Denis Lacombe succeeds Françoise Meunier as EORTC Director General

The EORTC is pleased to announce that Dr Denis Lacombe has been appointed EORTC Director General. He succeeds Dr Françoise Meunier, who has served this organization admirably in this position from 1991 through 2015. Dr Meunier will continue serving the EORTC as Director Special Projects and represent the organization externally, coordinate fundraising activities, and sit on the board of EORTC Cancer Research Fund.

Over the years, the clinical research environment has become increasingly complex, and, accordingly, we are pleased that at EORTC Headquarters Denis will be able to count on the support of Vassilis Golfinopoulos, Medical Director, Jan Bogaerts, Methodology Director, and Christian Brunet, Chief Financial Officer. With his leadership team in place, Denis will continue his dedication to the missions of the organization as it has been the case since he came to the EORTC, 23 years ago.

Today, the EORTC cancer clinical trial pipeline is flourishing, and an unprecedented number of new projects was reached in 2014. Here, it is important to note that despite recent global economic challenges, almost half of the current EORTC cancer clinical trials were purely academic, trials that are addressing fundamental medical and public health questions. Trials such as these truly represent the inherent mission of the organization, because academic trials are designed to improve treatments for patients without any specific commercial gain. Alongside these efforts, there is also a burgeoning partnership agenda with the commercial sector, and the current grant and registration studies remain in line with the overarching EORTC scientific strategy. Together, the academic and partnership studies confirm the robustness and the independence of the EORTC.

The 2012 revisited EORTC scientific strategy, activated under the leadership of Denis as Director of EORTC Headquarters, has given rise to new routes of research, innovative programs, and targeted initiatives. EORTC’s SPECTA, Screening Patients for Efficient Clinical Trial Access, for example, has been successfully launched and is garnering much attention from not only academic researchers but also from pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostic companies. The EORTC has also become quite visible in the regulatory arena, and the upcoming meeting on Innovation in Biomarker and Cancer Drug Development, IBCD, in partnership with United States National Cancer Institute (NCI), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will be an unprecedented event will shine a spotlight on multi-stakeholder approaches to cancer drug development with new cancer biomarkers in a scientific program which will include input from regulators, industry, academia, patients and payers. Similarly, the EORTC Cancer Survivorship Summit has opened new research avenues and extended EORTC activities to those of societal challenges, under the leadership of Francoise Meunier.

Multiple new partnerships have emerged that reinforce the EORTC as a unique international clinical and translational infrastructure. Scientific and health professional organizations as well as patient advocacy groups are among the entities with which the EORTC has already launched numerous new initiatives. EORTC Headquarters is now fully equipped with clinical, translational, and imaging platforms, and operates in a regulatory compliant environment. All these place the EORTC at the forefront of applied cancer research in Europe.

Many challenges remain, but it is certain that under Denis’ leadership the EORTC will continue to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. With its outstanding network and professional headquarters, the EORTC will position as a major European asset for improving the future of cancer therapy.

John Bean, PhD
EORTC, Medical Science Writer

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