SWOG Update
August 5, 2009

all-in-one page for printing
Welcome to edition #1 of the SWOG Update.

For all members and friends of the Southwest Oncology Group, the SWOG Update will keep you informed of what's happening with the Group. News to report? Send it to communications@swog.org.

Chair's Corner  
Why we do what we do
Laurence H. Baker photo Our mission is straightforward: to make progress in the prevention and cure of cancer through clinical research. Our research objectives define how we work to accomplish our mission. [more]

Study Updates  

S0500: Counting CTCs to evaluate breast cancer treatment
How effective of a barometer is CTC level in measuring the efficacy of treatment in a clinical setting, and can that measurement be used to extend lives? [more]

cetuximab molecule S0819 adds a new drug to a standard lung cancer therapy
SWOG's newest study will compare outcomes for lung cancer patients given an accepted standard treatment to outcomes for patients given the same treatment plus cetuximab. [more]

In the News  
You, your colleagues, and your cooperative group in the media ...

SWOG Spotlight: Fall Meeting Plenary

The War on Cancer: Raise the bar, or move the goal line?

tumor genome visualization Visualization of MCF-7 genome depicting somatic breast tumor chromosomal rearrangements. (Hampton, et al. Genome Res. 2009 Feb; 19(2); 167-177. Used with permission.)
Are we settling for the costly, incremental victories of trench warfare in battling cancer? Or are we obsessed with curing the disease when we should be focused on helping patients live with it?

Both positions have been staked out in eloquent fashion in recent essays in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Nature.

Hear the authors of these essays address these questions at the plenary session of SWOG’s Fall Group Meeting in Chicago in October.

The speakers

David J. Stewart, M.D. David J. Stewart, M.D., is coauthor (with Razelle Kurzrock, M.D.) of the essay "Cancer: The Road to Amiens" in the January 20, 2009, issue of JCO.

Stewart and Kurzrock argue that progress against cancer has been slowed by setting the efficacy bar too low and the safety bar too high.

A low standard of success, they say, encourages researchers to go for the relatively easy money, impeding more meaningful progress. And because most victories bring only incremental improvement, they warrant only low levels of risk to patients.

To raise the efficacy bar (and indirectly lower the safety bar), the authors recommend a number of actions, including moving from large, randomized trials to many smaller, more targeted trials with more ambitious goals; using molecular and genetic profiling routinely when patients are first diagnosed to speed the matching of patients with studies that fit their profile; allowing greater flexibility in following trial protocols; and reducing the labyrinth of regulations to a few key guideposts.

Robert A. Gatenby, M.D. Robert A. Gatenby, M.D., is author of the essay "A change of strategy in the war on cancer" in the May 28, 2009, issue of Nature.

Gatenby applies lessons from evolutionary ecology and integrated pest management to the treatment of cancer.

Though we are unable to completely eradicate most invasive species, he points out, we have developed multi-faceted strategies to keep their spread in check and limit their damage to acceptable levels. The same model may prove effective against cancer.

He discusses the evolutionary dynamics of tumors, citing evidence that suggests that a full frontal assault on a tumor with high doses of chemotherapy, by killing most susceptible cells, allows resistant cells to grow unchecked, hastening the day when the chemotherapy weapons become dull and ineffective against a patient’s cancer.

Better to treat with regular, smaller doses of chemotherapy, he says, with the goal of an extended stalemate, keeping the tumor mass stable – and the patient alive – for as long as possible.

I. Craig Henderson, M.D. I. Craig Henderson, M.D., is a breast cancer clinician and researcher on faculty at the University of California – San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is president and CEO of Access Oncology, Inc., a New York based biopharmaceutical company focused on cancer treatment. He founded the Breast Evaluation Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh).

Henderson will strive to reconcile and make sense of Stewart’s and Gatenby’s views, and will add his own navigational clues on the direction forward in cancer research.

Ask your questions; have your say

A question and answer session will follow. The discussion promises to be lively. Don’t miss it!

Chair's Corner

Why we do what we do

Group Chair Laurence H. Baker, D.O.
Laurence H. Baker, D.O., SWOG Group Chair
Our mission is straightforward: to make progress in the prevention and cure of cancer through clinical research. Our objectives define how we, as the Southwest Oncology Group, work toward this mission.

