SGO Issues Dec. 18, 2014
Legacy Society donor profile: Bruce Patsner, MD, JD
Third SGO Breast Certificate program begins at 21st Century Oncology
Nonavalent HPV vaccine adds new tool to eradicate cervical cancer
Attendees gain valuable insights at inaugural Early Career Summit
SGO welcomes 40 new members
Next SGO Issues Jan. 22
From gynecologic oncologist to law professor, the career trajectory of Bruce Patsner, MD, JD has never been a particularly orthodox one, so when Dr. Patsner made the decision to donate $125,000 to the Foundation for Gynecologic Oncology’s Legacy Society he wanted to encourage other unconventional thinkers to pursue their research goals.
“This Legacy Award is going to be structured towards providing seed money for young investigators who have research ideas that might be considered to be a little out of the box and which otherwise might have trouble securing funding,” explained Dr. Patsner.
Dr. Patsner said that he was inspired by fellow Legacy Society members James W. Orr, MD, FACOG, FACS, who wanted his donation to be used for endometrial cancer research; and Farr Nezhat, MD, FACOG, FACS, who focused his contribution on robotics surgery.
“When I was thinking of doing this I called Jimmy Orr to talk to him about it because I wanted to know what his thinking was behind it,” said Dr. Patsner, who noted that if there are areas that members want SGO to focus more attention on, such as underwriting research, mentoring, international work or end-of-life care, those are things that Legacy Society donors can designate as projects for their contribution.
“If people have an agenda–whether it’s in clinical research or bench research or international work or palliative medicine or whatever—this is a way for an individual member of the Society to really put their imprint on something,” said Dr. Patsner. “These awards are going to be around for a long time. Even if the money runs out in ten years, a decade is a long time. So the flexibility of an award like this makes it unique.”
A native New Yorker and product of New York City public schools, Dr. Patsner’s undergraduate work, medical school and residency took him to Massachusetts and Texas until he returned to New York for his gynecologic oncology fellowship at Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, NY. Dr. Patsner ran his successful private practice, New Jersey Gynecologic Oncology, from 1989 until he retired for orthopedic reasons in 2000.
Soon afterwards Dr. Patsner decided to reboot his career and attend law school at the UCalifornia Berkeley School and Harvard, graduating in 2003. He then worked at the FDA for three years, playing an instrumental role in the preparation of the Institute of Medicine Report on Prescription Drug Safety, and spent several years after that as a law professor, including a four-year stint at the University of Houston Law Center.
In 2009 Dr. Patsner accepted a position as an Associate Professor of Law and the Director of the Health Law Institute at Yonsei University School of Law in Seoul, South Korea, where he taught classes on international regulation of food and drug law, bioethics, and medical malpractice law. He also advised several governments in the Far East on regulatory matters relating to prescription drugs, medical devices, biotechnology, and monitoring of clinical trials.
Once he returned to the United States in 2012, Dr. Patsner worked for a biotech firm for a year. He currently sets aside time to make one or two medical missionary trips per year. His Health Volunteers Overseas trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, brought him back to his gynecologic oncology roots.
“The amazing thing about it was the patients got almost no pain medication after surgery because they really don’t have any narcotics,” he said. “We’d do these radical abdominal procedures on these people, they’d be sitting up the next day and they basically got Tylenol. I’d just be standing there thinking, ‘This isn’t possible.’ It always shakes you up a little bit, but that’s a good thing. The patients, and the physicians I worked with, were just incredible people.”
Whether it’s his work through medical missionary groups or his recent contribution to the Legacy Society, Dr. Patsner is a firm believer in giving something back to others.
“The SGO has been very, very, good to a large number of people in our specialty. And a lot of those people owe their success to this organization to no small degree,” he said. “Just like Dr. Orr, I thought it was time to start giving some back. I don’t think the inspiration for it was any more complicated than that.”
In October, 21st Century Oncology in Fort Myers, FL, became the third official training site for the SGO Breast Certificate program. The fellowship co-directors are David T. Rock, MD, and SGO past president James W. Orr, Jr., MD, FACOG, FACS. The first breast certificate fellow in the one-year program at this location is Samith Sandadi, MD.
