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Giving and Awards

Loman receives Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award

Cancer research, as complex and technical an endeavor as it is, involves real people, and no matter what resources are expended, it is the human element that sustains it and propels it forward. HCRN annually recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to cancer research, patient care, and advocacy.

At a recent event, HCRN honored Rhoda Loman, clinical research specialist at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, with the 2017 Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award. The award was established in 2002 by HCRN co-founder William B. Fisher, MD, through the George and Sarah Jane Fisher Fund to honor the memory of Sandra Turner, HCRN’s first executive director. The award is given to those who exemplify the qualities Turner possessed and respected in others, such as sustained professional commitment, contribution to the progress of oncology care, and the unflinching touch of compassion.

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Reps for Research raises the bar for research funding

For the fourth consecutive year, Hoosier Cancer Research Network chairman Christopher A. Fausel, PharmD, is encouraging his friends, colleagues, and local businesses to support HCRN through a unique challenge event.

Fausel competes each year in the Arnold Sports Festival Pump & Run 5K in Columbus, Ohio, a combination event that includes bench-pressing and a 5K run. A dedicated fitness enthusiast, Fausel is passionate about advancing cancer research, and is inviting pledges in support of HCRN for every bench press “rep” he completes (maximum of 30) during the event on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Read More

The Art of Advocacy

“With cancer comes recognition of the fact that death is real, that you only are blest with so many days, and you only have so much time. But you also realize that you get to make choices about how you spend this measured time. When my diagnosis came, I decided how I wanted to spend this time — I chose advocacy and art. That was where I want to be, what I want to do.” Finding beauty in the midst of pain. It is a rare ability, but one that is not uncommon among a certain group of determined individuals: patient advocates.

“It is the beauty,” says Teresa Altemeyer. “When you soulfully paint someone’s eyes, you are trying to look as deeply as possible into a person and capture them. Likewise, when you are working with somebody who is a patient, you are trying to capture their essence, to answer questions that are profound.”

[Teresa is pictured with her husband, Don Altemeyer, and daughter Dana Altemeyer]

Teresa Altemeyer is a pillar in the Hoosier patient advocacy community and is the current board chair of the Indiana Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). HCRN recently honored Altemeyer with the Terry Hoeppner Patient Advocacy Award, named in memory of beloved Indiana University football coach Terry Hoeppner, who died from brain cancer in 2007. The award honors individuals who exhibit Coach Hep’s spirit and determination to champion their cause.

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HCRN honors four with annual awards

Hoosier Cancer Research Network honored four individuals for their outstanding contributions to clinical research and advocacy during its annual holiday and awards dinner Nov. 30 in Indianapolis. Read More

Award advances retrospective analysis of HCRN LUN14-179

Investigators working on the HCRN LUN14-179 study, which involved the use of concurrent chemoradiation with consolidation pembrolizumab for unresectable stage III non-small cell lung cancer, anticipated that some patients would experience pneumonitis. But they did not know which of their patients might be more susceptible than others.

To learn more about the rates of pneumonitis among study participants, and whether biomarkers could be identified that might predict whether a patient might be more susceptible, researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center launched a retrospective analysis of the study data. Read More

Alistar a compassionate innovator in GI cancer research

Angela Alistar, MD, has long considered both the emotional and physical well-being of patients as mutually paramount. A medical oncologist with Atlantic Hematology Oncology, Atlantic Medical Group, and the medical director of GI Medical Oncology at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Dr. Alistar held this conviction even before she pursued a career in medicine.

“Throughout my training and my career I have gravitated towards trying to understand the impact that illness has on patients and their families,” Dr. Alistar said. “Oncology seemed the appropriate fit for me because patients with cancer have high emotional needs and require tremendous support from their families and from their doctors,” she reflects. “This is why oncology is my path in medicine.”

For Dr. Alistar, compassion walks hand-in-hand with scientific passion. Before assuming her current role, she developed a research portfolio for GI cancers at Wake Forest School of Medicine, including investigator-initiated studies and Phase I studies in pancreatic cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, and colon cancer.

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Hoeppner Award recipient Lutane knows what it takes to get the job done

Hoosier Cancer Research Network recently honored Billye Lutane with the Terry Hoeppner Patient Advocacy Award. Lutane is a buyer for University Hospital, Riley Hospital, and the IU Simon Cancer Center. But more than that, she is a pillar within IU Health, having served for 35 years.

