Committed to Excellence in Cancer Research, Education and Patient Care
July 2018
Tulane Welcomes Kendra Harris, MD, MSc - New Interim Chair of Radiation Oncology
Kendra Harris, MD, MSc, is the new interim chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology.
"I think it's important to go back every now and then and remind yourself what a privilege it is to take care of people," said Kendra Harris, MD, MSc , as she prepared to hang, along with her degrees, a framed copy of her application essay for radiation oncology residency in her new office.

As interim chair of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Harris outlined her plans for the future of Tulane's program.

"For me, the primary goal is always to offer access to cutting-edge therapies, including clinical trials, while doing whatever is necessary to make the radiation therapy process easier for our patients," said Harris. "That could include everything from offering the best clinical trials available, to utilizing advanced imaging to offering treatment courses that are shorter to ensuring we are positioned to offer all options for all disease sites."

She is also focused on pursuing collaborative relationships with oncologists across the city and region. " We is always better than me ," said Harris.

Dr. Harris is board-certified in radiation oncology and radiobiology. She earned her medical degree and completed her residency at Johns Hopkins.  She also completed a fellowship in patient safety at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. 

Prior to joining Tulane, Dr. Harris practiced at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center, where she treated patients with proton therapy, photon therapy and high-dose-rate brachytherapy, and served as principal investigator for a number of clinical trials.

Dr. Harris's journey to New Orleans actually started in 2009, when she and her husband attended their first Jazz Fest. They were hooked and made it an annual tradition - even getting New Orleans cell telephone numbers on an early trip. "My husband thought it might provide cosmic help in moving us here," laughed Harris. "He also put us on the waiting list for Saints season tickets!" Their stars finally aligned, and shortly after Dr. Harris accepted her new position they got the call that their ten-year wait for season tickets was finally over. A little lagniappe to welcome them to New Orleans!

Dr. Harris can be reached at 504-988-1070 (clinic), 504-439-1111 (cell), or For appointments, please call the Radiation Oncology Department at 504-988-1070.
“For me, the primary goal is always to offer access to cutting-edge therapies, including clinical trials, while doing whatever is necessary to make the radiation therapy process easier for our patients.”
-Kendra Harris, MD, MSc
Nakhle Saba Receives Ladies Leukemia League Grant to Study New Target for ALL
Nakhle Saba, MD, is investigating a potential new therapeutic target in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Nakhle Saba, M.D. , associate professor of clinical medicine, recently received a one-year, $30,000 Ladies Leukemia League (LLL) grant to study the role of a protein - MALT1 - in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) and whether targeting this protein can kill the cancer cells.
B-ALL is the most common leukemia in children; it also has a higher incidence among 60- to 70-year-olds. While it is often curable in kids, older patients can develop a resistance to the drugs used to fight the disease - including classic chemotherapy and targeted therapy - leading to death.
In most cases, these drugs help achieve remission but they are not curative. Some patients remain in remission for years, but others, especially those with high-risk disease, can develop a mutation that makes them resistant to the drugs, leading to relapse. "We believe that MALT1 could be a new target along this pathway to resistance," said Saba.
This project builds on prior work in which Saba and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Weill Cornell Medical College looked at the role of MALT1 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common leukemia in adults in the U.S. "We found that it does play a critical role in the survival of CLL cells and that targeting this protein in the lab can overcome drug resistance to novel targeted therapy," said Saba.
The team "targeted" MALT1 with a drug called MI2 - a small molecule inhibitor discovered by Weill Cornell's Ari Melnick and colleagues - that can go into the cell and bind to MALT1, inhibiting its activity. "When we tried this in CLL to overcome ibrutinib resistance, we looked at cells harboring these mutations and they were dying," said Saba.
In this new project, he hopes to reproduce these results in B-ALL. "Our preliminary data show that MALT1 is active in this disease. Ultimately we hope to come up with a new agent that can overcome drug resistance and prolong long-term disease control."
Bryan Subaru & LLS Bring Comfort to Patients Through Subaru Loves to Care Initiative
The team from Bryan Subaru (Sonny West and Andy Daigle, far left) and the local chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (Hillary Christiansen, second from the right) visited Tulane Comprehensive Cancer Clinic recently with gifts of hope for patients, provided through the nationwide Subaru Loves to Care initiative.
For the third year in a row, Subaru of America, Inc., partnered with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to spread hope, love and warmth to cancer patients through the Subaru Loves to Care initiative.

Since 2015, Subaru and its retailers have partnered with the LLS to donate over 105,000 blankets and 12,465 arts and crafts kits, along with messages of hope written by Subaru customers, to those fighting cancer at hospitals and cancer treatment centers across the country. The kits are given to young cancer patients or to the children of patients who accompany their parents to treatment.

Locally, the team from Bryan Subaru in Metairie and Hillary Christiansen with the Mississippi/Louisiana Chapter of the LLS visited Tulane Comprehensive Cancer Clinic on June 28, distributing their gifts of hope to patients visiting clinic that day.

"The partnership between The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Subaru is very special," said Melissa Barrois, LMSW, social worker for Tulane Comprehensive Cancer Clinic. "Patients were thrilled to receive their gifts, and it's been great to see several of them bring their blankets to keep warm during long infusion appointments or use their totes to carry their medical documents, booklets, and snacks. I hope that we are blessed to continue to be a part of this partnership for years to come."

 J. Quincy Brown, Ph.D. , associate professor of biomedical engineering and Tulane Cancer Center Program member, was recently selected by the biomedical engineering undergraduate and graduate students as AEMB Teacher of the Year. He also received the Tulane Graduate Studies Student Association Excellence in Graduate Level Teaching Award.

 Michael Hoerger, PhD, MSCR , assistant professor of psychology and psychiatry and Tulane Cancer Center Contributing Member, was Conference Abstract Award Winner at the 2018 Society of Behavioral Medicine Meeting, held recently in New Orleans.

Brian G. Rowan, PhD, the Gerald and Flora Jo Mansfield Piltz Endowed Professor of Cancer Research and chair of the Department of Structural & Cellular Biology, was honored with the award for T1 Best Integrated Module by the Tulane Medical Student Organization's Owl Club.
Calendar of Events
Wednesday, August 8
Saturday, August 18
Saturday, September 15
Saturday, September 29
Thursday, October 11
Tulane offers free prostate screenings - a PSA blood test - on the second Tuesday of each month at Tulane Comprehensive Cancer Clinic, 150 S. Liberty St., New Orleans. To make an appointment, call 504-988-6300 or 1-800-588-5800.
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