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The Front Line
The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair


Exploring Cross-Cutting Themes

Aug 15, 2014 - I've written before in this space about our efforts to enhance engagement among SWOG members and to strengthen communication within committees. Almost all of our committees now hold regular monthly conference calls with their working group members, and our Scientific Leadership Forum (SLF) was launched last summer to bring together committee-level leaders from across the Group, fostering cross-committee scientific collaboration and the sharing of ideas and best practices.

This week's SLF call gave me a chance to update our committee chairs on the status of SWOG's NCORP Research Base grant (great score -- medium funding, but more on this in an upcoming column) and gave us all a chance to brainstorm ideas on how committee-level and SWOG-level leadership can work together to provide effective support letters for investigators who have a significant SWOG commitment and are up for promotion at their institution.

We discussed logistics for our Translational Medicine Retreat that will follow the fall group meeting in Chicago, and a course of action for helping SWOG committees respond rapidly to CTEP solicitations for clinical trial proposals asking us to test promising new drugs as they become available. The call closed with a status update on the work of our Myeloma Committee, which is truly outstanding.

The other agenda item we covered requires input from some of you. As our Adolescent and Young Adult Committee becomes more active, and given the cross-disciplinary nature of AYA concerns, we discussed whether most SWOG research committees should have an AYA representative or liaison (in much the same way that many of our committees have liaisons to the Surgery or Imaging Committees). The answer, simply put, is yes, they should. Based in part on the experience of our AYA-focused colleagues at the Children's Oncology Group, we agreed that the best way to identify strong candidates for these important liaison roles would be to query the SWOG membership for volunteers, rather than look to the committee or AYA chairs for direct appointments.

If you are an investigator with significant involvement in the work of a disease, NCORP, or modality committee, have a specific interest in the needs of adolescents and young adults with cancer, and would like to serve as a liaison between your committee and the AYA Committee, please contact me directly at blankec@ohsu.edu. I'll work with individual committee chairs on how to proceed further. And together with you we'll continue to work to strengthen exchanges between SWOG committees and support an exciting initiative (AYA in SWOG). Best of all, our AYA Committee itself may have some funding, to help those serving in this function attend our live meetings.


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