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Monday, June 2, 2008

A Strategist Aids Kennedy Once More

A Strategist Aids Kennedy Once More : Doctor Marshals The Experts As Senator Weighs Treatment Options

By Matt Viser

Globe Staff / June 2, 2008

In the days after being diagnosed with potentially inoperable brain cancer, Senator Edward M. Kennedy began crafting a strategy for his health, one not altogether different than those he's devised to pass healthcare legislation, run for president, or win regattas on Nantucket Sound.

And to lead the methodical, analytical approach, the 76-year-old senator has turned to one of his most trusted former aides, Dr. Lawrence C. Horowitz. A Yale-trained doctor who has played a role in steering medical treatment for others in the Kennedy clan, Horowitz is organizing a group of experts and former Kennedy staff members to scour medical literature and research experimental treatments to help Kennedy decide which cutting-edge cancer treatments to pursue.

"Horowitz is trying to organize all the flying objects," said Gerard Doherty, former chairman of the state Democratic Party and a longtime friend of the Kennedy family. "He's a two-fer: a medical man who . . . knows Teddy."

Doherty said Horowitz and the Kennedys are looking at a doctor at Duke University Medical Center, which has a brain tumor research center that is conducting several clinical trials on malignant glioma, the type of tumor with which Kennedy has been diagnosed. Also on the list of places where Horowitz probably would seek opinions are M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and a major brain tumor center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Horowitz devised diets for Kennedy as the senator contemplated running for president in 1984. He treated Patrick Kennedy when the 12-year-old suffered an asthma attack on a flight from Wichita, Kan., in 1980. And when Edward M. Kennedy Jr. was diagnosed with a dangerous bone cancer in his right leg, Horowitz helped the family find the innovative treatments that saved the 12-year-old boy's life.

To many in the vast network of Kennedy family members, friends, and staff members, it seemed logical that he would turn to Horowitz as the senator pursues a path similar to millions of other patients in this age of Internet information: conducting independent research in addition to consulting with a doctor.

But in this case, Kennedy's own analysis is being carried out by a deep bench of knowledgeable current and former staff members who have vast experience with medical research and bureaucracy - most of it gained through working for Kennedy himself.

"My role is to reach out to everybody everywhere - Mass. General, Brigham, anywhere across the country," said Horowitz, who since Kennedy's diagnosis has had dozens of discussions with doctors and researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, research hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry.

"You try to present the range of alternatives," Horowitz said. "He discusses them; he sees the advantages and disadvantages of each decision, like any other patient would."Continued...

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