LSU HEALTH NEW ORLEANS’ OCHOA APPOINTED TO BIDEN CANCER MOONSHOT BLUE RIBBON PANEL
New Orleans, LA – Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of the LSU Health New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, is one of 28 scientific experts, cancer leaders and patient advocates who will help guide the scientific direction of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Dr. Ochoa, who also holds the Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer, is the only member of the National Cancer Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel from Louisiana. The panel will serve as a working group of the presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board and will provide scientific guidance from thought-leaders in the cancer community.
“This Blue Ribbon Panel will ensure that, as NIH allocates new resources through the Moonshot, decisions will be grounded in the best science,” said Vice President Biden. “I look forward to working with this panel and many others involved with the Moonshot to make unprecedented improvements in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.” According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the panel will begin its work immediately, and over the next several months, will consider how to advance the themes that have been proposed for the initiative. The themes include the development of cancer vaccines, highly sensitive approaches to early detection, advances in immunotherapy and combination therapies, single-cell genomic profiling of cancer cells and cells in the tumor microenvironment, enhanced data sharing, and new approaches to the treatment of pediatric cancers.
The NCI says the Blue Ribbon Panel members represent a spectrum of scientific areas, including biology, immunology, genomics, diagnostics, bioinformatics, and cancer prevention and treatment. Scientific members also include investigators with expertise in clinical trials and cancer health disparities. Importantly, the members of cancer advocacy groups and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies will be represented on the panel and its working groups.
“Dr. Augusto Ochoa is a preeminent scientist whose contributions include discovering signature changes in the immune system that indicate cancer has blocked the body’s protective immune response allowing it to grow and spread,” notes Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. “We recruited him from the National Cancer Institute where he led the Immunotherapy Laboratory.”
Augusto Ochoa, MD, earned his Medical Degree in Colombia, South America, and currently serves at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans as Director of the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center and Professor of Pediatrics. He holds the Al Copeland/Cancer Crusaders Chair in Neuroendocrine Cancer. He is also the Co-Director of the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium. Dr. Ochoa is a board- certified Pediatric Immunologist and a practicing physician at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, specializing in the field of Allergy/Immunology. He also leads the Al Copeland-LSU Health New Orleans Partnership in Viruses, Cancer, and Immunotherapy.
Dr. Ochoa’s career includes service to and recognition by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. He trained in Immunology at the University of Minnesota and served as the Head of the Cancer Immunotherapy Laboratory of the NCI Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center. In 2014 he concluded a 5-year term of service on the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology. He currently serves on the NCI Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee and as a member of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, an NCI-sponsored network dedicated to the development of new Immunotherapy trials. He has served in several NCI workshops, which strive to bring together a critical mass of experts in the field of cancer research to define areas where there is most likely to be advancement in cancer research and to introduce new cancer prevention concepts.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, Dr. Ochoa led the reconstruction of the LSU Health New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center through the development of partnerships among community oncologists, hospitals, and the LSU Health multi-disciplinary cancer clinics. These partnerships allowed the Cancer Center to successfully develop, and launch in 2014, the Gulf South Minority/Underserved NCORP (GS-MU-NCORP), an NCI-funded, multi-institutional, comprehensive cancer management program that creates a network of physicians, nurses and researchers from major teaching and private medical institutions throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. The GS-MU-NCORP has brought to the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi the latest promising investigational treatments for cancer, including unprecedented clinical trials that use genomic profiling to match a patient to treatments designed to target the genomic alterations that drive the growth of their cancer.
In October 2014, Dr. Ochoa was recognized with an Order of Merit by his alma mater, Universidad de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, for a lifetime of both scientific and academic achievement. This award is only given to those who have made international, original contributions in their specific professional field, have maintained a high professional standard, and have served as an outstanding scientific and academic ambassador. During his career, Dr. Ochoa has mentored the training of multiple doctoral candidates who have advanced to successful careers and earned grant funding that supports them to make their own significant scientific contributions.
Dr. Ochoa has served as an editorial reviewer for some of the most prestigious international professional journals such as: Blood, Cancer Research, European Journal of Immunology, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Immunology, Nature Medicine and Nature Immunology. He has participated as an author on more than one hundred original scientific publications disseminated in recognized, international professional journals.
LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana’s health care professionals. The state’s most comprehensive health sciences university,, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine, the state’s only School of Dentistry, Louisiana’s only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu, http://www.twitter.com/LSUHealthNO or http://www.facebook.com/LSUHSC.