Connections - August 2013

Thu, 08/29/2013
Roswellness Connections
A Message from the President
Dr. Donald Trump

All Good Work Requires Self-Revelation

Sidney Lumet, the director of such fine films as “12 Angry Men” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” once said, “All good work requires self-revelation.” While making good on our commitments to the patients we serve may not seem similar to making a movie, there are commonalities, and Mr. Lumet’s quote definitely applies for us.

Our self-revelation comes when we examine our performance and outcomes we achieve and compare them with those of other high-performing organizations. Saying we’re good, or even great, is one thing; proving it is another.

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine published “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.” This seminal work called for a more accountable national healthcare system to meet the changing needs of an aging population, will have access to the most innovative (and expensive) technologies and drugs, and will demand a more active role in health decision-making. Organizations today have to demonstrate that they are:

  • Safe: avoiding injuries to patients as they deliver the care intended to help them
  • Effective: providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who may benefit, and not providing services to those who are unlikely to benefit
  • Patient-centered: ensuring that care is provided in a respectful way that values the individual patient’s needs and preferences
  • Timely: reducing the time a patient waits for an appointment and to see the doctor
  • Efficient: avoiding waste of resources such as time, equipment, supplies and ideas
  • Equitable: providing care that does not vary because of personal characteristics such as race, gender, geography or socioeconomic status

This all sounds so obvious, and yet these characteristics of high-quality care are difficult to measure. In fact, it’s difficult to get agreement on what the measures should be and how the data should be collected.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute is working with other top cancer centers to develop these measures and to convince the federal government and insurers to adopt them. We’re also voluntarily and transparently participating in several organizations that allow us to compare ourselves to other top healthcare organizations around the country. Through these comparisons, we learn where we excel, where we have opportunity for improvement and what to do to get even better outcomes for our patients.

RPCI voluntarily takes part in the Leapfrog Group Patient Safety Initiative and has been awarded that organization’s highest distinction for each of the last three years. In 2012, we committed to improving our surgical outcomes by joining the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), and this year we joined the University Hospital Consortium (UHN). Will we look perfect compared to the best hospitals in the country? No. We know we will continue to improve our outcomes as a product of this analysis and reflection, however; we will be better able to prove our value to our patients and the community.

Some healthcare providers make available only the data required by accrediting bodies, state and federal governments and insurers. The best organizations are leaders in identifying effective measures of cancer care and in building the databases and evidence that add to the accumulated “best practice” knowledge. At Roswell Park Cancer Institute, our culture drives us to go far beyond the quality reporting that is required. To be among the best of the best, we have to know where we are today, to continuously compare ourselves against others in the top tier and, for the benefit of those who come to us for care, deliver on our goals for improvement. We may not win an academy award as Sidney Lumet did, but, much more importantly, our patients will be safer, and their outcomes better while we work to ensure that cancer won’t win.

-Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP
President & CEO

Institute News

Institute Partnering with Pharmaceutical Giant on Diversity Initiative

This month, Eli Lilly and Co. and RPCI announced a unique new program to train minority investigators in oncology clinical research. Roswell Park’s Center for Drug Development and Clinical Trials is developing the three-day clinical research workshop in collaboration with Lilly. The training and mentoring program aims to reduce health disparities by increasing the representation of underserved populations in clinical research.

RPCI Moves Up on ‘Best Places to Work–Academia’ List

Roswell Park has once again placed highly on The Scientist’s annual “Best Places to Work in Academia” list, coming in at no. 15 — up from 16th in the U.S. and 20th in the world last year. The rankings are based on results of the magazine’s annual survey of full-time life scientists working in academia or noncommercial research institutions.

Dr. Odunsi Leading Ovarian Cancer Immunotherapy Study

Roswell Park’s Dr. Kunle Odunsi, Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of the Center for Immunotherapy, is leading a phase I/IIa clinical trial to assess a new approach to treating ovarian cancer. The clinical research study, conducted in collaboration with the biotechnology company Adaptimmune and the City of Hope cancer center, will test a therapy that involves treating patients with their own enhanced T cells.

