Saying COVID-19 has changed our world is the understatement of the decade. One aspect we didn’t see coming: when it’s not safe to meet in big groups, we have to gather online. Making virtual meetings effective and engaging isn’t easy. But along with every other cancer research organization, we’re making it happen.

Saying COVID-19 has changed our world is the understatement of the decade. One aspect we didn’t see coming: when it’s not safe to meet in big groups, we have to gather online. Making virtual meetings effective and engaging isn’t easy. But along with every other cancer research organization, we’re making it happen.

Our Young Investigator Training Course (YITC) is no exception.

Thanks in large part to organizer and operations chief Dana Sparks, our annual training will move from an intimate face-to-face three-day session in Seattle to an intimate five-day session held via WebEx. This year, the course will run Dec. 14-18, with the first three days focused, as always, on the basics of running a SWOG Cancer Research Network trial, including an overview of the group, an introduction to our stats center, as well as pharmaceutical, data safety monitoring, and translational medicine issues. Working with pharmaceutical companies and patient advocates is also covered.

Attendees will meet with their mentors throughout, so they can begin to develop a relationship and discuss issues as they come up in the course and in development of their studies.

Whether or not to hold the YITC virtually was one of the toughest questions our leadership team wrestled with this year. Supporting young investigators is a major priority for us. And we all know that the power of this Hope Foundation-funded training is getting these young stars together, as a group, and giving them plenty of time to spend with SWOG senior leaders and staff. The relationships they forge with each other, and with their mentors, is a critical ingredient for the event’s success. Because the in-person interaction is so important, we considered cancelling the YITC event this year.

But we knew that we still need to support early career researchers. Perhaps now more than ever. So we pressed on with a virtual format. My congratulations to the pioneering YITC Class of 2020. I am looking forward to seeing you soon!

  • Dr. Hamed Ahmadi, University of Southern California
  • Dr. Sepideh Gholami, UC Davis Medical Center
  • Dr. Tanner Johanns, Washington University
  • Dr. Javier Retamales, Chilean Cooperative Group for Oncologic Research
  • Dr. David Zhen, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center

Also, mark your calendars for the next installment of Best of SWOG, our online recap of research presented at major cancer research meetings. The hour-long session takes place Wednesday, January 27 at 12 pm PT. Register here.

We had a good “Best of” kickoff in July, and will hold more of these sessions in the new year to come. It’s so important to stay connected, informed, and engaged on our cancer clinical trials. Our patients deserve no less.

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