Largest ASCO Research Community Forum Annual Meeting to Date Facilitated Meaningful Discussion on Conducting Clinical Trials

September 28, 2018

The ASCO Research Community Forum (RCF) 2018 Annual Meeting brought together 159 physician investigators and research staff from 34 states across the country—its largest meeting to-date—to discuss contemporary challenges and develop creative solutions in conducting and managing clinical trials. The meeting, held annually at ASCO's headquarters in the Washington DC Metro area, spanned two days from September 23-24, with a theme of Innovative Solutions. Best Practices. Excellence in Cancer Research.

Day one of the meeting began with welcoming remarks from the ASCO RCF Steering Group Chair, Edward S. Kim, MD, FACP, where he greeted a diverse mix of participants, including both physicians and non-physicians from academic centers, community practices, government, and industry.

The focus of the first day was a workshop “The Business of Clinical Trials – Optimizing Clinical Trial Sites and Implementing Best Practices” The opening session, "Optimizing Clinical Trial Sites: Building an Effective Research Program," delivered by David Waterhouse, MD, MPH of Oncology Hematology Care, Inc., and Daniel Flora, MD, PharmD of St. Elizabeth Cancer Center, covered their career experiences of how they have built research programs. They delivered practical tips on how to build and grow a thriving research program through case studies and sharing experiences.

This was followed by a session packed with resources and first-hand insight on "Research Program Operations: Running an Effective Clinical Trial Program." Led by health care research compliance expert Kelly Willenberg, DBA, MBA, BSN, CHRC, CHC, CCRP of Kelly Willenberg and Associates, the session featured panelists from the National Cancer Institute, UNC Chapel Hill’s REX Cancer Center, and Christiana Care Health Services. Participants learned practical strategies and best practices related to research program operations and running effective clinical trial programs. A toolkit was provided that included resources for staff retention, team training and monitoring, protocol management, quality assurance, and clinical trial awareness and communication.

Day two began with a keynote address from ASCO President-Elect, Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO. Dr. Burris discussed the importance of innovation and excellence in clinical research and the value of strategic collaborations and community-based research and shared results from recent key studies that have important implications for developing effective clinical trials. Attendees then heard from five panels with a variety of experts and stakeholders in clinical trial research including those from FDA, several clinical sites, industry, and Clinical Research Associates. Panel discussions included:

  1. Making the Clinical Trial Enterprise More Efficient
  2. Standardizing Site Qualifications to Reduce Site Burden
  3. Current Issues in Health Policy Related to Cancer Research
  4. Raising Clinical Trial Awareness, Increasing Participation, and Expediting Accrual
  5. Research Considerations for New Therapies: CAR T-Cell, Check Point Inhibitors, and Beyond

Breakout sessions on day two also provided an opportunity for participants to brainstorm their own solutions to challenges. This smaller group setting facilitated meaningful discussion on improving access to clinical trials for underserved populations, reducing the burden of adverse event reporting, standardizing site qualification criteria, and effective ways to connect the research community.

This year’s meeting doesn’t end with its adjournment. Participants will now bring home many resources and to share with their colleagues, continue the discussions that took place at the meeting, and implement some of the strategies and ideas shared over the two days.

Be sure to save the date for next year’s meeting, September 22-23, 2019, at ASCO’s headquarters in the DC Metro area. Register early as space will be limited!

Members of the research community can access resources developed by the Research Community Forum year-round to address challenges they may be facing including the ASCO Insurance Coverage of Clinical Trials Tool, ASCO Research Program Quality Assessment Tool, ASCO Clinical Trial Workload Assessment Tool, and a Clinical Trial Resource Library. 

Stay tuned to ASCO in Action and the ASCO RCF Annual Meeting web page for updates and announcements on the RCF 2019 Annual Meeting and new resources for research sites. Those interested in learning more about clinical trial challenges and best practices and highlights from the meeting can attend an upcoming webinar. Stay tuned to the website for dates.