Donor Dollars at Work

Exploring New Treatment Strategies for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women in the U.S. While treatment strategies have been developed for patients with hormone-receptor positive and HER2- positive breast cancers, treatment strategies for triple-negative breast cancers are lacking. Triple-negative breast cancers typically have poor outcomes that have improved only marginally in recent decades.

Andrei Bakin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Genetics at RPCI, and his team, have discovered a critical role of a certain protein, TAK1, in the growth of cancer cells, including triple-negative breast cancer cells. Recently, TAK1 has also been identified in colon, lung and pancreatic cancers. Blocking TAK1 chemically or genetically reduced tumor invasion and enhanced tumor cell death in response to certain drugs.

Donations to RPCI are helping Dr. Bakin and his team define signature genetic clues related to TAK1 dependency in breast cancer cells and the signatures of the genetic and chemical inhibitors of TAK1 to predict with accuracy responses to treatment and to design custom-tailored drugs with the greatest therapeutic benefit and outcome.
“Despite progress in cancer diagnostics and treatment, a significant proportion of breast cancer patients develop recurrent disease that progresses to the metastatic stage and become resistant to therapy,” said Dr. Bakin. “Thanks to donors, this study will facilitate the development of new treatments and, quite possibly, bring new hope to our patients with triple-negative breast cancers.”

Dr. Bakin joined the faculty of Roswell Park in 2003. To learn more about him, click here:
The Cancer Experts

Roswell Park faculty members regularly share their expertise with major national media outlets and oncology publications. Some recent examples:

Dr. Alex Adjei to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News: “Lots of things can uniquely affect how a drug works ... if you have a drug that you’re going to use in a population that is not homogeneous, it would make sense that when you’re testing the drug, you test it in a heterogeneous group.”

Dr. Mary Reid to The New York Times (on advantages of CT screening for patients at high risk for lung cancer: “Imagine looking at a plum versus the end of your pen. This kind of screening really shifts things to an earlier stage.”

Dr. Nestor Rigual to CancerNetwork: “Sentinel lymph node biopsy in most cases of oral cancer patients with clinically negative necks was adequate for pathologic staging (of) the lymph nodes.”

Sponsor Spotlight

Fox Run at Orchard Park

Fox Run at Orchard Park is a retirement community that was built in 2007 and is a place where seniors enjoy security and peace of mind within a community of caring people.

That philosophy of caring extends to RPCI. Fox Run has been a supporter of our Bosom Buddies Walk for several years. The walk takes place in beautiful East Aurora, NY, and raises funds for the WNY Breast Resource Center so that no one in our community has to cope with breast cancer alone.

The center is free and open to the public and connects patients and their families to support groups, wellness and exercise programs, cancer prevention programs, and genetic counseling and testing.  The center is staffed with counselors to help patients and their families understand complex medical information and procedures, and, more importantly, is a place where patients find hope while facing this disease.  

For the past two years, Fox Run has underwritten the Bosom Buddies Kick-Off event by donating space, food and drinks. The Bosom Buddies event and the breast cancer cause is especially close to Tripp Higgins, Director of Sales and Marketing at Fox Run. Tripp’s wife, Gyda, was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her third battle with the disease in 2009. Since then, Tripp and his two young sons have been dedicated to giving back and helping others whose lives have been touched by cancer. Tripp serves as a member of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Advisory Board and has been instrumental in growing the Bosom Buddies event.

“Being able to give back and be involved with the Bosom Buddies Walk and Roswell Park by supporting the Breast Resource Center is very meaningful,” Tripp said. “Making a difference in the lives of those effected by cancer…. giving them hope and useful information as they begin their journey is so very rewarding. I am humbled by the opportunity.”