Like past recipients of the Hoeppner award, Lutane has demonstrated that patient advocacy is not simply something to do; it is a way to do everything. It is not so much a profession as a calling. It is a calling answered by people of all backgrounds and professions. Read More

Richardson brings relentless dedication to patient care

The Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award was established in 2002 by Dr. William B. Fisher through the George and Sarah Jane Fisher Fund to honor the memory of Sandra Turner, the first executive director of Hoosier Cancer Research Network. Each year the organization selects individuals for the award who exemplify the qualities Sandra possessed and respected in others, such as sustained professional commitment, contribution to the progress of oncology care, and the unflinching touch of compassion.

Stacey Richardson, RN, BSN, was honored as a recipient of the Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award in 2016. Richardson is a clinical research coordinator with Community Health Network. Her story illustrates how a spark of compassion becomes a flame.

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Gbolahan receives Fisher Young Investigator Award

Hoosier Cancer Research Network, formerly known as Hoosier Oncology Group, recently honored Olumide Gbolahan, MD, as the 2016 recipient of the George and Sarah Jane Fisher Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Gbolahan grew up in Nigeria where his interest in medicine took root in high school. “My aptitude was really more toward the health sciences, biology core sciences,” he said. “I found myself moving in the direction of medicine. Once I found myself in medicine, I did not see that I could do anything else.” Read More

HCRN chairman and donors team up to advance research

This spring, Hoosier Cancer Research Network Chairman Christopher A. Fausel, PharmD, invited friends and colleagues to join him in a unique challenge called Reps for Research. For the third consecutive year, Fausel added value to his participation in the Arnold Sports Festival’s 5K Pump and Run event, held March 5 in Columbus, Ohio, by inviting pledges in support of HCRN for every bench press repetition he completed.

Twenty-eight donors answered the challenge, contributing a total of $3,315 as Fausel successfully completed 30 repetitions during the event. Since 2015, Reps for Research has raised more than $8,000 toward innovative cancer research. This funding strengthens HCRN’s ability to support investigator-initiated clinical trials and correlative research that can lead to direct clinical benefit.

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Ellis honored for commitment and compassion

Serving others has been a lifetime calling for Cara Ellis. As a child, her parents taught her to appreciate what she had and to make the most of every opportunity. “I remember my father saying that he would love for his children to do some type of work where we are helping others,” Ellis recalls.

Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) recently honored Ellis, a clinical research coordinator at IU Health Central Indiana Cancer Centers, with the Sandra Turner Excellence in Clinical Research Award.

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HCRN chairman launches third “Reps” challenge

For the third consecutive year, Hoosier Cancer Research Network chairman Christopher A. Fausel, PharmD, is combining his passion for investigator-initiated research with his annual participation in the Arnold Sports Festival Pump & Run 5K in Columbus, Ohio.

Fausel has participated in the annual strength and endurance event for several years, and is inviting pledges in support of Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) for every bench press “rep” he completes (maximum of 30) during the event on Sunday, March 5, 2017. Read More

Fisher honored for lifetime of service

For more than four decades, William B. Fisher, MD, a medical oncologist at the IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, has served cancer patients, their families, and the community of East Central Indiana. Dr. Fisher was one of six oncologists who founded Hoosier Cancer Research Network (known then as the Hoosier Oncology Group) in the mid 1980s, and served as its founding vice chair. He has remained a strong supporter of the vision for collaborative research to expand patient access to clinical trials throughout the state of Indiana and beyond. In honor of his longstanding commitment, HCRN recently presented Dr. Fisher with the organization’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award during an event in Indianapolis. Read More

Courage to Climb benefit concert brings community together

Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., will host the 2016 Courage to Climb concert on Saturday, Aug. 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the high school’s Erne Auditorium.

The annual benefit concert, now in its seventh year, honors Columbus North choir director and cancer survivor Janie Gordon. Tickets are $15 at the door. Proceeds from the concert will benefit Hoosier Cancer Research Network, a nonprofit clinical research organization in Indianapolis.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Gordon broke the news to her students during rehearsal for their summer musical production. Despite their shock, three students wanted to do something to help. They secretly planned a concert in honor of Gordon and named the event “Courage to Climb,” based on a motto Gordon had adopted for her battle against cancer.

