Cancer Currents for May 2013

News and Notes from the Director
Photo: Mark Israel, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Cancer is a humbling process, one that affects the body in profound and existential ways. It also challenges the spirit, and the sense of wellbeing that is integral to feeling secure.

While cancer patients look to all their caregivers to address issues related to their wellbeing, nurses are usually involved in a patient's care over the entire course of their illness and are key in addressing the emotional challenges that cancer patients face. They take on aspects of cancer care that go far beyond actual medical issues, serving as a sounding board for personal challenges or marital and family issues, while working to deliver care, relieve pain, and minimize symptoms.

To respond to the many roles nurses play in cancer care, the Cancer Center recently added clinic nurse positions to our outpatient oncology nursing staff. This newly created clinic role allows us to streamline the treatment process while offering patients a personal, in-clinic contact to coordinate all aspects of their care.

When scheduling an appointment a patient now speaks with the clinic nurses on the phone and then meets with them on each subsequent treatment visit. Working in the clinic with providers, these experienced oncology nurses help with emotional issues, answer questions or address issues regarding medications, assist with insurance paperwork, and coordinate care with outside providers if needed. With this new system the treatment process flows more smoothly, and patients have a guide to help them through the logistical and emotional challenges of their cancer care.

May is Oncology Nursing Month. Norris Cotton Cancer Center employs more than 230 oncology nurses in our Lebanon, St. Johnsbury, Nashua, Manchester, and Claremont locations. While we seek to celebrate every day the integral and critical role of nurses, it's especially important to step back this month to reflect on how we can more effectively support nurses in the critical work they do.

Mark Israel, Director

Work on New Williamson Translational Research Building Starts

Williamson Translational Research Building DHMC

Site work preparation for the new Williamson Translational Research Building will be starting soon in front of the glass corridor that leads from the main rotunda to the Borwell Building, and construction work is expected to be fully underway as the summer months begin.

Construction plans include the new 165,000-square-foot medical research building and changes to the Medical Center's parking lots. Access to the glass corridor in front of this area will be interrupted at times during construction. Specific information will be provided as construction and life safety plans are developed.

The Williamson Building is named in honor of the late Peter Williamson, MD (former Director of DHMC's Epilepsy Center) and his wife Susan for their extraordinary generosity to the Medical School and Medical Center. Five of the six floors of the new building will provide space for Geisel related activity, including research teams, such as cancer care, neuroscience, and immunology. The D-H Clinical Pathology Department will occupy one of the six floors, giving critical space for our lab and testing operations. This new space will allow greater integration and collaboration between Geisel researchers and D-H clinicians, so that research findings can move more quickly and efficiently to actual patient care practice.

Fisher Appointed Director of TDI

The Geisel School of Medicine has named Elliott S. Fisher, MD, MPH, director of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI). Fisher has served as TDI's interim director for the past 15 months. During that time, TDI has continued to be a leading catalyst for improving health care delivery and contributing to the development of a sustainable health care system (read more). 

Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky to Join University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky, chair of the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the Geisel School of Medicine, is leaving Dartmouth to join the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as provost and executive vice president. He will continue as chair at the medical school until June.

"As chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Ethan has built a respected and successful program that has contributed much to our world's understanding of cancer and how we can lessen the burden of this disease," Geisel Dean Wiley Souba wrote in an email announcing the news to staff. "Ethan is a quiet, extremely effective leader who has held true to his core values centered around collegiality, community, and public service. We've seen this in his leadership as chair and as interim medical school dean at Geisel, and in his work as an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor. Please join me in thanking Ethan for his transformational service to Dartmouth and wishing him the best of luck in his new endeavors at MD Anderson."

Alexander Awarded $10k Melanoma Research Grant

David Mullins, PhD (left); Matt Alexander (center); and NCCC director Mark Israel, MD. Also presenting the Award is William R. Green, Ph.D. (far right), Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the Center for Biomedical Research Excellence in Immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine.

Matthew P. Alexander, a PhD student in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Geisel School of Medicine and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, has received one of ten nationally competitive Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF) Research Scholar Awards (RSA).The $10,000 RSA grants support exceptional graduate student melanoma research and also provides distinction to lab directors, universities, and cancer research institutions across the U.S.

"Matt is an outstanding student, and his work will help to create a new combinatorial therapy for melanoma," said Alexander's mentor, Dr. David W. Mullins. "Matt's studies suggest that we can combine currently-available drugs and vaccines in a novel way that will significantly improve the outcomes for patients, and we will work with clinicians at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center to translate these studies into new clinical trials."

