Double your money. The three little words everyone wants to hear most (or maybe second on that list). And that’s exactly what SWOG and The Hope Foundation are planning with our VA Integration Support Program.

This year, the number of awards to VA medical centers will go down, but the size of each award is going up – from $25,000 to up to $50,000, to be spent during a one-year award period. The grants are larger, but our goal is the same – to give more military veterans access to SWOG and other NCI trials. VA medical centers that receive the awards can spend the money to start, or improve, their accrual efforts for NCI trials. The Hope applications are open, with a submission deadline of August 31.
Changes to our three-year-old grant program were made in direct response to the 
new NAVIGATE program, a partnership between NCI and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Last month, NCI and the VA announced the launch of NAVIGATE at 12 sites across the country:

  • Atlanta VA Health Care System
  • James J. Peters VA Medical Center in New York City
  • Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina
  • VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in Denver
  • Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina
  • Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois
  • Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California
  • Minneapolis VA Health Care System
  • VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California
  • Portland VA Medical Center in Portland, Oregon
  • Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital/South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio
  • VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven 

I sit on the NAVIGATE steering committee, and this launch was a thrilling sign that the spirit of our SWOG/Hope VA Integration Support Program is shared at even higher levels. And I personally believe that our grants have made a difference. Five of the 12 NAVIGATE sites have received SWOG/Hope VA funds (Note: I did not help select the sites!).
Like SWOG and Hope, the NCI and VA want to give veterans more access to cancer trials and the cutting-edge drugs, such as immunotherapies, that they test. As part of their agreement, NCI provides the funding needed for the VA facilities to participate in NCI trials. In turn, VA manages the organizational and operational activities within its national healthcare system, establishing a network to focus on NCI trial goals. So both SWOG’s and the NCI/VA programs fund the staff, tools, and training needed to build enhance clinical research networks at our VA centers. Of course, you can’t run clinical trials without infrastructure. Looking forward, our program is designed to be a feeder for NAVIGATE, helping sites get ready for their bigger funding application, as well as help them join SWOG, join a VA trials consortium, or enroll in the NCI Central IRB. All these actions will improve NCI trial access for veterans.
I am very excited. In October, Dr. Sheila Prindiville from NCI will talk with us about NAVIGATE at the semi-annual meeting general plenary, and you can learn more about it in this 
news article that appeared here in Oregon. Please visit the Hope website to check out the grant application, and pass this post on to any friends and colleagues at a VA medical center. Good luck to the applicants!