April 2, 2020, 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Dear Members of ECOG-ACRIN:
We are writing to inform you of a change in plans that has been forced on us by the accelerating pandemic. We had planned to conduct a virtual meeting at the time of the now-canceled April meeting (April 29-May 1, 2020). Clearly events have overtaken us, and the dynamics of the pandemic have become more evident in recent days. Across much of the country’s urban areas, especially on the East Coast and Midwest, models predict the peak surge to be in the window end-April to early May, right when we would be airing meeting content. It is impossible for us, in good conscience, to burden our investigators with the responsibility of managing and preparing for a virtual meeting in the midst of all this turbulence and associated stress. We just hope for the continuing health of our membership as they, along with other medical specialties, navigate these perilous clinical waters. So, with regret, we will have no April 29th – May 1st, 2020 ECOG-ACRIN Group Meeting to mark this Spring meeting time.
This does not at all mean that activities in the Group have been suspended – far from it. Committees continue to meet (virtually) on their regular schedules, new proposals continue to be deliberated, refined, and moved forward if appropriate. Studies continue to be activated – in most institutions the regulatory and contract specialists are working from home, and happy to keep our studies moving forward. At many institutions, activation of new studies has been suspended, but a substantial proportion recognize the importance of the ECOG-ACRIN research options for patient care. Accrual is down, more for screening than therapeutic studies, but we expect that it will recover quickly as the pandemic wanes.
We will look forward to meeting again in person at the Fall meeting in Ft Lauderdale (October 21-23, 2020, Wednesday to Friday, Fort Lauderdale, Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa). The meeting will begin Wednesday, October 21st. The second Robert L. Comis Translational Science Symposium is planned to be different from previous Translational meetings and will be in the form of a panel discussion directed to exploring the whole area of Real-World Evidence. We hope that this topic will resonate both with academic and community sites (each person must decide for themselves where the Real World exists!). There is the potential for much novel research activity that we have not previously participated in. We hope that you will be able to attend. This meeting and the General Session bracket our activities in our face-to-face meetings. With the meeting in Ft Lauderdale, we hope to initiate a broadcast of the General Session, so that individuals unable to attend the meeting can get a flavor of the best work of ECOG-ACRIN, and where our investigators are leading us as their trials break new ground and define improved cancer treatments.
We understand well that we will all have a role to play in getting past the COVID-19 disease, and we wish you safety and success in whatever your role turns out to be.
Peter O’Dwyer and Mitch Schnall