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The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair

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SWOG 101: Executive Officers

Jan 17, 2014 - SWOG's by-laws are quite broad in defining the role(s) of SWOG Executive Officer (EO) -- they are basically supposed to serve as facilitators and reporters to the Group Chair. This doesn't provide much detail, so I wanted to flesh this out for you. Currently, there are 4 main EO functions:

  • to facilitate scientific development within the Group,
  • to represent Group leadership in SWOG's Committees,
  • to represent SWOG's Committees within Group leadership forums, and
  • to advise the Group Chair.

In facilitating scientific development, our EOs advise their constituent committees on strategy, tactics, balance among competing priorities, and long-range vision. They promote innovation, champion young investigators and the inclusion of researchers from multiple disciplines, and help shepherd protocols through the development process. As significant players in SWOG's external interactions, they serve as key correspondents with NCI leaders and industry.

Within their committees, the EOs represent the Group leadership, ensuring policies and consistent practices are maintained, and communicating relevant information to committee leaders and members. Going the other way, they represent their committees within Group leadership forums, contributing to our regular Executive Review Committee ("triage") calls and other venues, advocating for their committees' priorities and needs, and providing regular progress reports to the Group Chair.

Their final general duties relate to counseling me, primarily through the Friday Executive Advisory Committee call. Specifically, they inform decision-making, serve as sounding boards for emerging ideas, and provide invaluable reality checks as needed. An additional related duty, exercised intensively over the last year and a half, is to assist in preparing Group grant applications.

More specific roles for select EOs include advocating for our community oncologists and their institutions, heading up quality assurance, overseeing our translational and international efforts, and representing Group non-medical oncologists.

I certainly couldn't function without them. The next time you see one of SWOG's Executive Officers, please say thanks!


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