Dr. O'Dwyer and Dr. Schnall
From the Co-Chairs, April 2023
April 19, 2023
Research definition
ECOG-ACRIN and PrECOG Research at ASCO 2023
June 30, 2023
Dr. O'Dwyer and Dr. Schnall
From the Co-Chairs, April 2023
April 19, 2023
Research definition
ECOG-ACRIN and PrECOG Research at ASCO 2023
June 30, 2023

News in Brief, June 2023

News in Brief

ECOG-ACRIN Names New Committee Leaders

At the Spring 2023 Group Meeting, the  ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) announced the following committee leadership appointments:

    • Ehab L. Atallah, MD (Medical College of Wisconsin), became co-chair of the Leukemia Committee, filling the position after previous co-chair Selina M. Luger, MD, became chair in 2022
    • Natasha C. Edwin, MD (Pacific Cancer Research Consortium NCORP/Providence Saint Vincent Medical Center), became community co-chair of the Myeloma Committee, replacing Matthias Weiss, MD
    • Shishir K. Maithel, MD (Emory University/Winship Cancer Institute), became co-chair of the Surgery Committee, replacing Colette R. Pameijer, MD
    • Carolyn J. Presley, MD (The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center), became the inaugural co-chair of the Geriatric Oncology Working Group

Welcome New Principal Investigators

At a recent meeting, the Principal Investigator Committee approved requests to change the following principal investigators:

    • Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium NCORP: Eric D. Whitman, MD, replaces Missak Haigentz, MD
    • Georgia NCORP: Guilherme Henrique C. Cantuária, MD, PhD, replaces Howard A. Zaren, MD
    • Penn State Cancer Institute: Cristina I. Truica, MD, replaces David F. Claxton, MD
    • University of Wisconsin-Madison/UW Carbone Cancer Center: Kari B. Wisinski, MD, replaces Anne M. Traynor, MD

ASCO Honors Angela DeMichele with Gianni Bonadonna Award

Angela M. DeMichele, MD, MSCE (University of Pennsylvania/Abramson Cancer Center), is the recipient of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 2023 Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award. The award, first presented in 2007, recognizes an active clinical or translational researcher with a distinguished record of accomplishments in advancing the field of breast cancer research and treatment. The candidate must also demonstrate exceptional mentoring abilities. Dr. DeMichele delivered a 30-minute lecture at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting as part of the honor.

A member of ECOG-ACRIN for many years, Dr. DeMichele is currently co-chair of the Breast Cancer Committee and co-principal investigator of the international PALLAS study, representing PrECOG, LLC. Dr. DeMichele is known for her instrumental role in developing palbociclib, one of the first CDK4/6 inhibitors. Her research centers on developing experimental therapeutics, investigating prognostic and predictive biomarkers, and designing novel approaches to identify and treat minimal residual disease to prevent breast cancer recurrence.

Learn more about Dr. DeMichele in this ASCO Connection tribute article.

2023 Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship Awarded

Julia D. Ransohoff, MD (Stanford University), is the recipient of the 2023 Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship Award, a research grant that aims to develop and promote excellence in clinical trials leading to improvements in cancer care. Each year, ECOG-ACRIN names one outstanding senior oncology or hematology research fellow at a member institution to receive this award and associated professional recognition. Her research project will focus on the tailoring of post-neoadjuvant therapy in patients with high-risk triple-negative breast cancer by detecting minimal residual disease via next-generation sequencing.

ASCO Honors Carmen Guerra with Excellence in Equity Award

Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE (University of Pennsylvania/Abramson Cancer Center), is the recipient of ASCO’s 2023 Excellence in Equity Award. Created in 2021, this award recognizes ASCO members who have made significant and measurable contributions towards increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion within the field of oncology or increasing access to equitable care for cancer patients.

Dr. Guerra is a key contributor to ECOG-ACRIN’s health equity efforts in recent years. She is recognized for her persistent work to advance equitable access to cancer clinical trials, cancer screenings, and care. She has led the development of several patient navigation programs to make cancer screening more accessible. She has also established community outreach and engagement programs to increase the participation of Black patients in cancer clinical trials.

Learn more about Dr. Guerra in this ASCO Connection tribute article.

Howard Zaren Retires as PI of the Georgia NCORP

Howard A. Zaren, MD, has stepped down as principal investigator (PI) of the Georgia NCORP. A dedicated member of ECOG-ACRIN for over 30 years, Dr. Zaren has devoted his career to the practice of surgical oncology, all the while advancing clinical trials, increasing access for patients, and growing the field of cancer care delivery. For example, he championed the EROS (E1Q11) trial, which recently showed the effectiveness of a reproductive health program to help align women’s reproductive goals and needs with cancer treatment. Prior to joining Georgia NCORP, he was PI of the Stroger Hospital of Cook County Minority Underserved NCORP, in the Chicago area. He is recognized as a strong advocate for providing community-based oncologists with opportunities to influence the scientific direction of ECOG-ACRIN.

