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

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SWOG 101: How We Make a Variety of Decisions

Jan 24, 2014 - Decision-making functions in many organizations tend to be pretty opaque. You are all generally familiar with the scientific processes of our Group, but in the interest of greater transparency, I offer more information on those functions, as well as insights into how SWOG leadership decisions are made.

How We Decide Which Committee Study Proposals to Pursue:
Go/no-go decisions for proposed trial capsules are made based on scoring by the Executive Review Committee (ERC), which is comprised of Group senior leadership (Chair, Deputy-, Vice- and Associate Chairs, and the Group Statistician), the Executive Officers, the Deputy Director of the Stats Center, our Banking Director, and a patient advocate. Other experts are brought in as needed to advise or explain, in a non-voting fashion, as are our SWOG senior administrative personnel. Capsule proposals are presented by the Study Chair with input from the appropriate Committee Chair, followed by adequate Q and A time. Confidential discussion is held within the ERC to review the merit and feasibility of each proposal, and ERC members score each concept using the NIH's grant system. Capsules rated as very good or better move on within the Group and NCI. Additional scoring, used for awarding non-Federal internal grants, may be performed.

How We Select Disease and Research and Cancer Control Committee Chairs:
The Group Chair appoints Committee Chairs from the top candidates identified by a formal SWOG search committee. These search committees are populated by another SWOG Committee Chair, the appropriate Executive Officer, and representatives from outside the Group, Stats, patient advocacy, and another SWOG research committee. The Group Chair interviews the recommended candidates and makes a decision in consultation with his or her senior advisors, also taking the search committee's advice on "top-choice" strongly into account.

How We Select Group-Level Senior Leadership:
The procedure for selecting Group Deputy-, Vice-, or Associate Chairs, and Executive Officers, is equally consultative. This process does not, however, usually involve a formal search committee, though experts are convened to identify and propose strong candidates. The Group Chair's choices are vetted through the Executive Advisory Committee.

Stay tuned for an equally exciting follow-up column detailing policy and administrative decisions, as well as SWOG's means of conflict resolution.


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