With the end of this grant cycle, quietly, a major change of the leadership guard is occurring here at SWOG.

Our long-time deputy chair, Dr. Anne Schott, is departing. Taking her place in the No. 2 post is Dr. Primo “Lucky” Lara. I am grateful to them both.

Dr. Schott rose to a leadership role in SWOG in 2004, when Dr. Charles Coltman, Jr. appointed her as an executive officer. She oversaw a huge trial portfolio that included lung and head and neck cancers, as well as trials in early therapeutics and special populations. Dr. Schott later went on to take responsibility for survivorship.

From 2013 to 2019, she served as deputy chair. This post involved huge responsibility – including overseeing all of our NCTN treatment trials. She helped with a number of special projects, which include creating and launching SWOG Clinical Trials Initiative, or CTI, a mechanism for distributing industry funding for federally-funded SWOG trials as well as a mechanism for conducting rigorous, scientifically relevant industry-supported trials.

Now under the purview of Dr. Kathy Albain (in another recent leadership change),  SWOG-CTI is now known as SWOG Clinical Trials Partnerships, or SWOG CTP, and its mission is the same as SWOG’s – to significantly improve lives through cancer trials, including meaningful translational research.

Dr. Schott is an exceptional mentor and a deeply analytical thinker. Though she cannot be replaced, SWOG will be well-served by Dr. Lara, who inherits the second-in-command role and the science, policy, operations, and strategy responsibilities that the position entails.

You likely know Dr. Lara, a long-time SWOG member and the director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Lara is already making his mark, leading the January committee chairs retreat. I expect him to move us forward, consistently and quickly, when it comes to our NCTN trials and our scientific strategy. Work is well underway on our new strategic plan, which grew out of that January retreat.

We have even more leadership changes brewing.

Newly-imposed SWOG term limits have ended the run for Dr. Paul Okunieff as the chair of our radiation oncology committee. And we’re also on the hunt for a new committee chair for our gastrointestinal trials team. Searches are underway for both positions.

I want to thank Anne and Lucky, and all the gifted physicians, scientists, statisticians and more who lead our group and our committees. SWOG’s success is a direct result of your dedication.

While we do not yet know anything about funding, our NCORP Research Base application received an outstanding, high-impact score. My strongest congratulations to SWOG Vice Chair Dr. Dawn Hershman and all our NCORP investigators for their hard work and notable accomplishments and impact.