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Conrad Notes
a timely medical meeting newsletter
R. Young, MD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Penn, chaired this session organized by the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors. NCI staff presented an update on extramural grant funding and initiatives undertaken since 1994. ASCO members queried Young and NCI staff on topics ranging from allowing more community oncologists to participate in study protocol development to anxiety about the future of physician scientists. A formal response to ASCO member concerns was promised by Young.
NCI update R. Klausner, MD, Director of NCI noted several new initiatives:

  • increased funding for extramural activities by reallocation

  • recruited physicians to reexamine the NCI as an organization dealing with the Cancer Centers, clinical trials system, cancer prevention and control programs, and therapeutics in terms of goals and better use of available funds

  • established a think tank to help modify the NCI infrastructure and enhance scientific opportunities

  • strengthened NCI's advocacy role in terms of NCI needs, budget, opportunities, access to clinical studies, genetic discrimination, and ASCO concerns about insurance company practices

These opening remarks set the tone for the Q&A portion of the open meeting.

ASCO member concerns Time permitted hearing from 11 of 40 attendees. Concerns voiced by the audience included:

Ques - Why are community oncologists excluded from NCI study protocol development?

NCI - Such a request has been received rarely. More often the concerns involve a lack of funds for data entry, patient education for participation in clinical trials, complexity and bureaucracy connected with clinical trial organizations, and intricate protocols.

Ques - Is NCI looking beyond today's approach in clinical trials?

NCI - The group, chaired by J. Armitage, MD, President of ASCO, developed the National Clinical Trial System and the Cancer Centers. They are currently reexamining trial methodologies.

Ques - What is NCI doing about integrating classical clinical trial data with results on individual patients?

NCI - R. Young, MD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, chair of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, called attention to National Bone Marrow Network as an example. This Network has an outcomes database on 25,000 bone marrow transplants/year. Perhaps ASCO could help organize a similar program on cancer patients.

Ques - Can NCI help investigators become better recruiters of patients for clinical trials? Sponsoring a radio or television program on cancer would help educate patients and promote research.

NCI - This will be explored.

Ques - Can NCI help physician scientists continue basic research or require them to divert time and attention to revenue-producing activities?

NCI - NCI has requested funds to cover protected time costs for physician scientists.

Eugene A. Conrad

Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) on May 17-20, 1997
CONRAD NOTES, © 1997 All Rights Reserved
Eugene A. Conrad, PhD, MPH / ISSN 1078 / June 1997

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