Jul 21 2013

In Recognition of a Few “Undersung Heroes”

by at 10:04 pm under Uncategorized

I hope you have air conditioning that works, because it sure has been hot! Ours is working, though a pipe got so much condensation in our bedroom closet that water began dripping through a trap door. As you can imagine, there are no inexpensive solutions to that particular problem.

We have had a quiet weekend, but enjoyed a terrific (but very noisy) meal with some friends on Friday night at Le Diplomate. The fairly new and highly touted French Bistro on 14th Street Northwest is part of Stephen Starr’s expanding restaurant empire. If you go, I recommend reservations at 5 pm, before the ambient noise gets to jet engine level, or after 9 pm.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I spent two days reviewing applications for the National Clinical Trials Network, which will replace the existing cooperative group system. It was a grueling effort, and I was struck by the number of times I was actually in conflict because of Lombardi’s engagement in various clinical trial efforts. Coincidentally, I have been working on my sets of CCSG site visit slides. Lombardi is well represented on national clinical trial steering committees (Mike Atkins, Bruce Cheson, Beppe Giaccone, Claudine Isaacs, Sandy Swain), and six Lombardi investigators lead or have recently led eight separate national clinical trials (George Philips, Bruce Cheson, Jeanne Mandelblatt, Sandy Swain, Chaitra Ujjani, Mike Atkins). This is yet another example of Georgetown fighting above its weight. Many of us also attended Beppe Giaccone’s outstanding Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on Thursday morning. His work reminds us that the cutting edge of clinical research is squarely at the intersection of superb science and first-rate medicine.

In the course of preparing our CCSG application and the upcoming site visit, I become increasingly familiar with our fabulous shared resources and thought this would be an opportune time to give a shout out to some of Lombardi’s “undersung” heroes.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge Elizabeth Poggi’s outstanding work as manager of the Nontherapeutic Subject Registry (NTSR). This distinctive comprehensive cancer center initiative aims to increase accrual to nontherapeutic studies, and may one day provide a template for expanding our efforts to the therapeutic clinical trial arena.

Under her leadership, recruitment rates in 2012 increased from 1 patient/month to over 30 patients/month with the same number of recruiters.  The consent rate in the Ourisman Center, breast, and GI medical oncology clinics now averages 87%, and of those who consent 97-99% agree to be re-contacted and have their contact information released to investigators for eligible studies.  This has a powerful effect on our ability to do research. The number of patients consenting to blood and biospecimen collection is also very high.

Liz’s exceptional abilities in organization, leadership, and team building – not to mention her dedication and smarts – have been invaluable in driving the mission and success of the NTSR. I believe it has rapidly evolved into a model shared resource for the national cancer research community.

I also am very grateful to Clinton Finch for his superlative efforts to enter all of Lombardi’s therapeutic and non-therapeutic clinical trial information into the NCI’s CTRP (Clinical Trial Reporting Program), which places us in compliance with NCI-established standards. He has truly performed wonders to obtain all of the needed data, place it into the required formats, and enter it into the necessary databases. This is one of those “under the radar” Herculean efforts that make Lombardi’s work possible, and too frequently goes unrecognized and unappreciated in cancer centers. But, not here! Thanks to both of you for making a difference, and hats off to all of the wonderful people who make our shared resources work so wonderfully well. I look forward to future opportunities to acknowledge their fine work too.

Have a great week.


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