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U-M CCC - Progress Newsletter Winter 2004 Online

Cancer Center People

Laurence Baker, D.O., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, associate chief of the Division of Hematology/ Oncology and deputy director for clinical research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center has been elected chairman of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), the largest cancer clinical trials organization in the world. SWOG's National Cancer Institute-sponsored membership consists of nearly 4,000 leading physicians at 283 institutions throughout the US and Canada. Since its inception in 1956, SWOG has directly affected the lives of more than 150,000 patients enrolled in the group”s clinical trials. Since 1990, SWOG research has led to the FDA issuance of new drug approvals for 10 cancer therapies.

Baker joined the U-M faculty in 1994 after serving as director of the Meyer L. Prentis Comprehensive Cancer Center of Detroit. His research and clinical interests include sarcoma and new drug development. Baker also serves as a consultant and/or external reviewer to the National Cancer Institute and several university cancer centers.


Douglas W. Blayney, M.D. has been appointed to the newly-designated post of medical director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Blayney, who will also serve as a clinical professor of medicine at the U-M Medical School, will oversee clinical services in the Center's more than two dozen cancer care clinics, and will treat both breast cancer and lymphoma patients. He joins U-M from a private oncology practice in California, which he joined in 1986 and led since 1992.

A graduate of Stanford University and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), Blayney trained in internal medicine at UCSD and in oncology at the National Cancer Institute. His career has been marked by distinguished volunteer efforts with several national health care associations, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where he has served on the Board of Directors, as well as the committees on Clinical Practice, Cancer Education, and Online, and the Food and Drug Administration”s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles on cancer, cancer therapy and clinical trials.


Valerie Castle, M.D. has been appointed chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School. As chair, she also will be named as the first David Murray Cowie Professor of Pediatrics. Castle received her bachelor”s degree from McGill University in Montreal and her medical degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where she also completed her pediatric residency. Castle also completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the U-M Medical School. Castle”s research focuses on the pediatric solid tumor neuroblastoma. She is specifically interested in mechanisms of chemotherapy and radiation resistance as well as the control of neuroblastoma invasion and metastases. Castle is also an expert on the clinical management of this disease. Castle serves on a number of medical, research and children-related boards and committees, including the Advisory Panel on Research of the Association of American Medical Colleges.


David C. Smith, M.D., has been selected to head the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center's Clinical Trials Office (CTO), which is responsible for facilitating the record keeping, database management and regulatory compliance associated with the hundreds of clinical trials currently underway at the Cancer Center. Smith is an oncologist specializing in urologic hematology/oncology. His research interests include clinical trials in urologic malignancies and the development of novel therapies. Smith trained at the University of Washington in Seattle and Duke University and was a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute prior to moving to the University of Michigan in 1996. Throughout his career, he has focused on urologic oncology and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in this area as well as several book chapters. His particular area of interest is in the evaluation of new drugs for use in bladder, prostate, testis and kidney cancers.

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