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The Front Line


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

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Proposed New Status for SWOG Committees

October 7, 2016 - In Chicago, I presented to the Board of Governors and our committee chairs on proposed changes to our committee structure. The BOG voted for a couple of them (see below), and the other suggestions will be brought back for ratification at our spring meeting. Don’t yawn! While the moves appear minor, they make a big statement about our priorities and our future. These changes go beyond mere nomenclature to address how we meet our core mission: improving the lives of those touched by cancer through the conduct of clinical trials.

Our committee structure needs improvement. We have too many different types of administrative committees. Our structure on the NCTN and NCORP sides doesn't match up. Finally, it isn't clear whether all committees can run trials as a primary function.

So I've been working with my leadership team on the issue. Here are committee changes I asked for at our fall meeting last month, and what the BOG approved:

• Recruitment and retention was promoted to a full and permanent research support committee. In addition, their charge was expanded. Now the committee will not only advise my leadership team on how to better recruit and retain minority patients to SWOG trials, but also how to better recruit and retain minority SWOG members and leaders. These changes were made to reflect one of our guiding principles: having diversity in membership and leadership.

• Membership, a committee of one (thank you, Dr. James Wieck), is now a subcommittee of professional review, which seems to be quite a good fit.

Other changes are still being discussed, such as modifications of committees organized by discipline or modality, such as radiation therapy, surgical oncology, and transplant. We also have to better define the function of the research support committees, including but not limited to the patient advocate, pharmaceutical sciences, and adolescent and young adult committees. The aim is to clarify, then appropriately group, committees that are largely administrative into one category and those more directly focused on the conduct of our research into another.

We made some associated changes to our leadership. For example, Executive Officer Dr. Craig Nichols will now oversee the research support committee portfolio, as well as member engagement, which is overseen in our San Antonio operations office.

These changes will help us operate more efficiently and cooperatively. Stay tuned about the rest!

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