena, and I’m proud to share that Dario A. Vignali, PhD, will receive the PNC Elsie Hillman Distinguished Scholar Award in recognition of his achievements in and dedication to cancer immunology research. As you know, the gala raises crucial funds for our research efforts, and we’re grateful to our donors for their ongoing support. Those in attendance will also get to hear from two students from the 2019 Hillman Academy as they discuss their experiences in one of the evening’s videos.

More than 20 Hillman faculty will present at the 2019 ASTRO Annual Meeting in Chicago Sept. 14-18. View our full list of presenters; some highlights include:

  • Sushil Beriwal, MD, will lead a panel discussion on clinical cases in gynecologic oncology on Saturday, Sept. 14, including an examination of endometrial cancer management in the era of sentinel node biopsy.
  • John Austin Vargo, IV, MD, will present Consolidation Radiotherapy Following PET Complete Response in Early-Stage Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: A Meta Analysis on Monday, Sept. 16.
  • On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Joel S. Greenberger, MD, will moderate the ASTRO/NCI Diversity Symposium Pathways for Recruiting and Retaining Women and Under-represented Minority Clinicians and Physician Scientists Into the Radiation Oncology Workforce. Dr. Greenberger will also present 178 – R-BEL Mitigates Total Body Irradiation By Inhibiting iPLA2? Which Prevents Lipid Mediator Generation in the Ileum on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
  • Also on Wednesday, Sept. 18, Heath D. Skinner, MD, PhD, will moderate Head and Neck 3: Breakthroughs in Head and Neck Cancer.

Additionally, I hope you’ll join Dr. Greenberger, Dr. Sushil Beriwal, and me on Sunday, Sept. 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Level 33 at the Marriott Marquis Chicago for our annual reception. RSVP here.

Toni Wozniak, MD, is chairing an OncLive State of the Science SummitTM on the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center. Presenters will include Hossein Borghaei, DO, MS, chief of the Division of Thoracic Medical Oncology, professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology, and co-director of the Immune Monitoring Facility Fox Chase Cancer Center, as well as Hillman faculty members Tim Burns, MD, PhD, Jim Herman, MD, and Liza Villaruz, MD.

I hope to see you at our events this fall and wish you all the best for a productive and enlightening academic year.


Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD