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Archive for June, 2013

UNMC partnerships strengthen T-cell study

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations

 

Over the 30 years of its the bone marrow/stem cell transplantation program, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, have forged strong partnerships with researchers around the world.

 

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Julie Vose, M.D. 

In one recent study, which shed new light on the treatment of T-cell lymphoma, these partnerships were critical.

“We don’t see a lot of cases of this rare kind of lymphoma, so our partnership with others around the world is one way everyone can share to advance our knowledge and help patients,” said Julie Vose, M.D., chief of the division of hematology/oncology. “T-cell lymphoma is more common in other parts of the world. It’s very important that we have the resources and expertise to be able to do these types of studies. There has not been adequate information on it.”

Dr. Vose, also a physician on staff at The Nebraska Medical Center, was involved in one international study that looked at 1,300 cases of T-cell lymphoma to identify which treatments were helpful and which ones weren’t
It produced surprising results.

“We were surprised to learn patients did so poorly on current treatments.”-Julie Vose, M.D.
 
“We found that our current treatments for T-cell aren’t very helpful and that we have to look for new treatments,” said Dr. Vose, the Neumann M. and Mildred E. Harris professor. “We were surprised to learn patients did so poorly on current treatments. We also found some new types of T-cell lymphoma from genetic information that previously hadn’t been described.”

As a result of the study, she said there will be changes in treatment.
“It’s important to tailor treatment since not all T-cell lymphomas are alike,” she said. “Some are aggressive, some slow growing. Some patients do better with certain combinations of therapies while others do better with other types of treatment. We need to understand why.”

In the past few years, Dr. Vose said two new drugs have been approved for T-cell lymphoma.

She said treatment of lymphomas have come a long way in 30 years, thanks to research. There are 50 different types of lymphoma.

“Physicians used to treat many lymphoma patients with the same treatments,” she said. “We didn’t understand that different types of lymphoma can benefit from different types of treatment. Now we know.”

 

Susan Swindells has great IDEAs for HIV/AIDS therapy

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations
 

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Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S. 

Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S., the Terry K. Watanabe chairwoman for HIV/AIDS Research and Care, and professor of internal medicine, was named the 2013 recipient of the University of Nebraska’s Innovation, Development and Engagement Award (IDEA).

Dr. Swindells is one of two recipients of the university-wide award that recognizes faculty members who have extended their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university in ways that have enriched the broader community.
Ever since she arrived at UNMC in 1991, Dr. Swindells has been the primary mover behind all the changes in HIV clinical care for adults and children, research and education at UNMC, said her nominator, Jennifer Larsen, M.D., UNMC’s vice chancellor for research. “Her leadership in clinical trials has brought national attention to the Nebraska AIDS Education and Training Center.”

Meet IDEA winner Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S.

Dr. Swindells is a tireless “cheerleader” for HIV/AIDS community awareness, including critical screening services and community education to combat stereotypes and discrimination, Dr. Larsen said.

‘Dr. Swindells has made HIV/AIDS care, education, research, and advocacy her mission.’ Jennifer Larsen, M.D.-UNMC vice chancellor for research
“Dr. Swindells has made HIV/AIDS care, education, research and advocacy her mission, almost 24-7,” she said. “She is a tireless advocate for those that sometimes have no voice. She is not hesitant to discuss the importance of sex education not only to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but hopefully reduce other sexually transmitted diseases, as well.”

Dr. Swindells’ commitment to helping underserved populations, improving AIDS education and training and providing compassionate care is known around the world, Dr. Larsen said.

Below, Dr. Swindells reveals more about the woman behind the research.

What motivates you in your clinical research?

The motivation for my research comes from my patients. When I started caring for patients with HIV disease more than 20 years ago, there were times when at least one patient died every week. Most of them were young people, and it was incredibly frustrating not to be able to keep them alive. Thankfully, this has changed dramatically and in the U.S. our current therapies have completely changed the course of HIV disease into a chronic manageable condition. There is still much to be done internationally though, and I am fortunate to be able to work with people in many different countries.

What is your life goal?

My goal is to keep going as long as I am enjoying myself and being useful, and then to get out of the way.

 

Celebrating 30 years of cancer treatment milestones

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations

 

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Members of the UNMC and Nebraska Medical Center’s transplant team. 

