Eighth Annual AACI CRI Meeting Focuses on Operational Efficiency

The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) Clinical Research Initiative (CRI) convened its eighth annual meeting in July in Chicago. The 2016 meeting covered two full days and was attended by more than 300 clinical research office leaders, medical directors, cancer center administrators, representatives from NCI and industry. This yearís meeting focused on operational efficiency and ways cancer centers are evaluating current practices and improving their management of their clinical trialís program to be able to provide novel cancer treatments to patients.

The meeting commenced with a moving keynote presentation by Keith Eaton, MD, PhD, who shared his experience as a cancer patient who had a five percent chance of survival and received multiple rounds of chemotherapy before being treated with an experimental immunotherapy treatment of CAR T-Cell therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving the novel treatment, Dr. Eatonís cancer was reduced to undetectable levels allowing him to undergo a stem cell transplant that led to complications but also allowed him to return to a healthy life. Dr. Eaton also related how his personal battle with cancer has changed how he discusses treatment options with his patients.

Meeting presenters discussed how their centers are operationalizing their programs to meet the challenges of new cancer treatment trial designs, such as the NCI-MATCH trial. New ways to screen and enroll patients in molecular-based immunotherapy cancer trials were also shared, and panelists explained that the key to accelerating trial activation and screening is to be flexible and open to new approaches. Also aired were lessons learned from cooperative group and FDA audits. Breakout sessions provided opportunities for sharing best practices in trial monitoring and accrual, and strategic planning for Cancer Center Support Grant renewal.

Along with 23 poster displays, abstract winners from three cancer centers presented their work on innovative approaches to regulatory operations, review of a new workload assessment tool, and how utilizing data from past trials can lead to realistic study budgets.

The AACI CRI annual meeting is designed to improve the clinical research process, understand the global impact of conducting clinical research in the United States and abroad, discuss trends in clinical trials safety and compliance, and recommend polices to promote staff retention at the cancer centers. To help achieve these goals the meeting offers many general sessions along with providing participants with opportunities to attend breakout sessions led by peers and to share ideas during a poster session.

Next yearís 9th Annual CRI Meeting in Chicago will be held July 12 -13.