Last year we revisited and modernized our research objectives, and I want to take a moment to share these with you. We just completed a visit to Bethesda to present our case for renewal of SWOG’s treatment grant before National Cancer Institute reviewers, and these objectives formed the framework of our presentation.

SWOG's research objectives

  1. To rapidly design, activate, complete, and report on scientifically important and clinically relevant cancer clinical trials.
  2. To lead and participate in intergroup studies.
  3. To develop and incorporate modern statistical methodology.
  4. To integrate relevant laboratory medicine in the design and conduct of our clinical trials, with emphasis upon the outstanding science originating at Cancer Centers and SPORE programs within our network.
  5. To foster and develop young investigators in the Southwest Oncology Group, who will be called upon to lead and sustain our mission in the long term.
  6. To conduct our studies with the highest of ethical standards, consistent with assuring public and regulatory agency confidence in our data.
  7. To engage all appropriate medical and scientific disciplines including pharmacy and nursing, as well as data managers, regulatory staff, and patient advocates in the design and conduct of our clinical trials.
  8. To minimize bias and prejudice in the design and conduct of our clinical trials with respect to gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, and other population characteristics.
  9. To dedicate resources so as to continually improve the quality of our data as judged by their users, including regulatory agencies.
  10. To work collaboratively with all cooperative groups and the representatives of the NCI toward advancing our joint purpose.

SWOG’s SWAT team: Fast-track approval for high priority trials

actual SWAT team in action w/ rifles w/ laser sights No sniper rifles or Kevlar vests, but the SWOG SWAT team has been in action.

SWAT, in this case, means SWOG Activation Team, a useful acronym for the group of participants and procedures assembled to fast-track the development of a new clinical trial protocol. The goal is to move high priority studies from concept to activation in record time.

The first protocols evaluated under this SWAT approach are now known as S0800, S0816, and S0819.

The concept that would become S0819 was first approved by the Group leadership in October of 2008. Nine months later, on July 15, 2009, this phase III trial opened to accrual of patients (see the S0819 study update). The 275-day development term for this protocol contrasts to the SWOG average of about 600 days.

S0816, a phase II advanced Hodgkin lymphoma study incorporating centralized review of PET scans to determine adaptation of treatment, opened July 1st. S0800, a neoadjuvant trial for breast cancer incorporating a centralized review of diffusion MRI scans, is expected to become active in September.

The key to keeping the SWAT process on track, says SWOG Protocol Product Line Manager Dana Sparks, M.A.T., is keeping everyone who must participate in the development and review process aware that the protocol is top priority. The group uses weekly conference calls to quickly identify and remove barriers to development to ensure that a protocol in motion remains in motion.

The SWAT treatment is reserved for protocols the Group leadership has identified as top strategic priority studies, generally phase III studies but randomized phase II study concepts may be fast-tracked as well.

In the case of S0816 and S0800, for example, submitting these two phase II protocols for ACT NOW funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 moved them near the top of the priority list for rapid development and authorization.

Committee chairs should keep the SWAT option in mind when proposing high priority studies. Kevlar is optional.

Timeline for the development of the protocol that would become SWOG 0819, the first phase III trial launched under the fast-track SWAT process.

Open for business: SWOG Clinical Trials Initiative

-- by Laura Jacquez, administrative and financial coordinator, SWOG Clinical Trials Initiative (SWOG-CTI)

What is SWOG-CTI?

SWOG-Clinical Trials Initiative logo
SWOG - Clinical Trials Initiative, or SWOG-CTI, is a 501(c)(3) limited liability company housed within The Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG).

Our mission at SWOG-CTI is identical to SWOG’s: to make progress in the prevention and cure of cancer through clinical research. We were created as an independent non-profit to allow the Group to receive and distribute supplemental funds from non-federal sources to support that mission.

In the past, if your institution received such supplemental funds to support SWOG clinical trials, those funds came to you from the SWOG Operations Office in San Antonio, Texas. This funding is now managed by SWOG-CTI out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

To receive funds from SWOG-CTI

In January 2009, we sent the principal investigator (PI) for each SWOG site a new SWOG-CTI purchase service agreement (PSA). Sites that wish to continue to receive industry funding for participation in SWOG trials must complete this new PSA, which is in addition to a site’s federal-funding PSA already in place with SWOG. Approximately 50% of SWOG sites have responded thus far.