The EPR Center Celebrates with Open House May 7, 2013

New EPR Center

The Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Center for the Study of Viable Systems will hold an open house from 4:30 to 7 pm on May 7, 2013, to celebrate their new building and new associate director of Oximetry Studies, Dr. Periannan (Kuppu) Kuppusamy.

The newly renovated 20,000 square foot building at 48 Lafayette Street (Centerra Park), provides expanded research and office space: about 2,700 square feet will be used by researchers with similar or complimentary interests (read more about the EPR Center).

Visitors can enjoy light refreshments and informal tours of the new facility, and a special exhibit of work by local artist, Corky Wennberg. Two permanent pieces by Dr. Suess (a children's book about teeth that he illustrated, and an anti-nuclear war print) will also be displayed.

EPR researchers are always collecting nail clippings and measuring teeth: Participants are always needed for a fast and easy test run of an EPR dosimetry system invented by radiologist Harold Swartz, MD, PhD, MSPH. His system uses 'biodosimeters' everyone always carries (their teeth and fingernails) to determine if they were exposed to radiation.

The current focus of Swartz's EPR research is to help in situations, such as nuclear accidents or terrorist bombs involving radiation, where many people suddenly need to know if they received unexpected exposure to radiation to decide if treatment is needed. There is an ongoing need for healthy (non-irradiated) volunteers to participate in EPR screenings. The EPR Center now has testing rooms at DHMC or in their new building at 48 Lafayette (in Centerra Center). Call 603-359.6478 or email or go to for more info.

Norris Cotton Cancer Center Keene Receives ASCO Recognition

Members of the NCCC Keene Kingsbury Pavilion team ( r.): Erin Lynch, Jill Winslow, Sarah Whicker, Carol Huntley-Smith, Heather Boyd, Steve Larmon, Tanya LeBlanc, Angie Rounds, Beverly Griffin, Jennifer Michelson, Marla Evans, Hannah Dunn, and James Nickerson (NCCC Keene is sending photo)

Norris Cotton Cancer Center Keene has been recognized by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) Certification Program, an affiliate of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). This certification program for outpatient oncology practices is the first program of its kind for oncology in the United States. Oncologists achieve certification by demonstrating practice consistent with the highest standards of care. The QCP seal designates practices that not only scored high on the key QOPI quality measures, but also meet rigorous safety measures established by ASCO and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).

QOPI analyzes individual practice data and compares these to more than 100 evidence-based and consensus quality measures. The information is then reported to participating practices, and individual practices are able to compare their performance to others across the country. Based on this feedback, doctors and practices can identify areas for improvement.

Gerlach Featured in NHCCC Partner Profile

The New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration (NHCCC) has featured NCCC Associate Director for Administration and Scientific Affairs Robert Gerlach as a partner profile. He has served on the NHCCC board since 2011 (read the full profile on their website).

The NHCCC is a partnership of individuals and organizations working together to eliminate cancer, a leading cause of death in the state. The NHCCC developed the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan, 2010-2014 to address the following priorities:

  • Prevent cancer by creating environments that support a healthy lifestyle
  • Increase early detection and prevention of cancer through screening
  • Improve the treatment of cancer and quality of life for people living with cancer
  • Report on the latest cancer research.
New Staff

Periannan Kuppusamy, PhD, MD (honoris causa), DLitt, has joined the EPR Center as associate director of Oximetry Studies at the EPR Center. Dr. Kuppusamy came to Dartmouth from Ohio State University, where he was a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, held the William D. and Jacquelyn L. Wells Chair in Imaging Research, and served as the associate director (for research) of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. His research interests include oxygen and redox biology in cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and he is well-known for his expertise in the development of imaging methods for imaging oxygen and free radicals in biological systems.

Li Wang, PhD, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Geisel School of Medicine, has joined the Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy Research Program.

Cody Paiva, will join Dr. Alexey Danilov's lab as a research assistant on May 20, 2013.

Ellen Johnson has joined the NCCC IT Team as a senior programmer/analyst. She comes to NCCC from the MIT Lincoln Lab, where she was a member of the associate technical staff.

Positive Results for March 2013 NCI Audits

March 2013 was the month for NCI cooperative group audits: the ALLIANCE and CTSU audits were held March 11 and 12, ACOSOG audit was held March 11, and RTOG audit was held March 18 and 19. Nan Rollings, administrative director of the Office of Clinical Research, reports that by April 12, 2013, all results had been received:

  • ALLIANCE/CTSU audits: passed for Lebanon, Manchester, and St. Joseph's (Nashua)
  • ACOSOG audit: passed
  • RTOG audit: passed

All passed with re-audit recommended for 36 months (the longest period of time allowed between audits). Positive comments about data and protocol management were received from the auditors.

