Monthly Archives: November 2013

Working toward a fantasy cancer center

One of the most forward-thinking aspects of the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Program is the expectation that every cancer center have a yearly visit from an External Advisory Board (EAB).

These are not accreditation visits. They are purely advisory, which encourages the cancer center staff to be completely open and transparent about challenges and opportunities and brainstorm about how to build an ideal “fantasy cancer center.” For example, how can we support clinical cancer research when funding from the federal government only covers half the costs of government sponsored clinical trials? Or, how can you incorporate the great advances taking place in molecular diagnosis into patient care? Continue reading

Careful assessing is better than second-guessing

Several years ago, I made a “decision” that I needed to figure out a better way to make decisions.

We all struggle with decisions whether big or small. We all sometimes delay making difficult decisions, or revisit the decision once it is made again and again. For me, difficult decisions can vary from deciding what treatment to recommend for a cancer patient, to determining how best to structure a new cancer research program, to deciding whether I should attend yet another meeting. There are times when I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number, the potential consequences and the variety of decisions that need to be made, particularly if I put off the difficult ones and let them build up. Continue reading


On a recent trip out of town, I had a bit of a disagreement with my rental car. I wanted to find NPR and listen to the news. First I tried the preset buttons on the radio, which led me to talk show hosts yelling at each other and golden oldies – not what I was looking for. I then tried scanning up and down the dial, where I found mostly Justin Bieber and Katy Perry (I would not have known who the “artists” were without the help of the hyper-kinetic DJ). I eventually gave up. Continue reading

Accreditation week

We had a pretty full inspection schedule last week. It wasn’t our goal to have three separate accreditation visits in a single week, evaluating various aspects of our clinical programs, but that’s how it worked out. The Cancer Center had inspectors on campus to renew the formal accreditation for our bone marrow transplant program (Federation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy), our breast center (National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers) and our overall cancer care delivery program (Commission on Cancer). Although we will not have formal reports for a number of weeks, I am pleased to say that all three visits appeared to go extraordinarily well. Continue reading