We’re on the cusp of another Labor Day weekend, the symbolic end of summer. Summer itself always seems to be a slow period in academics. But I’m excited that registration for our fall group meeting opens on the day after Labor Day – Tuesday, September 7. Our semi-annual meetings always rev things up and re-invigorate our members.

This will be SWOG’s fourth virtual group meeting. We’ve moved on from the initial disappointment of having to forego our plans for old-fashioned, in-person sessions and are now eager for the real excitement of another virtual meeting. 

The core of the meeting runs from Tuesday, October 12, through Friday, October 15, plus we will host the usual Saturday morning board of governors and committee chairs sessions. For the open meetings, Zoom links will be posted to the group meeting website. For the invitation-only sessions, watch your email inbox if you’re one of the participatory few.

This meeting won’t have some of the fancy additions we piloted at previous virtual meetings, such as the networking lounge (which sadly did not prove to be a hot spot at the spring meeting), but this fall’s gathering will have more sessions than our previous virtual meetings – more than 60 all told, including both plenaries.

Plenary I will focus on translational research in gastrointestinal cancers (a segment cleverly subtitled “We have the guts!”) and will also feature an update from one of the co-chairs of our Immunotherapeutics Committee – on work that group is doing to incorporate biomarkers in our immunotherapy trials.

The theme of Plenary II is Integrity and Ethical Behavior in Cancer Research, and it will feature an outstanding lineup of researchers and panelists on the subjects of gender inequity and sexual harassment in medicine and corresponding issues of accountability and ethical behavior in research. The discussion will both continue and inform ongoing discussions within SWOG about how to update our policies and procedures to ensure and support respect, transparency, and equity in our work environment.

The agenda includes key educational sessions, such as our SWOG NCORP Research Base clinical trials workshop. It also features a Robert B. Livingston Lecture by Valerie W. Rusch, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who will speak during the lung committee session (the Livingston Lecture alternates between the lung and breast committees, both of which were chaired, at different times, by Dr. Livingston). Her topic will be “Advances in Lung Cancer Care: Perspectives from a Surgeon.”

Be sure not to miss the kickoff meeting for our newest study – S2013, the I-CHECKIT trial, which will gather data from patient-reported outcomes to develop and validate a model to predict which patients are most at risk of immune-related adverse events after being treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. This session will also formally relaunch S1614 after a hiatus of almost a year, a newly revised study testing the value of prophylactic antiviral treatment in patients being treated for solid tumors who have or had a hepatitis B infection.

A preview for next week

Finally, the fall meeting will again feature a SWOG Latin America Initiative Symposium, which will provide an opportunity for many to work for the first time with SWOG’s new executive officer for international affairs, Mariana Chavez Mac Gregor, MD, MSc, of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Chavez Mac Gregor started in the role this week, so I didn’t want to delay in welcoming her as our newest EO, but I’ll devote next Friday’s Front Line to more properly introducing her, and to properly extending thanks to our outgoing executive officer Dr. Alejandro Mohar, who will be sorely missed.

So mark your calendar now for next Tuesday: “Register for group meeting!”

Remember that all times on the schedule on the website are in Central Time – we can at least pretend to be in Chicago if we can’t be there in reality. Pretending to eat deep dish Chicago pizza may prove a bit more challenging.

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