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News in Brief, May 2021

News in Brief

ASCO Honors Joe Sparano with Gianni Bonadonna Award

Joseph A. Sparano, MD (Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center) is the recipient of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 2021 Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture. The award, first presented in 2007, recognizes an active clinical and/or translational researcher with a distinguished record of accomplishments in advancing the field of breast cancer and with exceptional mentoring abilities. As part of the award, Dr. Sparano will deliver a 30-minute lecture at the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting.

A member of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) since 1991, Dr. Sparano is currently a deputy chair on the Executive Committee, voting investigator on the Principal Investigator (PI) Committee as PI for the Montefiore Minority Underserved NCORP, and co-chair of the Mentoring Program. He is the lead investigator for the groundbreaking TAILORx breast cancer clinical trial and continues to make research discoveries using the TAILORx data. Dr. Sparano’s research focuses on the clinical application of biomarkers in breast cancer and developmental therapeutic approaches for breast cancer, lymphoma, and HIV-associated cancers. Among his peers, he is lauded for his organizational skills and recognized as a committed mentor. He co-founded the Mentoring Program with ECOG-ACRIN's late Group Chair Robert L. Comis, MD. In 2001, Dr. Sparano initiated the ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Symposium, an annual event that has introduced more than 200 young clinical, translational, and basic cancer research scientists to the Group.

Learn more about Dr. Sparano, a pioneer in cancer research, in this ASCO Daily News tribute article.

ECOG-ACRIN Leaders on the Move

Executive Committee

Efrat E. Dotan, MD (Fox Chase Cancer Center) and Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH (Northwestern University) are newly appointed members of the ECOG-ACRIN Executive Committee. This governance body meets quarterly to monitor the scientific and operational progress of the Group and oversee strategic planning, finances, resource allocation, and related matters under the direction of the Group Co-Chairs.

Dr. Dotan chairs the Geriatric Oncology Working Group, where a research portfolio is blossoming under her leadership. She leads the development of elderly-specific trials that focus on treatments, identification of risk factors, and biomarkers of aging. The now enrolling EA2186 / GIANT study for advanced pancreas cancer is one example; others are in development. Dr. Dotan also leads efforts to enhance the accrual of older adults in all ongoing ECOG-ACRIN trials.

Dr. Simon, co-chair of the Health Equity Committee, supports the Group in addressing health disparities. Dr. Simon and committee co-chair Edith P. Mitchell, MD (Thomas Jefferson University) are currently developing an inclusion checklist to embed into ECOG-ACRIN’s protocol development process and they are helping to guide ECOG-ACRIN toward an explicitly anti-racist agenda.

Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Subcommittee

Shira N. Dinner, MD (Northwestern University) is the new co-chair of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (AYA) Subcommittee, replacing Selina M. Luger, MD (University of Pennsylvania). Dr. Dinner joins AYA Subcommittee chair John M. Salsman, PhD (Wake Forest School of Medicine).

EA Awards 2021 Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship

Jithma Abeykoon, MD (Mayo Clinic) is the recipient of the 2021 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. Dr. Abeykoon’s research project will focus on studying DNA damage repair proficiency in lymphoma to understand its functionality and to discover novel therapeutic strategies.

Trainees Attend the Spring 2021 Group Meeting

ECOG-ACRIN offers attendance award scholarships for each Group Meeting to encourage trainees from under-represented and minority groups to attend. Trainees may be students, residents, fellows, or early-career investigators. The main selection criterion is the alignment of the applicant's career goals with ECOG-ACRIN research priorities. The spring 2021 winners are:

  • Diane Allen-Gipson, MS, PhD (University of South Florida)
  • Iraida Carrion, PhD, LCSW, FGSA (University of South Florida)
  • Tomar Ghansah, PhD (University of South Florida)
  • Michele Ly, MHS, MD candidate (Jefferson University)
  • Kathryn Nunes, BA, MD candidate (Jefferson University)
  • Fabiana Serat, BS candidate (University of South Florida)
  • Michelle Sodipo, BS, MPH candidate (Yale University)
  • Danyell Wilson-Howard, PhD (Bethune Cookman University)
  • Zhuoer Xie, MD, MS (Mayo Clinic)

PRO Working Group to Host Webinar

The ECOG-ACRIN Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Working Group will host a webinar, Resources & Support for Integrating PROs in ECOG-ACRIN Studies, on Thursday, June 17 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT. The webinar will introduce attendees to helpful tools and resources to optimize the use of PROs in ECOG-ACRIN clinical trials. Guest speakers Claire Snyder, PhD and Michael Brundage, MD, MSc of the PROTEUS Consortium will share time-saving information, checklists, and practical resources that can help study teams:

  • Write PRO protocols
  • Select PRO measures
  • Analyze PRO data
  • Report PRO findings

The PROTEUS Consortium’s objective is to ensure that patients, clinicians, and other decision-makers have high-quality PRO data from clinical trials. A 40-minute presentation will be followed by a 20-minute question and answer period.

Register now or email proteam-ea@ecog-acrin.org with questions.

NCI-MATCH Trial Update

As a reminder to physicians and staff at current sites, please keep the 11 open treatment arms top of mind when looking for treatment options for your patients. Included in these treatment options is the recent opening of Arm Z1M, A Phase 2 Study of Nivolumab and BMS-986016 (Relatlimab) in Patients with LAG-3+ Tumors with Mismatch Repair Deficiency (MMRd) after Progression on Anti-PD-1/PD-L1 Therapy.

Is your site interested in opening NCI-MATCH? We encourage more NCI-affiliated sites to open the trial. Watch the video below to hear from sites about the benefits of participating in NCI-MATCH, plus an update from ECOG-ACRIN Study Chair Keith T. Flaherty, MD (Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center). Interested sites, please email match@jimmy.harvard.edu.

Record Accrual to TMIST Continues As Leaders Seek New Sites

Women continue to enroll in the TMIST breast cancer screening trial at a strong pace, with the trial posting its seventh month of record accrual in April 2021. Total study enrollment stands at 46,595 as of May 19. New sites may join this trial! If your site is interested in offering this trial to your constituents, email TMIST@acr.org to discuss the study requirements, reimbursement/payment structure, and how to start the application process.

Read more trial updates in the First Quarter 2021 TMIST Newsletter.

Suresh Ramalingam to Become Editor-In-Chief of Cancer

Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD (Emory University) will serve as the next editor-in-chief of Cancer, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society that integrates scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. His five-year term begins in July 2021. Dr. Ramalingam is a deputy chair on the Executive Committee, chair of the Thoracic Cancer Committee, and co-chair of the Mentoring Program.

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