This week we submitted our National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) request to the NCI – another big ask for our next six-year cycle of funding. As this document slowly but surely came together, I was impressed by our accomplishments and excited about where we are headed.

SWOG currently houses one of seven NCORP research bases, all home to a huge research portfolio – in prevention, cancer care delivery, quality of life, supportive care, symptom management, surveillance, palliative care, and survivorship. In addition, the NCORP infrastructure encourages studies designed to address cancer disparities. NCORP and SWOG both aim to identify the reasons when and why minority and underserved populations may respond to treatments differently, or have different access to cancer therapies. NCI has a number of strategies to enroll more racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, and rural patients enrolled onto federally funded trials, as do all the network groups.

Under the leadership of Dr. Dawn Hershman, SWOG’s Vice Chair for NCORP, our research base has been, and will continue to be, productive and innovative. In this last grant cycle, the SWOG NCORP program had 12 new approved trials either activated or in late development. In addition, SWOG NCORP members published over 100 manuscripts and presented some 50+ abstracts at scientific meetings. Many were in or at big-time journals and conferences – JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, and major oral sessions at ASCO, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, and the American Urological Association. The information collected from patients enrolled in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial and SELECT alone produced more than 50 secondary analysis manuscripts covering a wide range of topics.

Dr. Hershman and our NCORP committee chairs and statisticians also shine in translational science, innovative study design, and pioneering ways to collect and look at data. In the last five years, SWOG NCORP has launched the NCI’s first financial toxicity study, its first pragmatic trial, and its first positive multi-center, randomized controlled study for acupuncture in cancer care. Our NCORP team is also carving out niches in several areas – including novel uses of databases (e.g., Medicare claims and patient credit reports) and digital tools (text messaging, web and smartphone apps, and automatic medication ordering).

I am proud that there exists diversity in the members who lead SWOG NCORP trials – including non-physicians (nurses, nutritional scientists, pharmacists) and several community doctors. And many young investigators have recently launched NCORP trials, including Veena Shankaran, Virginia Sun, Justin Floyd, Jill Hamilton-Reeves, and Meghna Trivedi.

We had a large team working with Dr. Hershman on the NCORP grant application, all of whom get my thanks, and there is certainly strong vision for the next six years.  I will keep you updated on this latest, major SWOG grant submission.