New Director of Thoracic Medical Oncology Offers Personalized Lung Cancer Protocols
PHILADELPHIA (October, 2008) — Medical oncologist George R. Simon, MD, FACP, FCCP, has joined Fox Chase Cancer Center as director of thoracic oncology in the medical oncology department. He specializes in cancers of the chest, predominantly lung cancer and mesothelioma.
"My special interests lie in developing individualized treatment strategies for patients based on their molecular profile," said Simon.
While double-agent chemotherapy is the standard first-line treatment for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer, the drugs used often reflect the oncologist's personal preference. In contrast, Simon's approach bases the choice of drugs on the activity of certain genes found in the patient's tumor.
Board-certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology, Simon comes to Fox Chase after eight years with the University of Florida's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa. There he led the team that established the prognostic value of the DNA-repair enzyme ERCC1 (excision-repair cross-complementation group 1). Patients whose tumor cells show high levels of activity by the ERCC1 gene have a good prognosis and do not benefit from additional platinum-based chemotherapy.
Simon and his colleagues have shown the feasibility of chemotherapy based on ERCC1 and another gene called RRMI, which predicts gemcitabine resistance. Such molecularly tailored chemotherapy suggests benefits for patients with advanced or stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer by improving response rates and survival.
Simon is continuing these approaches for non-small-cell lung cancer patients at Fox Chase. He is also exploring novel drug combinations both in previously treated and in untreated patients with mesothelioma.
In the laboratory, Simon and his team are studying nuclear-excision repair and its effect on the bulky DNA adducts generated by some of the newer platinum-based drugs. The research team is also working to identify treatment strategies for stage III non-small-cell lung cancer, based on markers of nuclear-excision repair. A second area of laboratory investigation is glucose metabolism in tumors.
Simon is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and American College of Chest Physicians. He is also an invited member of the thoracic core committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and a member and editor of the American College of Chest Physician's lung cancer guidelines panel.
Simon earned his medical degree in 1986 at Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana in Punjab, India. He served residencies in internal medicine there and at St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver, Colo. He completed a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.
Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase also was among the first institutions to receive the National Cancer Institute’s prestigious comprehensive cancer center designation in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has achieved Magnet status for excellence three consecutive times. Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research and oversees programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. For more information, call 1-888-FOX-CHASE (1-888-369-2427).