If your institution hasn’t yet responded but would like to work with SWOG-CTI, have your PI verify the list of investigators that accompanied the new PSA and return a signed copy of the PSA to the address provided. If you have not received a PSA, please contact me at ljacquez@swogcti.org or (734) 998-6890.

Payment Scenarios

At this time, there are several scenarios in which SWOG-CTI will distribute funds to investigators:
  1. For SWOG-initiated clinical trials with National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding, SWOG-CTI may obtain and distribute additional funding. This would be a supplement to cover clinical trial costs incurred by an investigator or institution, and would be in addition to the NCI funding an investigator gets from SWOG’s U10 grant or an institutional U10 grant. Typical credits would apply to patient registration.
  2. SWOG-CTI may be the sole sponsor of a SWOG clinical trial. This would be a study the NCI chose not to fund, and therefore wouldn’t be eligible for per capita reimbursement or credit from U10 grants. In such a situation, we would provide an investigator or institution the entire payment for clinical trial registration.
  3. SWOG-CTI may distribute research-related funds to SWOG investigators for their contributions to clinical trial or translational medicine components unrelated to their institution’s trial enrollment. An example of this scenario would be payments for specimen analysis funded through non-federal sources.

S0702 leads the way

The first SWOG-CTI funded study is S0702, "A Prospective Observational Multicenter Cohort Study to Assess the Incidence of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) in Cancer Patients with Bone Metastases Starting Zoledronic Acid Treatment," which opened mid-December 2008. Funding for S0702 is available through cancer control credits for SWOG CCOP sites, and through pharmaceutical funding via SWOG-CTI. As is the case with all SWOG trials, once a study is open, details regarding payment can be found in the funding memorandum via swog.org.

Laura Jacquez, administrative and financial coordinator, SWOG Clinical Trials Initiative (SWOG-CTI)
If you have questions or comments about SWOG-CTI, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact me, Laura Jacquez, administrative and financial coordinator, at ljacquez@swogcti.org or at (734) 998-6890.

Study Updates

S0500: Counting CTCs to evaluate the effectiveness of first-line chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment

Researchers have shown that women with metastatic breast cancer who have elevated levels of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) after starting therapy are likely on a treatment that is not working. Such women have an extremely short time to progression, a median time of just 1.5 months, and they are at very high risk of early death compared to women with low numbers of CTCs.

photo of Daniel Hayes, M.D., and Jeffrey Smerage, M.D., Ph.D. Daniel Hayes, M.D., (left) and Jeffrey Smerage, M.D., Ph.D., study coordinators of S0500 (Photo: UMHS)
These data suggest that the chemotherapy these women are on is not controlling their cancer and that they would be better served by switching to an alternate therapy immediately rather than waiting for signs of clinical progression before making the switch.

In this phase III study, breast cancer patients who at their first follow-up visit have elevated levels of CTCs will be randomized either to continue their current chemotherapy or to make an early switch to an alternate, potentially more effective therapy.

The study is essentially testing how effective a barometer CTC level is in measuring the efficacy of treatment in a clinical setting, and whether that measurement can be used to extend lives.

"We believe that identifying elevated circulating tumor cells will help us detect which patients are on ineffective therapy," says Jeffrey Smerage, M.D., of the University of Michigan, who is heading the study.

"The point of this trial is to determine if switching to a different, potentially beneficial chemotherapy regimen immediately, rather than waiting for clinical evidence of progression, will be better for them. Chemotherapies have many side effects that can significantly affect the patient’s quality of life. In addition, these side effects are generally cumulative and make the patient’s body less tolerant of future treatments. It is hoped that by switching early these patients will suffer fewer side effects from ineffective chemotherapies and spend more time on effective therapies."

For this work, Dr. Smerage was selected as a SWOG Young Investigator in 2004.

S0500 is actively accruing and has reached about half of its total accrual goal thus far. The trial is currently active at 176 SWOG institutions.