For the first time, OCR implemented a peer monitoring project with clinical research coordinators reviewing cooperative group data (separate from their assigned disease team) to ensure compliance with protocol requirements. This project is part of a larger initiative to monitor all cooperative group data within a short period of time after enrollment to a clinical trial to ensure data is being collected accurately and in a timely manner.

New eD-H Tools Illustrate New Process for Clinical Informatics

Two critical clinical tools in eD-H, the anesthesia intra-op module and the chemotherapy ordering tool (Beacon), have been "turned on" after many months and thousands of person-hours of preparation. The Clinical Systems team built the modules hand-in-hand with local champions from the involved departments to insure the design was right, and trained the same way. The Office of Clinical Informatics notes that they will be using this process for other new projects

Computer Security Changes

In an effort to comply with the new DISC security controls we have implemented two recommended changes have been implemented:

  • The username field in your Windows logon screens will now be blank. Previously this would have contained the last username used to log on to a machine. This means you will have to type in your username each time you log on.
  • A "banner text" feature informs anyone trying to access NCCC machines that "Unauthorized access is strictly prohibited"
    If you have any questions please feel free to contact
First Issue of Research Counts Mailed

The first issue of Research Counts, a new quarterly newsletter highlighting NCCC research activities and clinical trials, was mailed to 5,265 regional providers and cancer center directors in April. The newsletter includes referring provider profiles, information about NCCC research, articles on recent findings, and dates for Grand Rounds presentations and other events. A special section lists current open trials and key contact information.

Dartmouth Outdoor Rentals

Dartmouth Outdoor Rentals is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the basement of Robinson Hall. Rent camping gear, road bikes, and mountain bikes (local mountain bike trails are usually closed until mid-May). Stop by or contact at:; 603-646-1747

Gardening Classes in May and June

After Hours May and June gardening classes will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center in East Thetford, VT. Registration and prepayment required: $20/person/class; more info:

  • May 9 (Beginning Gardeners)
  • May 16 (Hanging Baskets & Mixed Containers)
  • May 30 (Vegetable Gardens)
  • June 4 (Dealing with Weeds & Bugs)
  • June 6 (Staking & Pruning)
After Hours Fisher Cats Baseball Bus Trip

Come cheer on the NH Fisher Cats from the 3rd Baseline Party Deck at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, NH on Sunday, May 5, 2013. Seating, buffet lunch at the game, and transportation are all included in the $45 fee.

There will be opportunities for raffle prizes on the bus ride down, as well as a chance to throw out the first pitch of the game, and the first 1,000 kids into the game get their very own Fisher Cats jersey. Registration and pre-payment required.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats vs. Reading Fightin Phils

Dates to note
Upcoming DH Town Hall Meetings May 8 and 23

The previously scheduled Town Hall Meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 8, from noon to 1 p.m., in auditoria E and F. This meeting will be a panel session on Value-Based Care and will feature Gregg Meyer, MD, executive vice president for Population Health and chief clinical officer; George Blike, MD, chief Quality and Value officer; Maria Padin, MD, medical director for D-H Concord; and Ethan Berke, director of Population Health Innovation.

The rescheduled Town Hall Meeting, from the cancelled March 28 meeting, will be held on Thursday, May 23, noon to 1 p.m., in auditoria E and F. Both meetings will be broadcast live. Questions can be submitted in advance or during both meetings by sending them to

NCI Research Funds Available for Provocative Questions

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is launching "The Provocative Questions Initiative" to find bold new approaches to answer 24 perplexing scientific questions identified by the community (see the list at ).

The initiative has assembled the list to stimulate NCI's research communities to use laboratory, clinical, and population sciences in especially effective and imaginative ways to answer the questions. Researchers are invited to apply for R01 and R21 grants in four thematic areas:

  • Cancer Prevention and Risk
  • Mechanisms of Tumor Development or Recurrence
  • Tumor Detection, Diagnosis, and Prognosis
  • Cancer Therapy and Outcomes
Save the Date! 2013 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting

The 2013 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, DC, September 29 - October 1. Information on the meeting, including the program and electronic registration, is available on the AACI website.

Grand Rounds

Norris Cotton Cancer Center typically holds Grand Rounds lectures on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Barbara E. Rubin Building at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Our Events for Cancer Professionals listing shows our upcoming lectures. Most lectures can also be viewed live online. In addition, you can view recorded webcasts, or listen to recorded podcasts.