Accomplishments in Clinical Research
Recent departmental accomplishments include:
- Multiple Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants for research programs in myeloid malignancies, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer, as well as translational
program project grants in immunogenicity, leukemia, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.
- Large Stand Up to Cancer grants for research in multiple myeloma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic cancer interception. Recent grants to support sequencing and analysis of human tumor specimens have also been funded.
- Establishment and development of a novel Immuno-Oncology Center, which coordinates clinical research across tumor types, including clinical trials involving immunotherapy agents
such as checkpoint inhibitors of CTLA4 and PDL1. This center has led several immunotherapy trials with high impact, and currently leads more than 28 clinical trials testing novel immunological therapies.
- Development and implementation of the Immuno-Oncology Investigator Training Program, designed to facilitate research involving immunotherapies by developing the next generation of leaders in immuno-oncology, and by increasing the number of investigators
with expertise in immuno-oncology.
- Development and implementation of multiple technology solutions to optimize cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and practice, to aid in health care management and regulation, and to track patient response and inform clinical research and cancer care delivery
innovation at scale.
- Multiple studies on the mechanisms of resistance to ALK and EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer and strategies to avert and bypass resistance mechanisms (Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD, Bruce Johnson, MD, and others).
Advances in Cancer Medicine Through Clinical Trials and Translation to Patients
Major advances in the care of cancer patients over the last decade have resulted in a significant decline in cancer death rates over the last few years. Members of the department have contributed significantly to these advances through clinical trials some of which include:
- Enrollment of more than 3,900 patients across DF/HCC annually in therapeutic trials, and more than 9,400 patients annually in non-therapeutic clinical trials.
- Expansion of the outpatient Clinical Research Center in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, with 24 infusion beds dedicated to Phase I and II therapeutic clinical trials.
- Development and implementation of a training program for clinical investigators, specifically aimed at junior faculty and senior fellows, as well as improved infrastructure to support clinical trial research.
- Development and implementation of a Research Nurse Training Program and Internship Program, and a newly-licensed Research Nurse Residency Program.
- Clinical trials testing BCL2 blocking drug and BH3 mimetics have leading to FDA approval of Venetoclax for certain forms of chronic lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL), small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), and in combination with chemotherapy, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (Anthony Letai, MD, PhD).
- Multiple clinical studies showing the remarkable potential of anti-PD1 and anti-PDL1 antibodies for immunotherapy of patients with cancer, and the extension of immunotherapy to new cellular and microenvironmental targets (F. Stephen Hodi, MD, Gordon Freeman, MD, Philippe Armand, MD, PhD, and Margaret Shipp, MD).
- Co-development of MatchMiner, a system to match patients to clinical trials by integrating molecular tumor profiles (Michael Hassett, MD, PhD).
- Further development and trials of highly effective combination therapy for myeloma involving thalidomide derivatives and bortezomib, with numerous studies currently testing new generations of proteasome inhibitors, HDAC inhibitors, and immune therapies (Kenneth Anderson, MD, and Paul Richardson, MD).
- Development and testing of new cancer vaccine strategies, particularly in the areas of antigen presentation and adjuvants (Catherine Wu, MD, Patrick Ott, MD, PhD).
- Advancement in the adjuvant treatment of small, HER2-positive breast cancers with paclitaxel and trastuzumab (Sara Tolaney, MD, MPH, Eric Winer, MD).
- Development of successful new small-molecule drugs for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (Jennifer Brown, MD, PhD, Matthew Davids, MD, MMSc, Catherine Wu, MD).
- Identification of the mechanisms underlying the association between poverty and established contexts where genomic tumor profiling using panel tests such as OncoType DX is cost-effective in breast cancer (Rinaa Punglia, MD, MPH).
- Demonstration that the combination of biometric trackers and mobile symptom reporting prevents clinical deterioration and improves well-being in patients with advanced gynecological cancer (Alexi Wright, MD, MPH).
- Development of genotyping tests for solid and liquid tumors, focusing on actionable mutations. More than 103,000 patients have signed informed consents since 2014. In 2018, approximately 3,900 solid tumors and 3,000 liquid tumors were tested; in total, approximately 22,900 solid tumors and 10,000 liquid tumors have been tested.
- Establishment of the influence of physician communication styles on parent’s coping with a child’s cancer diagnosis (Jennifer Mack, MD, MPH)
- Demonstration of the impact of tailored communication strategies to decrease cancer risk (Vish Viswanath, PhD).
- Measurements of the impact of communication strategies on use of e-cigarettes and vaping among vulnerable populations (Andy Tan, PhD, MPH, MBA, MBBS).