Women with histologically confirmed breast cancer and clinical evidence of Stage IV disease who have not had any prior chemotherapy for metastatic disease may be eligible. Please review the detailed eligibility criteria.

Eligible patients can find the nearest participating institution online or by contacting the Southwest Oncology Group at (210) 614-8808 or at protocols@swog.org.

schematic of S0500 protocol

Study Updates

Newly activated S0819 will test adding new drug to a standard lung cancer therapy

SWOG’s newest study, and the first phase III study to be rolled out via the Group’s fast-track SWAT process (see SWAT story), is activated as of July 15, 2009 (though as of this writing it was still awaiting its first site IRB approval).

chemical structure of cetuximab Chemical structure of cetuximab. S0819 will test its effectiveness as part of a lung cancer treatment regimen. (Image: www.drugbank.ca)
This study will compare outcomes for lung cancer patients given an accepted standard treatment (either carboplatin and paclitaxel or carboplatin, pacitaxel, and bevacizumab) and patients given the same treatment plus an additional drug – cetuximab.

The endpoints to be compared are overall survival (OS) with or without cetuximab in the entire study population and progression-free survival (PFS) in EGFR FISH-positive patients.

This intergroup study, titled "A Randomized, Phase III Study Comparing Carboplatin/Paclitaxel or Carboplatin/Paclitaxel/Bevacizumab with or without Concurrent Cetuximab in Patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)," builds on S0342 and S0536.

Study coordinators are Roy S. Herbst, M.D., Ph.D, Edward Kim, M.D., David R. Gandara, M.D., and Fred R. Hirsch, M.D., Ph.D.

All SWOG member and affiliate institutions, Community Clinical Oncology Programs (CCOPs), and other U.S. institutions within the NCI’s Clinical Trials Support Unit (CTSU) are eligible to participate. Full board review is required for initial activation, should your institution choose to participate.

Cancer patients who have been diagnosed with Stage IV, advanced primary non-small cell lung cancer or recurrent disease after previous surgery and/or irradiation and who have measurable or non-measurable disease documented by CT or MRI may be eligible to participate in this trial.

Please review the detailed eligibility criteria.

Eligible patients can find the nearest participating institution online or by contacting the Southwest Oncology Group at (210) 614-8808 or at protocols@swog.org.

Spring Group Meeting

Three intense days in San Francisco

The Southwest Oncology Group’s 2009 Spring Group Meeting was held in San Francisco in late April.

See the Crush the Crab winners from the Spring 2009 Group Meeting.
Fall 2009 Group Meeting registration opens Aug. 18
The meeting’s plenary session opened with a preview of the Group’s NCI treatment grant renewal presentation by Group Chair Laurence Baker, D.O. A recording of this presentation is on the SWOG Web site, as is the research plan from the treatment grant renewal application.

Additional plenary presentations (see box at right) included three abstracts that had been accepted for the ASCO 2009 meeting.

Highlighted below are just some of the many presentations that were given over the course of three densely packed days.

The Early Therapeutics Subcommittee heard an extended presentation from Giovanni Melillo, M.D., of the NCI Center for Cancer Research, on hypoxia and the tumor microenvironment. They also had updates on several studies, including news of an abstract from S0528 that had been accepted for presentation at ASCO 2009, and news on S0711, a phase I trial of dasatinib in patients with impaired hepatic function, which was awaiting IRB approvals but was otherwise ready to start accruing patients (approvals have since been issued at at least four institutions).

The Cancer Control and Prevention Committees heard presentations on the closing out of the SELECT trial and on S0820, a protocol now awaiting final review that would test the value of eflornithine and sulindac in preventing disease recurrence in colorectal cancer patients. Ideas for future studies considered included proposals on the feasibility of prescribing exercise in breast cancer patients, on the effectiveness of omega-3 acids in reducing inflammation and joint pain as treatment side effects, on the use of mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and depression in cancer patients, and on the use of focalin to ease chemotherapy after-effects.

A meeting of the Group’s committee chairs discussed experiences with the new CTEP Steering Committee reviews and heard a presentation from the Pharmaceutical Sciences Committee on a database of investigational drugs for SWOG investigators that is now in development.