The 2013 Bosom Buddies Walk takes place Saturday, September 14. To participate, visit
Events and Promotions

Bosom Buddies Walk

Register today for the Bosom Buddies Walk 2013 on Saturday, September 14. Choose from a 1.5, 3 or 5-mile walking course through East Aurora, one of Western New York's most historic and beautiful neighborhoods, and walk alongside friends, family and our honorary chair and WGRZ-TV reporter, Heather Ly.

All proceeds from the Bosom Buddies Walk stay in the community to support the WNY Breast Resource Center at Roswell Park. The center, which is free and open to the public, helps patients and families throughout Western New York navigate their cancer journey from diagnosis and treatment to survivorship

Sign up today at

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Roswell Park will offer free prostate cancer education and screenings to men ages 40 and older on Saturday, September 28, at the Cruisin’ for a Cure car show. Cruisin’ for a Cure will take place at Roswell Park, and screenings be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

High-risk men, including African Americans and those with a family history of the disease, are encouraged to attend. Pre-registration for the screening is highly encouraged by contacting 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724).

Click here to learn more about early detection and the importance of testing for Prostate Cancer.

Decoding Annie Parker  Special Screening

Come see a special screening of the new movie Decoding Annie Parker on September 26 and help raise funds for ovarian cancer research in WNY.

Decoding Annie Parker tells about the discovery of the BRCA 1 gene by Mary-Claire King, and Annie Parker, whose life intertwines with Mary-Claire King’s during Annie’s breast cancer treatment.

The film is holding charity screenings across the country, and the movie’s director, Steven Bernstein, who is originally from Buffalo, selected Buffalo and Roswell Park as a beneficiary of the charity screening funds.

The show will take place at the Dipson Theater in Amhers. To purchase tickets, please click here.

New Era “beLIeVE" Caps Still Available

There’s still time to grab an exclusive New Era “beLIeVE” cap! New Era, an international lifestyle brand, created the “beLIeVE” cap for Roswell Park as part of its commitment to help raise awareness and funds to find a cancer cure.

The cap is available in a stretch fit 39THIRTY, knit, adjustable and kids version. The caps can be purchased at New Era’s flagship store, located at 160 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, and the Roswell Park Gift Shop. Select styles can be purchased on the New Era website.

Proceeds from the sale of the caps will be donated to support the cutting-edge research and patient care programs at Roswell Park. Learn more about the “beLIeVE” collection here.
RPCI in the News

Men Drink Less When they Pay More for Cigarettes, Study Finds
Recorded Session Helps Patient Remember WIVB-TV Channel 4
Dr. Candace Johnson on AM Buffalo WKBW-TV Channel 7
Bears Skydive Into Arms of Sick Kids WIVB-TV Channel 4
Editorial: Strengthen Roswell Park The Buffalo News
New Space for Teens Living with Cancer at Roswell Park YNN-Rochester Your News Now

See more RPCI headlines at

You Should Know

Supplements Won’t Protect Against Prostate Cancer Recurrence

Taking soy supplements in an effort to reduce risk for having prostate cancer recur didn’t work out as hoped, according to findings recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the study, researchers randomly assigned 177 men who had undergone surgery to remove malignant prostates to one of two groups. One group drank a soy supplement beverage and the other group drank a placebo beverage, everyday for up to two years. Researchers found no statistically significant difference between the groups. Among the men who drank soy, 27 percent had their cancer recur; 30 percent of men in the placebo group had their cancer recur.

Prior research, however, suggests that people who eat soy regularly starting early in life may possibly have a reduced prostate cancer risk. “Dietary soy may be delivered much more appropriately than using a soy supplement,” said RPCI urologist James Mohler, MD, Associate Director and Senior Vice-President for Translational Research. RPCI is currently investigating dietary changes (more fruits and green leafy vegetables and less red meat) in men who have chosen active surveillance for low risk prostate cancer. The Men’s Eating and Living (MEAL) study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, Prostate Cancer Foundation and Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program, uses diet change rather than supplements, to alter the chance of disease progression. “Bottom line? Don't give up on dietary change to reduce your risk of being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer.”