Dr. Bertagnolli highlighted the central role clinical trials will play in her agenda at the National Cancer Institute and described President Biden’s push to create new possibilities for cancer research.
Philadelphia, October 28, 2022 — Leaders and members of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) were honored to be the recipients of the first public address of Monica Bertagnolli, MD, as National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director. Dr. Bertagnolli stated that NCI would modernize clinical trials and double patient accrual under her stewardship. She delivered remarks in person as the keynote speaker at the Group’s fall member meeting on October 27 in Washington, DC. Her health policy messages carry relevance across the cancer community.
“We will work together to reinvent how we approach, design, and conduct clinical trials, and report results. Doing so will increase the efficiency and speed of the clinical trials process, ultimately making important new treatments available to cancer patients much faster,” said Dr. Bertagnolli.
The outpouring of support for Dr. Bertagnolli’s appointment recognizes her commitment to improving all aspects of a cancer patient’s experience. She is remarkable for the strength of her leadership, deep understanding, and warmth of concern for cancer patients.
A video recording of her talk appears below.
Dr. Bertagnolli is the first cooperative group chair and the first woman to lead the NCI. She began her new position on October 3 after stepping down as chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (Alliance). Cooperative groups are part of the NCI National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). They include the Alliance, Children’s Oncology Group, ECOG-ACRIN, NRG Oncology, and SWOG, in the United States, along with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group.
“Dr. Bertagnolli emphasized the key role of the public clinical research enterprise translating discovery into patient care, and spoke to the importance of extending access to the latest discoveries to all patients, including those in underserved communities,” said ECOG-ACRIN group co-chair Peter J. O’Dwyer, MD. “She recognized the unrealized potential of the largely volunteer clinical researchers by suggesting that a doubling of trial accrual would be both feasible and productive.”
Dr. Bertagnolli’s speech generated an energy among the ECOG-ACRIN community that will likely extend through NCI and the entire research network. She underscored that it is important for members of the clinical trial community to not only take a broad view of integration with basic and translational science, but also reflect on the human side of cancer–the burdens and sacrifices of oncology patients and their families.
“Without the National Clinical Trials Network, the NCI Community Oncology Research Program, and the Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network, [research progress] doesn’t reach people with cancer,” she said. “Your work makes the rest of it work—the critical work of translating discoveries into therapies and evaluating them in patients.”
“It was inspiring to hear Dr. Bertagnolli’s comments relative to the importance of clinical research to cancer patients and to the NCI’s mission and to hear her commitment to work in partnership with the NCI clinical research community to minimize barriers and accelerate the pace of progress,” said ECOG-ACRIN group co-chair Mitchell D. Schnall, MD, PhD.
During her remarks, Bertagnolli described President Biden’s push to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H. She said the new agency, which is still taking shape, represents new possibilities for cancer research.
The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) is a membership-based scientific organization that designs and conducts cancer research involving adults who have or are at risk of developing cancer. ECOG-ACRIN comprises nearly 1300 member institutions in the United States and around the world. Approximately 15,000 physicians, translational scientists, and associated research professionals from the member institutions are involved in Group research. For more information, visit http://www.ecog-acrin.org, follow us on Twitter @eaonc, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or call 215.789.3631.