The Nursing Committee held a workshop on gastrointestinal malignancies and treatment, featuring presentations on colorectal and pancreatic carcinomas and a presentation on biomarkers and anti-cancer therapy by Siu-Fun Wong, Pharm.D. Rose Mary Padberg, R.N., M.A., of the National Cancer Institute presented on best practices in recruiting patients to trials.

The new SWOG Patient Advocates heard Protocol Manager Dana Sparks, M.A.T., give an overview of the protocol development process. Patient Advocates are assigned to individual Disease Committees and represent the patient’s perspective in reviewing new protocols in development. Serious Adverse Events Manager and Web Manager Nickey McCasland, R.N., M.H.A., also gave Advocates an overview of the development of a patient section for the SWOG Web site.

The Clinical Research Associate (CRA) Open Forum covered much ground, including updates on the new Clinical Trials Support Unit’s (CTSU’s) Oncology Patient Enrollment Network, or OPEN, expected to be available for use later this summer. CRA Chair Sue Majeski, C.C.R.P., also presented on the CRA committee structure.

The Gynecologic Committee heard a proposal for joining a corporate-supported study with AGO, the largest gynecologic oncology study group in Germany.

The Translational Medicine Committee Symposium featured Frank Meyskens Jr., M.D., and Christine Ambrosone, Ph.D., speaking on building bridges between the Cancer Control, Molecular Epidemiology, and Translational Medicine committees and on the goal of integrating prevention research into the fabric of SWOG.

A post-Meeting meeting on SWOG’s Latin America Initiative brought together some of the SWOG leadership with several NCI staff and oncologists from the Society of Latin American and Caribbean Medical Oncology (SLACOM), representing a number of countries in Central and South America.

SWOG is conducting a Gates Foundation-funded trial of several drug treatment approaches to reduce the prevalence of gastric cancers in Latin America by eradicating the bacterium helicobacter pylori.

Meeting attendees discussed possibilities for expanding the international cooperation now taking place as part of the h. pylori trial and about the creation of a clinical trials network that could potentially encompass the entire hemisphere.

Many resources from the Spring Group Meeting are available online:

San Francisco bay

Spring Group Meeting

Whether running or walking, Crush the Crab

The Crush the Crab 5K run at the Spring Group Meeting in San Francisco included a new feature for those of us more easily winded: a one-kilometer walk.

"The new 1K walk option opens up the event to almost everyone at the Group Meetings," says Group Chair Laurence Baker, D.O.

No mistake about it, though, the winners in San Francisco ran. The race went to these swift:
(Click on a photo to enlarge.)

Crush the Crab winners: Men – 40 and under:
1st:: Douglas Nelson, M.D.
2nd: Brad McGregor, M.D.
3rd: Khanh Bui
Crush the Crab winners: Women – 40 and under:
1st: Sharon Giordano, M.D.
2nd: Johanna Horn, M.S.W.
3rd: Tanya Brubaker, R.N.

Crush the Crab winners: Men – 41-54:
1st: Peter Van Veldhuizen, M.D.
2nd: Harry Erba, M.D., Ph.D.
3rd: Daruka Mahadevan, M.D., Ph.D.

Crush the Crab winners: Women – 41-54:
1st: Karen Hueftle
2nd: Diann Fischesser, R.N., M.S.N.
3rd: Maria Elena Martinez, Ph.D.

Crush the Crab winners: Men – 55 and over:
1st: James Hueftle, M.D.
2nd: Louis Fehrenbacher, M.D.
3rd: Benjamin Marchello, M.D.

Crush the Crab winners: Women – 55 and over:
1st: Elaine Armstrong, M.S.
2nd: Sheela Tejwani, M.D.
3rd: Julie Kish, M.D.

New committee chairs: Thompson for GU, Kurzrock for Early Therapeutics

Ian Thompson, M.D. Ian Thompson, M.D., Chair, SWOG Genitourinary Committee (Photo: UTHSC)
Ian Thompson, M.D., who had been serving as interim chair of SWOG’s Genitourinary Committee, was formally appointed as chair of that committee this spring.

Thompson is chair of the Department of Urology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, where he holds the Glenda and Gary Woods Distinguished Chair in GU Oncology and the
Henry B. and Edna Smith Dielman Memorial Chair in Urologic Science. He also serves as chair of the Residency Review Committee for Urology and vice-chair of the Early Detection Research Network of the National Cancer Institute.

