Saying we value our SWOG Cancer Research Network statisticians would be the understatement of the year. They literally power our trials, which is why they are placed into the second author slot on all of our primary clinical trials publications. Sometimes they play larger roles and merit higher placement.

That’s certainly the case next weekend, when the Society for Clinical Trials (SCT) annual conference kicks off in New Orleans. Members of the SWOG Statistics and Data Management Center submitted eight abstracts and one invited session to the conference – and all nine were accepted. Seven will be oral presentations! That’s a better ORR than SWOG itself achieved at ASCO.

A variety of stats members deserve our congratulations. Statisticians, statistical research associates, data coordinators and supervisors, and applications developers and programmers all will present their work at the conference, which will draw hundreds of people from 34 countries.

SCT was tailor-made for our stats and data crew, as it focuses on the methods and management of clinical trials. The Philadelphia-based nonprofit is a multidisciplinary scientific, educational, and charitable group whose membership includes statisticians and statistical research associates, data and technology managers, regulators, protocol managers, and other professionals who make clinical trials possible through trial design and data management and analysis.

Here are some highlights from the SWOG stats presentations at SCT:

- In an invited session, statisticians Mary Redman, Megan Othus, and Jim Moon will talk about using real-world data and real-world evidence in clinical trials – including information from electronic health records, claims and billing data, and registries. The stats team will cover the benefits of real-world data and evidence, as well as pitfalls such as confounding and selection bias, and how to use these data rigorously and reproducibly.

- SWOG investigators have been doing groundbreaking work using novel databases. The team that brought you the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial recently used linkages to the Medicare and the National Death Index databases to investigate the possible increased risk of high-grade cancers in a long-term follow of the PCPT, and the New England Journal of Medicine published the results earlier this year. Abstract authors Phyllis Goodman, Catherine Tangen, Amy Darke, Joe Unger, Cathee Till, and Ian Thompson will explain their unique approach in their SCT presentation.

- Two presentations will focus on DART, our rare cancers study. DART has been getting a ton of attention over its unique design and rapid accrual. DART is a “basket” trial that is testing two immunotherapies in patients with 37 rare cancer types. Edward Mayerson and Melissa Plets will talk about the rationale and realities of working with a unique trial design in a rare cancer population. Co-authors include Young Kwang Chae, Razelle Kurzrock, Megan Othus, and Sandip Patel. 

- Hongli Li, who wrote an abstract with co-authors Megan Othus and James Moon, will present on a unique approach to the increased data monitoring required by FDA registration trials run through the NCTN. To manage the crush of data coming in from registration trial S1404, stats staff created a series of computer programs that automatically tracked data submissions, identified data inconsistencies, and delivered notifications to staff – making registration trial work faster and easier.

Congratulations to other abstract presenters Chris Cook, Katie Minichiello, Cathy Rankin, and Katherine Snappin, who show off SWOG’s innovation in software tools and trial processes. Their co-authors include: Kari Chansky, Teresa Chern, John Crowley, Rick Dai, Darlene Davis, Antje Hoering, Yoong Kim, Dave Law, Michael LeBlanc, Shannon McDonough, Jieling Miao, Taylor Phillips, Angela Smith, and Danielle Weatherbee.

The SCT conference showing is one of a string of wins for our Seattle-based stats center, including a stellar NCI grant score last year and a seamless physical move this year by Cancer Research And Biostatistics that got them closer to their stats counterparts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the 2019 election of Group Statistician Michael LeBlanc to fellowship in the American Statistical Association. Similar to FASCO but tailored to their field, this honor recognizes ASA members who have made “outstanding contributions to statistical science.” Mike is a humble but strong leader who in no small part is responsible for SWOG’s recent successes.