“This is a fantastic multidisciplinary program that I am very excited to be part of from the beginning,” said Dr. Sandadi. “This fellowship will allow me and future fellows to provide true comprehensive cancer care to women.”
Dr. Orr explained that Dr. Sandadi and all subsequent fellows will be trained in breast disease, primarily related to surgery, and will also receive training in other important aspects of care, including diagnostic pathology, radiology, radiation therapy, medical oncology, genetics, and the psycho-social/psycho-sexual aspects of breast disease.
“We believe it serves women well to have an oncologist trained in breast disease—those who are already aware of women’s health issues, particularly the cancer issues,” said Dr. Orr. “It’s a win for women, and I think it’s a win for our Society because it increases our sphere of influence in the area of medicine and cancer care. It takes a multidisciplinary physician and places them in a perfect spot to really excel at breast care.”
In 2010, SGO instated a board-approved certificate program for all members who have trained specifically in breast disease. The program recognizes gynecologic oncologists who have met specific criteria based on current standards and comparable program metrics. Metrics and documentation are required in order to qualify for the certificate.
SGO has two other approved breast training sites, Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, RI, under the direction of Skip Granai, MD, FACOG, FACS, and Hope Women’s Cancer Centers in Asheville, NC, with David Hetzel, MD, FACOG, FACS. Fellows in all of the SGO Breast Certificate programs must complete all of the required criteria to obtain the certificate, including a specific case list and completion of all learning objectives.
“I think that we’re trying to improve women’s care, by building a critical nucleus of physicians who are trained in the care of breast disease so that the Society can move forward, and as we get that momentum it allows us to add other programs and improve the educational aspects of breast disease at our Society,” said Dr. Orr.
In a news release dated Dec. 10, the SGO stated that the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a nonavalent vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) represents another important step in the eradication of cervical cancer.
According to the press release, it is estimated that the seven “high-risk” HPV types found in the nonavalent vaccine can potentially prevent over 90 percent of cervical cancers and a similarly high number of other HPV-associated cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and some head and neck cancers.
“As the healthcare providers for women who suffer from cervical and lower genital tract cancers, members of the SGO have always been advocates for the primary prevention of cervical and other HPV-related cancers,” said SGO President Richard R. Barakat, MD. “Vaccination against HPV is a powerful way to eliminate these cancers.”
SGO reiterates its strong support for vaccination of adolescent girls and boys, including the routinely recommended age group of 11 to 12 year olds, the group in which these vaccines have been found to be most effective. Also, SGO recommends that women undergo cervical cancer screening as recommended by guidelines.
In 2014, the American Cancer Society estimated that 12,360 women would be diagnosed and 4,020 women would die from cervical cancer in the United States. “HPV vaccination should result in a significant decline in these numbers, but it is critical that physicians urge parents to take advantage of the rare opportunity to prevent cancer through a simple vaccine,” Dr. Barakat said.
Girls and boys already on a vaccine schedule should continue to get vaccinated.
On Dec. 12-13, SGO hosted its first SGO Early Career Educational Summit: Secrets to Success in Chicago, led by course co-directors Linda Duska, MD, and Amanda Nickles Fader, MD. Sixty-one residents, fellows and candidates attended this one-and-a-half day meeting to learn more about career paths in gynecologic oncology as well as the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
During the summit several attendees had the opportunity to present their research projects and receive feedback. Abstracts presented at the 2014 Early Career Educational Summit will be published in Gynecologic Oncology in early 2015.
Lauren Prescott, MD, fellow-in-training at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said she was grateful to her program director Michael Frumovitz, MD, for giving her and four of her co-fellows the opportunity to attend the Early Career Educational Summit.
“The Early Career Educational Summit was a highly valuable course with frank conversations about the merits and challenges of academia,” said Dr. Prescott. “I greatly appreciated the honest and practical advice from leaders in the field that ranged from career development to interpersonal relationships. This was an incredible opportunity for networking and collaboration.”