Paul Catalano Becomes Associate Group Statistician

In April, ECOG-ACRIN appointed Paul J. Catalano, ScD as associate group statistician. Based in the Biostatistics and Data Management Center in Boston, Dr. Catalano is a mainstay for statistical leadership in ECOG-ACRIN gastrointestinal cancer trials and various PrECOG studies. As the research activities of ECOG-ACRIN expand and the organization takes on new National Cancer Institute initiatives to accelerate the development and progress of clinical trials, Dr. Catalano's extensive experience with the many facets of ECOG-ACRIN’s research activities will add immeasurably to the Group’s leadership resources.

Dr. Catalano is the director of the Biostatistics Core Facility at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, where he is also associate chair and a senior lecturer in the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology. 

Minority Trainees Attend Spring Group Meeting

Fifteen medical trainees attended the Spring 2023 Group Meeting in Chicago with minority travel scholarships from ECOG-ACRIN. Mainly, this program supports minority and underrepresented students, residents, fellows, and early-career investigators from member institutions. Other trainees focusing on minority health or health disparities may also apply regardless of race or ethnicity. Below, we highlight the 2023 recipients.

Photo collage of Spring 2023 Minority Scholarship recipients

 TMIST Update

The study chair for this trial is Etta Pisano, MD (University of Pennsylvania/American College of Radiology).

Enrollment of women in the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST) continues on pace, and is now more than 2/3 of the way towards the goal (128,905). Current enrollment stands at 88,178 as of June 21, 2023.

Nature Medicine Publishes NCI-MATCH Lessons Learned

The NCI-MATCH (Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice) trial, recently completed, remains one of the largest tumor-agnostic, precision oncology trials undertaken to date. Nearly 6,000 patients underwent screening and molecular testing, with a total of 1593 patients (inclusive of continued accrual from standard next-generation sequencing) being assigned to one of 38 treatment arms, of which 1201 received treatment. Each arm was a phase 2 trial of a therapy matched to a genomic alteration, with a primary endpoint of objective tumor response by RECIST criteria. In a new Nature Medicine publicationPeter J. O'Dwyer, MD (ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, University of Pennsylvania) and colleagues summarize the initial 27 treatment arms with outcomes data thus far. NCI-MATCH met its signal-seeking objective, with 25.9% of the arms being positive (7/27). The authors discuss key aspects of the design and operational conduct of the trial, highlighting five important lessons for future precision oncology studies.

Journal of Clinical Oncology Highlights E2211 Study Results

The Journal of Clinical Oncology’s (JCO) Editor in Chief selected the results publication of E2211 to feature in a recent Editor’s Choice email. The study, led by Pamela L. Kunz, MD (Yale University/Yale Cancer Center), met its primary endpoint and showed that the combination of capecitabine/temozolomide was associated with a significant improvement in progression-free survival compared with temozolomide alone in patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Dr. Kunz first presented the results at the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting. ASCO then selected the abstract for its Best of ASCO® program—and JCO published the findings in October 2022.

Journal of Geriatric Oncology Publishes GIANT Study Methods Paper

With an increasing incidence of pancreatic cancer in older adults, the GIANT trial (EA2186) aims to develop a tailored treatment approach for vulnerable older adults with newly diagnosed metastatic disease. This study utilizes a geriatric screening assessment to characterize patients as fit, vulnerable, or frail. Patients with mild abnormalities in functional status and/or cognition, moderate comorbidities, or over age 80 are considered vulnerable. Participants are randomized to receive either gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel or 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, and liposomal irinotecan. Don’t miss the study methods paper by study chair Efrat Dotan, MD (Fox Chase Cancer Center) and colleagues in the April issue of the Journal of Geriatric Oncology (by subscription). Dr. Dotan is a member of ECOG-ACRIN’s Executive Committee and chair of the Geriatric Oncology Working Group, part of the Health Equity Committee.

Spring Group Meeting Session Recordings

Session recordings from the recent meeting continue to be available to ECOG-ACRIN members on the Attendee Hub Website for a limited time. If you previously registered for the meeting, simply log in to the Attendee Hub with the information you provided during registration, navigate to ‘Schedule,’ and then select ‘On Demand’ from the dropdown list. If you did not previously register, you must first register for the meeting and then visit the Attendee Hub.

The Attendee Hub website will expire 90 days following the meeting (late July).

In the coming weeks, we will post select session resources and recordings from the spring meeting in the members’ section of the ECOG-ACRIN website. These materials will be available to anyone with member login credentials.

Research Results

Researchers with ECOG-ACRIN presented a wide range of study results at the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago and online June 2-6. Read the feature article in this issue.

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