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

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SWOG 101: How do SWOG investigators and other members engage one another?

Apr 4, 2014 - Enhancing engagement has been high on my priority list since becoming SWOG Chair -- specifically, increasing contributions to Group activities (including research), collaboration, and even trial participation by potential patients. For example, within our specialty areas, we've taken steps to ensure committees regularly touch base by holding calls or meeting face-to-face. We've also established the Scientific Leadership Forum (SLF), which engages Committee Chairs and other leadership from across SWOG in a monthly conference call that has been a great forum for sharing scientific or even administrative lessons learned across sites.

We also encourage all committee leaders to have regular meetings with their counterparts in other cooperative groups, and we will put our money (through HOPE) where our mouth is, when it comes to cross-group engagement. One of the initiatives we've discussed for some time is the idea of holding regular "pan-group" meetings. These would not simply bring together the Group Chairs from all of the cooperative groups; that has happened regularly for years. Instead, the proposed meeting would assemble in a central location leadership of initially disease/research, patient advocacy, and select modality and administrative (e.g., AYA) committees with their counterparts from each of the other Groups. If successful, we will roll this out onto the "NCORP" side of SWOG and the NCTN as well. The first of these pan-group meetings is now on the calendar, scheduled for September 19-20, 2014, in Chicago. Those expected to engage in that meeting will be getting more details shortly.

Sometimes we are (pleasantly!) surprised by the interest in participation in SWOG activities. We learned this week that registration for the spring meeting is up almost 20 percent as compared to this time last year, and we have already used more than 90 percent of the rooms in our pre-reserved block, a figure we haven't reached before in recent memory. While I like to think the jump in meeting attendance reflects well on its value, I do recognize it leaves a number of our members scrambling for alternate lodging, as Wednesday and Thursday are now completely sold out at the Hyatt. I apologize for this lack of rooms, and we have posted a list of nearby alternates on the website. Rest assured we are already planning for increased attendance at future meetings, so that we don't inconvenience you again.

On a final note, TM Vice Chair Dr. Lee Ellis has contributed to the success of our meeting through piloting a second plenary session and by starting "office hours," opportunities for meeting attendees to talk with experts from our basic science centers and disease and research committees. We are expanding this engagement opportunity to include meeting times with senior SWOG administrative staff (for example, if members had payment questions), and a few of our industry partners. Visit the meeting website to learn more.


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