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Cancer Nexus Blog

UMass CRO Receives Recognition for Outstanding Performance

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

UMass Cancer Center is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN), a collection of cancer centers, academic medical centers and hospitals that coordinate and support cancer clinical trials at more than 2,200 sites across the United States and around the world. Participation in NCI’s NCTN allows UMass to bring the most cutting-edge, most promising clinical trials to their patients. It also means they are held to high standards to conduct research that meets strict guidelines for accrual, data quality, timeliness, and compliance.

For the third year in a row, the group that coordinates and conducts adult cancer-based clinical trials at UMass—known as the Cancer Research Office or CRO—has been recognized for its outstanding research performance by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, one of five US Network Groups in NCI’s NCTN. ECOG-ACRIN, formed by the merger of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), consists of nearly 1500 member institutions in the US and around the world. It is a multidisciplinary, membership-based scientific organization that designs and conducts biomarker-driven cancer research in adults who have or are at risk of developing cancer. To ensure that member institutions maintain ECOG-ACRIN’s rigorous standards for conducting cancer research with and through the Group, it carries out blinded institutional evaluations on a yearly basis to evaluate the performance of its member networks. Data from the previous year are reviewed in several areas including accrual, clinical data quality, data timeliness, scientific leadership, administrative leadership, and compliance with requirements for submission of laboratory samples and images.

The CRO recently received commendation for their excellence in accrual, data quality and administrative participation, adding to the honors they received in 2019 and 2020.

In operation since 2001, the CRO offers centrally provided support and full service for clinical investigations. The CRO is overseen by the leadership team of the medical director William Walsh, MD, and associate medical director Jan Cerny, MD, PhD, who serves as the ECOG-ACRIN principal investigator at UMass. The CRO team consists of clinical research nurses and clinical research coordinators, and is supported by the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) Office of Clinical Research (OCR). The CRO also works collaboratively with pharmacists in Investigational Drug Services, who play a key role in facilitating subject safety for clinical trials. The work of the CRO is managed by the clinical research nurse manager Cara Gregoire, RN, BSN, MHA.

Receiving commendation for outstanding performance by ECOG-ACRIN three years in a row is a notable accomplishment. This year, UMass was one of only 30 member networks to receive the honor. “I think it is a remarkable achievement,” adds Dr. Cerny. “The majority of this accomplishment happened under the duress of the pandemic, with all its negative fallout towards academic work and clinical investigation. That we were able to maintain a standard of excellence in our clinical trials research is a remarkable success story.”

Ms. Gregoire notes that the commendation from ECOG-ACRIN is a recognition of the entire team’s dedication and hard work. “Our goal is to provide full support to our investigators to ensure the successful conduct of clinical research. Our dedication is to our patients, to provide them access to treatments they otherwise would not have been able to receive and support them through a piece of their cancer care journey. I couldn’t ask for a better team to help achieve these goals and to work supporting our patients every day. This recognition just highlights the hard work we do every day in the name of our patients, investigators, and advancement of cancer-directed treatments.”

Cancer Research Office Staff
Cancer Research Office Staff
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