You've probably already heard the biggest news discussed at our Chicago meeting last week: NCI has announced the postponement of issuing requests for applications (RFAs) for renewal of most NCTN grants by as much as a year. RFAs for NCORP research base grants are likely to be similarly delayed.

An additional year does give SWOG the opportunity to craft even stronger applications. But, our constitution ties the group chair’s term to grant cycle start and end dates, so a year’s delay  raises questions about the timing of leadership change in the group.

Enter our board of governors. They weighed in on this issue Saturday, up-voting a motion that I remain as group chair through either the spring 2026 group meeting or the start of our next NCTN operations grant, whichever occurs first. No one saw a benefit in moving our current operations grant to a new institution for just the final year of a grant cycle. Better to wait a bit and keep the grants, institutions, and chairs in sync.

Now, I love being SWOG group chair and am excited to have an additional year in the role, but we have already chosen my successors. So, there was much talk last week of how specifically our group co-chairs-elect and I would share leadership and decision-making.

I’ve been working closely with Drs. Lara and Hershman to ensure a smooth transition and will increasingly involve them in conducting group business, especially for issues that will carry forward into their terms as group co-chairs. This means consulting them on the big decisions, such as formal policy changes and appointing new committee chairs or executive officers, but it means getting them more involved in ongoing business as well, such as joining my standing calls with leadership and senior staff. They’ll also increasingly join me in representing SWOG in meetings with the NCI and with the NCTN group chairs. 

I’ve devoted much of this post to this single – admittedly significant – topic, but so much more happened in Chicago last week:

New leaders
A number of new leaders eagerly immersed themselves in their roles at their first group meeting as committee chairs. These included new chairs of our GU committee and our radiation oncology committee, along with new co-chairs of our patient advocate committee.

We held two strategic retreats, with our breast and GI committees. These sessions give research committees a serious stretch of time to discuss long-term strategy and priorities, partly in preparation for upcoming grant renewal applications. We’re planning for two such retreats at each group meeting, and have tentatively lined up our myeloma and early therapeutics and rare cancers committees for Seattle in the spring.

Ideas for future group meetings
In the swirl of ideas and proposals last week, a few that rose near the top entail adding new features to group meeting itself. 

One of these ideas was to codify a single overall institutional performance and quality score that incorporates numerous site metrics. This would allow us to recognize our top-scoring sites in venues including future plenaries – on a par with our recognition of our top-accruing sites.

We’re also formulating a plan to feature the work of graduates of our Early-Stage Investigator Training Course and the research of other Hope Foundation grant recipients more formally at group meetings – perhaps initially in a poster gallery, but eventually in a session dedicated to such presentations. This should raise the visibility of these investigators, their research, and the Hope programs that made the work possible.

Hope enters year 31
The Hope Foundation board of directors met Wednesday, and in addition to electing a new slate of officers, the board pledged a record $3.4 million in support of SWOG’s work in 2024!

If you missed our general plenary last week, please watch for the posting of the recording. The session featured vignettes illustrating the range of ways in which support from The Hope Foundation has enabled SWOG research and strengthened our impact over three decades. It was inspiring and deeply moving.

Survey and CME
I’ll close with three perhaps predictable reminders:

  1. If you registered for group meeting, you should receive an email with a link to a post-meeting survey. Please take few minutes to complete this. Your feedback helps us improve future events.
  2. Continuing medical education (CME) credit is available for about two dozen of last week’s sessions. If you attended sessions and wish to earn CME credit for them, please visit the “Claim CME Credit” link in the meeting app.
  3. Recordings of the open sessions will be posted to the SWOG website soon.

For me, group meeting is always a packed but truly exhilarating week. Let’s do it again in Seattle next April!

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