The 12th Joint ECCO-AACR-EORTC-ESMO Workshop on “Methods in Clinical Cancer Research 2010” was held on 19 – 25 June 2010 in Waldhaus Flims, Switzerland. This conference was jointly organized by the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). The EORTC participated for the first time as a full partner of this workshop.
The design of cancer clinical trials is of the utmost significance, because errors in the design and conduct of a clinical trial can make it impossible to derive a well-informed answer to the question that the trial is asking. A poorly designed cancer clinical trial can cause promising avenues of research based on sound scientific work to be abandoned and delay the introduction of new treatments into the general medical oncology practice. It is therefore of critical importance that young oncologists are trained in effective clinical trial design.
Another concern is that the number of individuals engaged as clinical researchers is decreasing. This course, then, also serves to support prospective clinical investigators.
The response of ECCO, AACR, EORTC, and ESMO to these problems has been to jointly design a program that will introduce junior clinical oncologists to the principles of good clinical design, expose them to the full gamut of possibilities in cancer clinical research, and ultimately educate them about cancer clinical trial designs that will lead to improved regimens for cancer therapy.
This year, 84 students representing 16 European countries, Canada, the United States, Egypt, Singapore, Russia, Israel, Zimbabwe, and Morocco attended the workshop. The 39 faculty members hailed from Europe and USA and represented different areas of expertise and interest including medical oncology (adults and children), hematology, radiation oncology, surgery, radiology, and statistics.
Students attending this year’s workshop attended educational sessions, participated in discussion groups related to specific clinical research topics such as the design for early trials, bio-banking / translational research, and pediatric clinical trials, and worked in small teams developing protocols. By the end of the workshop most students had produced a well developed draft of their protocols and were very satisfied with their experience at the workshop. The EORTC looks forward to organizing future workshops with ECCO, AACR, and ESMO so that future clinical oncologists can benefit from this training.
Thierry Gorlia, Sandrine Marreaud, Jan Bogaerts, and John Bean