 

Breakthroughs for life.

 

It’s not just a slogan.

As UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center look back over 30 years since the first bone marrow transplant was performed here, the breakthroughs and achievements include:
The adult transplant program, founded by Kearney, Neb., native, James Armitage, M.D., performing its first bone marrow transplant on April 1, 1983.

The pioneering of stem cell transplantation in 1984 by Anne Kessinger, M.D., of Scribner, Neb. The therapy is now standard practice around the world.

The launch of the pediatric transplant program in 1987 by Peter Coccia, M.D.

An array of impactful clinical studies and drug trials.
 

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“We have an extraordinary team dedicated to improving cancer treatment and care.”
Julie Vose, M.D.
 

Since its inception, the program has performed 4,460 transplants in patients from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries – 4,043 transplants in adults and 417 in children. Most adults have sought the treatment for cancers of the blood; in particular, lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. Pediatric transplants normally are performed for patients with more aggressive diseases such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“We have an extraordinary team dedicated to improving cancer treatment and care. Their work has increased survival substantially in patients,” said Julie Vose, M.D., chief of the UNMC Division of Hematology/Oncology and the Neumann M. and Mildred E. Harris Professor. “Through the efforts of many, people now have access to some of the best cancer treatment in the world right here in Omaha.”
The medical center’s expansive cancer research program has been responsible for advancing knowledge and treatments, said Dr. Vose, who is a physician on staff at The Nebraska Medical Center. Researchers receive funding from a variety of sources, including the National Institutes of Health, and collaborate with some of the top cancer centers in the world such as MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Center and others.
“We learn through our encounters with patients and our clinical trials,” Dr. Vose said. “Our experience not only helps our current patients but also will help future patients five or 10 years down the road.”

With the construction of a comprehensive cancer center on campus scheduled for completion in 2016, the campus will add an outpatient clinic where patients can access all their cancer needs; a 98-lab research tower; and a hospital with up to 108 beds.

“We’re excited to take the next step to advance our work for better treatments and improve the quality of life for those with cancer,” Dr. Vose said.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center on the leading edge

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From left, Brian Hastings, Joe Graham, Susie Buffett, Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., and Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., mark the naming of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. 

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center will place Nebraska “at the leading edge of cancer care, research and education,” UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., said Friday.

Video: Press conference highlights

Dr. Maurer was speaking at a press conference highlighting the name of the new, $323 million center, the largest project ever at UNMC and a project Dr. Maurer and others have called “transformational.”

More information about the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center here.

The cancer center will be named for Fred and Pamela Buffett in recognition of a gift from Pamela Buffett, through her foundation, the Rebecca Susan Buffett Foundation, to the University of Nebraska Foundation. Pamela’s husband, Fred “Fritz” Buffett, died in 1997 after fighting kidney cancer.

See photos from the press conference here.

Dr. Maurer was joined at the event by Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center; Joe Graham, chief operating officer of The Nebraska Medical Center; Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation; and philanthropist Susie Buffett, representing Pam Buffett.
“Fritz fought a courageous cancer battle until the very end,” Susie Buffett said. “It is truly exceptional for Pamela to make this gift in his honor, for the benefit of potentially thousands upon thousands of cancer patients worldwide. These patients will benefit from the research advances that will be developed here, as well as the outstanding patient care that will be delivered.”

“This is a huge, huge honor for our family,” she told press conference attendees.

“Pam is so excited . . . and honored to be a part of this.”

Graham called the center project “a new day for cancer care and research,” not only for Nebraskans but throughout the country and the world.

The center will integrate state-of-the-art cancer research with state-of-the-art cancer care, Dr. Cowan said.

“It will allow us to recruit and retain the very best cancer researchers and clinicians in the country,” he added.

Read the full announcement here.

Already, public support totaling $90 million has been pledged toward the project by the state of Nebraska, the city of Omaha and Douglas County. Private donors also have shown great support for the cancer center project, said Mike Yanney, chairman of the UNMC committee of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s comprehensive fund-raising campaign, Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities.

“Pamela Buffett’s gift is extraordinary and reflects the tremendous support for this project,” Yanney said. “The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is another example of the tremendous public-private partnerships from which many worthwhile Nebraska projects have benefitted.”

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