Hot news! SWOG has updated its successful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) champions pilot program and is relaunching it as our Champions of Equity and Engagement in Research (ChEER) program, with a deadline for applications of February 23rd.

Now that you’re aware of the approaching deadline, here are the important details and backstory.

Since joining us at the end of 2021, our pilot group of five DEI champions has worked with specific research committees and study teams, to build evidence-based action plans to help our trials enroll population of participants that better reflect the diversity of the disease populations treated.

These DEI champions took leading roles in implementing the TeamScience@SWOG training program’s Module 6 methodology, each champion working with one disease committee and initially focusing on a single pilot trial.

As they worked to develop recruitment plans and educate study teams, some of the steps they took along the way included:

  • conducting a gap analysis of previous trials to recognize missed opportunities and identify countermeasures
  • traveling to selected NCORPs with historically high accrual from underrepresented groups, to educate staff and provide support on specific clinical trials
  • working to build and staff more permanent organizational structures within their committees for monitoring and planning for enrollment diversity
  • laying the groundwork for future processes to gather data on dimensions of diversity we don’t currently track in trial enrollment, such as patient sexual orientation and gender identity information

Our champions’ efforts have also generated a number of publications (with more submissions in process), including two abstracts accepted at last summer’s ASCO meeting.

Based in part on feedback from this first cohort of DEI champions as the two-year pilot program reached its end, and working hand in hand with The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research, we’ve refined and relaunched this leadership initiative as the Champions of Equity and Engagement in Research – or ChEER – program. 

Being a DEI leader in the National Clinical Trials Network’s cooperative group system is a highly specialized application of the skill sets needed by DEI researchers, and ChEER will provide our next champions a more formal foundation for carrying out this work in this context, in part through a two-day orientation that will feature faculty from across SWOG’s leadership and administrative teams (that orientation is currently scheduled for early May). 

The new program is also casting a wider net, encouraging candidates with interests that span the wide range of topics that touch on issues related to research equity and disparities, rather than limiting a candidate’s focus to the important work of any one committee.

ChEER program champions will propose and carry out a project using evidence-based guidance for increasing diverse representation in and equitable access to SWOG’s clinical trials.

The goals of a champion project could include: 

  • improving our understanding of the needs of underrepresented populations as they relate to clinical research,
  • developing tactics for overcoming barriers to trial recruitment for historically underrepresented groups, or
  • formulating strategies for promoting more equitable participation in clinical research

Champions will meet regularly with their mentors and ChEER program directors, and they’ll collaborate closely with our patient advocate and recruitment and retention committees.

Our project lead on this program is Dr. Jessica McDermott, who served as one of our pilot DEI champions, with the genitourinary committee, and thus has an insider’s perspective on how we can make our new and improved champions program … well, new and improved. She’s worked closely on the project with Dr. Don Dizon, SWOG vice chair for DEI & professional integrity.

Our ChEER program appointments will extend for two years and include an honorarium and support for travel to SWOG’s semiannual meetings. We’ll select two champions for the 2024-2025 program.

Full details are with the program application on The Hope Foundation website. If this seems a good fit for you or someone you know, don’t hesitate -- applications for the positions are due by Friday, February 23.

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Trial of the Week

S2101: Biomarker Stratified CaboZantinib and NivOlumab (BiCaZO) - A Phase II Study of Combining Cabozantinib and Nivolumab in Participants with Advanced Solid Tumors (IO Refractory Melanoma or HNSCC) Stratified by Tumor Biomarkers - an immunoMATCH Pilot Study

S2101, the pilot study for the ImmunoMATCH precision medicine trial, has been reactivated for accrual as of January 16th.

The trial has finalized one of the genetic and molecular tests that will be used to assign iMATCH patients to treatment groups, and the second test is in the final stages of validation. S2101 is now completing enrollment to Stage I to ensure these tests can be readily employed in real time in a clinical trial.  After this critical step, Stage II of the pilot will open and assign patients to groups based on the results of these tests.

All eligible patients registered to an available cohort in S2101 are treated with cabozantinib and nivolumab.

S2101 study chairs are 

  • Siwen Hu-Lieskovan, MD, PhD, of the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute
  • Paul L. Swiecicki, MD, of the University of Michigan
  • Katerina Politi, PhD, of the Yale Cancer Center

S2101 is now open at about 170 sites. Learn more on the SWOG S2101 page or the CTSU S2101 page(where revision 3 of the protocol is now posted). A patient-friendly summary of the study is also available, in both English and Spanish.

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