Gordon was just beginning chemotherapy when the concert was held. She recalls her initial reaction when she walked in and saw the auditorium decorated in pink. Read More

Reps for Research: Raising the bar in the fight against cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network Chairman Christopher A. Fausel, PharmD, has again and again raised the bar in the fight against cancer – literally. This spring, he reissued his unique challenge to friends and supporters of HCRN: the Reps for Research challenge. Combining his interest in strength training and his passion for investigator-initiated research, Fausel invited pledges for every bench-press “rep” he could complete at the Arnold Sports Festival’s 5K Pump and Run event in Columbus, Ohio.

“Each repetition generates a donation to the fund of the Hoosier Cancer Research Network,” said Fausel. At the largest event of its kind and flanked by competitors from across the country, Fausel lifted up more than weights, but also the cause of innovative clinical trials in oncology. “We are looking to partner with physicians, not only in Indiana, but throughout the United States, to come up with really important clinical studies for many different types of cancer research.”

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Flores finds oncology a bridge between basic and clinical research

“For a long time, I think we’ve tended to treat these two spaces separately, the basic science space and then the clinical space,” said John Paul Flores, MD, fellow at the Tufts University School of Medicine. Keenly aware of the relationship between patient care and basic science, Flores found in oncology a profound union of these two disciplines; a union that drew him to the field and informs his innovative work.

“I went into medical school, I started treating patients, and I realized I liked more of the patient-treating aspects than the basic science aspects. I also realized that, in lots of medicine, we didn’t really use any of that basic science that I had learned and that had attracted me to the field in the first place. But then, through internal medicine, I realized that oncology is actually a good combination of all of those interests. Part of it is patient care, and there is a huge responsibility when it comes to treating cancer patients; it is something that changes a patient’s life entirely. And at the same time, there is constant research and innovation going on. Any understanding of that requires a good appreciation of the basic sciences. So, it was a good mix of my two interests: basic science and treating patients.”

This past December, Flores was honored as a recipient of the Danny Danielson Translational Innovation Award. In 2013, Donald C. “Danny” Danielson established the award, granted by the Walther Cancer Foundation.

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Intellectual curiosity a driving force for Hirva Mamdani

Hirva Mamdani, MD, embodies one of the most powerful, human forces in the fight against cancer: curiosity.

Her inquisitive nature surfaced early in the fertile soil of her upbringing. “I grew up in a family of physicians, so I always saw my dad and siblings working very hard, taking care of patients, and making them feel better,” Dr. Mamdani says. “As you can imagine, I was little, so it kind of started out as a curiosity: How can they know so much about the human body, and how can they cure them of their illnesses?”

Dr. Mamdani recalls her dissatisfaction with what she first learned about cancer. “I learned it’s something for which nobody can offer any treatment, and once a person has it, you’re just bound to lose them. I was asking questions to my dad: ‘Dad, you’re a doctor. Can’t you treat cancer?’ That curiosity turned into an ambition to go into the field of medicine.”

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Regulatory affairs a rewarding career for Towler

A native Hoosier, William Ian Towler is the Regulatory Manager for the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. “My job is to make sure we function as smoothly as possible,” Towler says.

[Photo: Ian Towler (left) and HCRN co-founder and William B. Fisher, MD.]

The breadth of Towler’s impact is as wide as his responsibility. “My group is responsible for all the IRB submissions, all the ClinicalTrials.gov submissions, all the FDA IND submissions; so anything that might have a regulatory body, we are responsible for making sure we get them in on time and appropriately.”

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Fausel invites “Reps for Research” pledges

Hoosier Cancer Research Network chairman Christopher A. Fausel, PharmD, is once again combining his passion for investigator-initiated research with his annual participation in the Arnold Sports Festival Pump & Run 5K in Columbus, Ohio.

Fausel has participated in the annual strength and endurance event for several years, and is inviting pledges in support of Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) for every bench press “rep” he completes (maximum of 30) during the event on Sunday, March 6. Read More

A BCAN of hope in the darkness of cancer

In the dark world of cancer, there are those who shine like bright beacons of hope and guidance for many. Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) annually recognizes the role that spirited patient advocates and champions of oncological progress fill through the Terry Hoeppner Patient Advocacy Award, named in memory of beloved Indiana University football coach Terry Hoeppner, who died from brain cancer in 2007. The award honors individuals who exhibit Coach Hep’s spirit and determination to champion their cause.

HCRN recently honored Diane Zipursky Quale with the award in recognition of her long-standing support for cancer research and patient advocacy. President and co-founder of Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), Quale has been a champion of the bladder cancer community for more than 10 years.  Her story of uncommon determination reflects the characteristic spirit of her late husband, attorney John Quale, and of Coach Hep, two men who “never quit.” Read More

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