Jennifer Ducie, MD, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, described the Early Career Summit as a “thoughtful, well-orchestrated course,” and said she was impressed by Dr. Duska’s lead discussion on quality improvement research as well as a presentation by Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, MD, on projects she started that ultimately impacted patient care.
“As a fellow-in-training I felt that the course addressed many issues not covered during residency or fellowship, but are usually the burning questions left that many young, aspiring gyn/oncs have,” said Dr. Ducie. “Overall, this was a really powerful, helpful course for trainees and junior faculty that addressed issues pertinent to truly succeeding in our field. From talks about contract negotiation, finding a research niche, grantsmanship, and work-life balance, this course hit a whole variety of topics with truly constructive tips and tricks from outstanding leaders in our field.”
Jennifer Scalici, MD, an SGO candidate member from University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile, AL, said that she appreciated the “refreshing humility and self-awareness” of the course directors and faculty.
“I felt that the moderators were sincere, genuine, and incredibly honest when sharing their own paths, what they learned from their mistakes and where they found success—this is information that cannot be condensed into an hour-long PowerPoint presentation,” said Dr. Scalici. “I was given invaluable insight into the development of an academician imparted by faculty leaders in the field who have a genuine interest in laying the foundation for a strong future leadership.”
Since August, 40 applicants have joined the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. SGO welcomes the following new members:
New Full Members
David K. Gaffney, MD, PhD, FACR, Radiation Oncologist, University of Utah
Megan J. Difurio, MD, ABP, Pathologist, Moore Regional Hospital
New International Members
Gustavo Guitmann, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist, Brazil National Cancer Institute
Agnaldo Lopes da Silva Filho, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist, Federal University of Minas Gerais – Brazil
New Allied Members
Kathleen Cavanaugh, MSN, RN, Nurse Practitioner, UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center
Libbe Hassenfritz, PA-C, Physician Assistant, University of Chicago
Jan Maxson, CNP, Nurse Practitioner, University Hospitals Case Medical Center
Patricia S. Mellinger, APN, Nurse Practitioner, Cadence Health – Central DuPage Hospital
Jennifer Stedman, PA-C, Physician Assistant, Western Connecticut Health Network
New Fellow-in-Training Members
Emma Barber, MD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jonathan Black, MD, Yale University School of Medicine
Evelyn Cantillo, MD, Brown Woman & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island
Georgina Cheng, MD, PhD, University of Colorado
Tarra Evans, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Josephine Kim, MD, University of Chicago
Teresa Longoria, MD, University of California Irvine
Emily McClung, MD, University of South Florida
Abel Moron, MD, SUNY Downstate Brooklyn
Brian Orr, MD, University of Pittsburgh/Magee-Women’s Hospital
Emily Prendergast, MD, UCLA
Tanya Pulver, MD, University of Minnesota
Brook Schlappe, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Jolyn Sharpe Taylor, MD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Vasileios Sioulas, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Eric David Thomas, MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Andrew Wiechert, MD, Cleveland Clinic
New Resident/Student Members
Gary Altwerger, MD, Yale New Haven Hospital
Mitchell Clark, MD, Bridgeport Hospital Yale University
Tess Crouss, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine
Sarah Lee, MD, NYU School of Medicine
Jason Joseph Phillips, MD, Mercy Hospital St. Louis
Lisa Rauh, MD, Emory University School of Medicine
Andrea Smiens O’Shea, MD, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Celeste Straight, MD, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Sejal Tamakuwala, MD, Wayne State University / Detroit Medical Center
Tiffany Zigras, MBBS, Bridgeport Hospital Yale University
Taylor Turner, MD, Duke University Medical Center
Locke Uppendahl, MD, University of Kansas School of Medicine
Margaret Whitney, MD, Virginia Tech Carilion
Mikolaj Zaborowski, MD, Poznan University of Medical Sciences
SGO’s Chicago staff wishes all of our members Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year. In January we will begin sending regular updates with news and reminders about the Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, March 28-31. SGO Issues will be on hiatus until Jan. 22, 2015.