Thompson was principal study coordinator on the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and is principal investigator of the San Antonio Centers for Biomarkers of Risk of Prostate Cancer (SABOR).

Razelle Kurzrock, M.D. Razelle Kurzrock, M.D., Chair, SWOG Early Therapeutics Subcommittee (Photo: MDACC)
Razelle Kurzrock, M.D., is the new chair of SWOG's Early Therapeutics Subcommittee.

Currently housed within the Translational Medicine Committee, this subcommittee is charged with developing and integrating early therapeutics into disease-specific clinical trials research, a key aspect of SWOG’s translational research strategy.

Kurzrock is founding chair of the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics and director of the Phase I Program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she has been on staff for twenty-five years and where she previously served as chief of the Section of Cytokines in the Department of Bioimmunotherapy. She is also director of the Human Biology and Patient-Based Research Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

SWOG welcomes new chief of administration

Nathan Eriksen Nathan Eriksen, chief of administration for SWOG (Photo: Jay Jackson)

He’s been on board for a while, now, but in case you haven’t yet met him, Nathan Eriksen is the Southwest Oncology Group’s new(ish) chief of administration. He joined SWOG following a national search last summer, stepping into the newly formed position in the Group Chair’s office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Nathan has had a 28-year career with the University of Michigan, most recently serving for 14 years as chief administrator of the University’s School of Information.

Under the direction of the Group Chair, he has responsibility for all administrative activities within the Group and its ancillary activities, with key administrators from each of the Group offices reporting to him. He can be reached through the Group Chair’s office at (734) 998-7140 or at eriksen@umich.edu.

Who's new?

SWOG welcomes our newest institutional members:
  • Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX
    • PI: Alan M. Miller, Ph.D., M.D.
    • Head CRA: Elaine Lagow, R.N.
  • BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    • PI: Charles D. Blanke, M.D.
    • Head CRA: Christina R. Chandra
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
    • PI: Ronald B. Natale, M.D.
  • FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst, NC

Hope Foundation invites fellowship program applications

The Hope Foundation
The Hope Foundation invites applications from investigators for several fellowships. Deadlines are at the end of August.

Dr. Charles A. Coltman Jr. Fellowship Program

This program is meant to engage outstanding young investigators from SWOG member institutions in independent research, while honoring the retirement of long time SWOG chair and leader, Dr. Charles A. Coltman Jr. Each year a $100,000 fellowship, intended primarily for salary support over two years, will be presented to one successful candidate.

This program funds investigators from a current SWOG member institution who have accepted a faculty position. Institutions may nominate up to two candidates annually. Each candidate must have a mentorship arrangement with a notable Group leader who has proven expertise in clinical trials recruitment and management.

An independent panel of SWOG leaders will review applications and select the recipients. The program requires detailed annual progress reports on how the fellow has used the funding to further his or her cancer clinical research.

Applications are due to The Hope Foundation by August 31, 2009. Application forms and program details (PDF) may be downloaded from the Foundation’s Web site. Direct inquiries to Johanna (Jo) Horn at (734) 998-7150 or jrhorn@umich.edu.

This program is generously sponsored with a lead gift from Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Charles A. Coltman Jr., M.D., Fellowship in Translational Medicine

An extension of the clinical Coltman Fellowship program, the Fellowship Program in Translational Medicine is built on Dr. Coltman’s longstanding commitment to promoting the impact of research from bench to bedside, directly applying important findings to improve patient care.

This program similarly supports investigators from a current SWOG member institution who have accepted a faculty position, with institutions able to nominate up to two candidates annually. The applicant must have a mentorship arrangement with a notable Group leader who has proven expertise in translational medicine research and clinical trials recruitment and management.

The fellowship provides $100,000 over two years and requires annual detailed progress reports on how the funding has contributed to the fellow’s translational medicine knowledge and initiatives.

An independent panel of SWOG leadership will select the fellow. Application forms and program details (PDF) may be downloaded from the Foundation’s Web site. Applications are due by August 31, 2009.

This program is generously sponsored with a lead gift from Genentech BioOncology.

