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The Front Line


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

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SWOG Leadership Academy Lift Off

January 13, 2017 - It’s a new year, and I am happy to announce we are launching a new program. We’ve been working long and hard on it, and it’s one I really believe in. The SWOG Leadership Academy, an intensive training and career development course for young investigators, is officially taking applications.

The Leadership Academy is a natural progression of SWOG’s strong belief that we need to support our early career investigators. Our current Young Investigator Course gives our future leaders an introduction to SWOG and the protocol development process. We also, with the help of The Hope Foundation, offer a variety of research grants and fellowships to further help with specific projects they envision.

The Leadership Academy takes it all a step further by giving young investigators interested in leadership in SWOG (and eventually other groups in the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network) skills to build a successful research career focusing on the cooperative group system.

On April 29, immediately following our group meeting in San Francisco, we’ll hold an all-day course for participants, led by senior staff and members of SWOG’s executive team. We’ll cover the structure of SWOG and the NCTN – and how to navigate both. We’ll talk about how to develop SWOG trials, including oversight, accrual, data analysis, and publication. We’ll also talk about how to fund those trials, and give an overview of the Hope grant portfolio. We’ll discuss the leadership positions available in the NCTN and at NCI and the skill set needed to succeed. Finally, we’ll also host a panel of executive officers, who’ll discuss their personal leadership journeys.

Mentoring will be the real secret to the academy’s success. In San Francisco, participants will be paired with a SWOG leader who will offer guidance during regular conference calls, as well as face-to-face sessions at our group meetings, for all three years of the program.

Other leadership courses exist, but ours should have the greatest depth and breadth for those interested in the cooperative group system. There are many people to thank for the idea, and I would be remiss not to call out Dr. David Gandara, the program chair. The academy has the hallmarks of Dr. Gandara’s own excellent leadership in SWOG.

Eight to 12 participants will be selected, with applications due Feb. 1. There’s already interest, so please apply soon – or send this email to a young SWOG member with leadership potential. Eligibility and other details may be found here.

I continue to believe the NCTN is a great place to hold an academic career. The Leadership Academy serves as a capstone of SWOG’s commitment to securing a bright future for publicly funded cancer clinical trials, and it’s a really great way to ring in the new year.

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