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

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Meet the EO: Dr. Lisa Kachnic

March 3, 2017 - This is part of an occasional Front Line series profiling SWOG's executive officers, which I hope will give you some insight into why I selected each to be part of my leadership team. This week, I feature Dr. Lisa Kachnic, executive officer for multimodality research.

Medical oncologists make up a majority of SWOG's investigator members. But other specialists – such as surgeons, radiologists, and radiation oncologists – also play critical roles in cancer care and research. SWOG executive officer Dr. Lisa A. Kachnic represents these members and ensures that the full range of oncology professionals have a seat at the SWOG table, overseeing multimodality research in these important disciplines.

Dr. Kachnic is perfect for this demanding job. She is loyal, indefatigable, and visionary. She is also well connected. In October, Dr. Kachnic, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, was elected president of the American Board of Radiology. In this leadership position, she oversees the organization that certifies radiology professionals and provides for their continuing education. It is work that's lasting – as are her contributions to SWOG. One example: This spring, at our group meeting in San Francisco, she's co-leading a special symposium on radiation oncology that will set the long-term direction of our research.

Dr. Kachnic first came to SWOG in 2000, just four years out of her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Kachnic was the new chief of radiation oncology at Boston University Medical Center, a primary SWOG site. She became active in our group right away, joining the gastrointestinal steering committee, which is where I met her. Over time, she became vice chair of the SWOG radiation oncology committee, then co-chair of the ano-rectal section of the GI committee. Now she's an executive officer overseeing the long-standing radiation oncology and surgery committees, and the relatively newer imaging and transplant committees. Her EO role is three-fold – providing quality assurance on protocols that include different modalities, bringing the best science from these specialties into the disease committees, and nurturing young investigators in these areas.

To Dr. Kachnic, it's her role as mentor that is most gratifying. Dr. Kachnic has shaped the careers of dozens of young SWOG investigators, including a Coltman Fellow, and says it's why she has stayed active in the group for 17 years.

"It's great to see the residents and young attendings who circle back, years later, when they're running their own national trials, and give me a big hug of thanks,” she says. "Seeing the trajectory of a career, and being a part of it, is especially rewarding. It's really all about achieving the best cancer outcomes in our research. With mentoring, you also get to pay it forward for the good of all our patients and their families.”

Please feel free to contact Dr. Kachnic with questions in her areas at (615) 343-9244.

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