Aventis Urologic Fellowships

The Aventis Fellowship supports urologists finishing their residency who wish to pursue a fellowship in genitourinary oncology with an emphasis on clinical trials research. The applicant must have a mentor who is active in SWOG’s Genitourinary (GU) Committee and has proven expertise in clinical trials recruitment and management. The targeted program must be multi-disciplinary.

The fellowship provides $50,000 for a one-year fellowship, and two awards will be granted. Each fellow must file a progress report at the end of the year.

Interested institutions should submit a two-page application detailing the objectives of the program, resources available to the fellow, an outline of the fellowship program, and the name of the fellow if available. Please submit applications to David P. Wood Jr., M.D., by e-mail at davwood@med.umich.edu by September 1, 2009.

Awards will be announced during the GU Committee session at the SWOG Fall Group Meeting, October 22 – 24th in Chicago.

Funding opportunities, deadlines, and updates

Clock's ticking: Upcoming deadlines

  • Aug. 14: SWOG Translational Medicine Development Fund
  • Aug. 31: Coltman Fellowship
  • Aug. 31: Coltman Translational Medicine Fellowship
  • Sep. 1: Aventis Urologic Fellowship

Translational Science Award application deadline is August 14

DNA print
SWOG's Translational Medicine Committee has launched the Translational Medicine Development Fund to support novel translational research that uses SWOG tissues or other resources.

The purpose of the Fund is to help harmonize the Group, cancer centers, and SPOREs, while fostering the development of creative trial capsules and protocols.

Awards will be made through a competitive, peer-review process. Individual projects may be funded for up to $175,000 per year for a period of one to three years.

Read the RFA to learn more (PDF).

NCI RFAs for funding

The NCI Early Detection Research Network has posted several Requests for Applications for funding:

NIH peer review scoring guidelines updated

This past spring the NIH announced a revised scoring procedure for evaluating research funding applications for FY2010. The new system uses a 1 – 9 scale (1 being "exceptional") rather than the old 1 – 5 system. Note that this new system is being applied to all applications for ARRA-related funding.

Learn more about the updated NIH peer review process.

photo of newsstand

In the news

You, your colleagues, and your cooperative group in the media ...

JNCI paper on racial disparities resonates
Media venues from the Washington Post to Voice of America found something to report on in a SWOG study on the sources of racial disparities in cancer outcomes. SWOG investigators quoted include Kathy Albain, M.D., Joe Unger, M.S., Dawn Hershman, M.D., Ph.D., and Frank Meyskens, M.D. Below is a selection of media outlets that covered the study, with links to their stories. You can also read the press release.
Gralow on the radio from ASCO 2009

Durie in Modern Medicine

NCI Cancer Bulletin on SWOG-8794 follow-up

Been interviewed or cited in the media for a SWOG study recently? Let us know: communications@swog.org or (734) 998-0114.

Newsstand photo: stretchdog / CC BY-NC 2.0

Did you know . . . ?

Annual accrual to SWOG-sponsored treatment trials increased by 36% from 2006 to 2008, climbing from 3,920 to 5,337. Current projections for 2009 show accrual surpassing the 6,000 mark.

SWOG accrual graph from 2004 (4,542) to 2009 projected (6,552)
Source: SWOG site visit presentation to NIH, July 2009

News to me: An editor's request

I'm Frank DeSanto, new communications and public relations manager for the Southwest Oncology Group, and editor of SWOG Update.

Please send me your SWOG news items, both those specifically for Group audiences and those for the wider world. If you have a trial you would like to see featured, let me know.

And if you’ve regularly got news to convey to your professional colleagues within SWOG – to other CRAs or nurses, for example – let me help get the word out.

In addition to spreading word of SWOG accomplishments to the public and Group news to the SWOG community, I’ll be working on initiatives to enhance patient accrual and to make our Patient Advocates program as valuable and effective as possible.

My matchbook bio: I’ve been based at the University of Michigan for the last 18 years, first as a graduate student, then as a lecturer, contractor, and most recently, staff member. Prior to that time I spent half a dozen years working in educational publishing in New York.

You can contact me at (734) 998-0114 or at fdesanto@umich.edu.

Got news to tell? Send it to communications@swog.org.