Next Monday, May 20th, is International Clinical Trials Day. That's the anniversary of the date ship's surgeon James Lind started his 1747 British Royal Navy experiment in treating scurvy, an exercise widely considered the first formal randomized clinical trial. It was highly positive, offered an economical new treatment, and transformed the standard of care. The perfect study!

In recent years, Clinical Trials Day has become a chance to raise public awareness of the impact of research studies and to recognize the importance of careers in clinical research and the value of contributions from clinical research professionals.

So, this is the ideal opportunity for me, as chair of a major clinical cancer research organization, to extend a direct, heartfelt “thank you!” to the thousands of oncology research professionals who, day in and day out, are the intersection between our clinical trials investigators and the patients who power those studies.

Oncology research professionals represent well over one-half of SWOG’s 20,000+ members. They’re the clinical research associates, data managers, research nurses, research administrators, and other professionals who make our trials work at more than two thousand clinical sites across the U.S. and beyond. 

They’re often the front-line staff who present potential studies to patients, answer their questions, collect medical histories, record trial data, and ensure regulatory compliance. As a group, SWOG can significantly improve lives through cancer clinical trials and translational research only because of the work these members do every day.

“Research professional” covers a wide range of roles and positions, and in celebrating effort and  impact on this Clinical Trials Day, I also want to honor a small but mighty subset of professionals who have a truly outsize impact on SWOG’s research – our staff.  

In a November post, I highlighted some of the roles filled by our Statistics and Data Management Center staff; today I want to focus on our Network Operations Center (though I’m profoundly grateful for the work done by all of our staff).

Most of our NOC staff are based out of our San Antonio office, with another contingent connected with our Portland office and a third team based in Ann Arbor (also associated with The Hope Foundation and SWOG Clinical Trials Partnerships). The NOC’s largest department is protocol development – the project and program managers who oversee the drafting and updating of the user manuals for our clinical trials. Our second largest department is quality assurance. We’d be nowhere if we couldn’t ensure stellar quality, and this team includes our site auditors and serious adverse events coordinators.

Smaller staff teams, with no-less-vital roles, manage training, membership programs, group meetings, information systems, grants, contract negotiations, budgets, communications, publications, human resources, accounting, finance, development, and more.

I’m continually impressed by the hard work our staff put in, which I see as a manifestation of their belief in SWOG’s mission to significantly improve lives through our research.

Next Friday, in the run-up to ASCO’s 2024 Annual Meeting, I’ll use Front Line to highlight some of our exciting research this year, as well as the SWOG investigators who will present trial results at the world’s biggest cancer clinical research meeting. 

But this week, a few days out from Clinical Trials Day, I say again thank you to the oncology research professionals who are often our first line of contact with the patients who join our trials, and the SWOG staff professionals who enable and further our research behind the scenes. 

I truly appreciate you and all you do.


Trial of the Week

The myeloMATCH precision medicine umbrella trial in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) is now open!

The MYELOMATCH screening protocol and one substudy – SWOG’s MM1YA-S01 – activated yesterday, May 16th. 

Both protocols have now been posted to (links above), but I’ll also include a link here to my Front Line posting of last Friday, titled myeloMATCH: The Next Revolution in the NCTN, as a big-picture overview of the effort.

Two additional substudies are expected to open in the coming days:

  • MM1YA-CTG01, led by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group 
  • MM1OA-EA02, led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group

This activation is tremendously exciting news! myeloMATCH has been in development for some time, and it will be the framework for all NCTN trials in myeloid malignancies going forward. 

A big question now: what site will be the first approved to enroll to myeloMATCH?

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