New Committee Chairs to Lead Three AACI Programs

AACI’s Clinical Research Innovation (CRI), Government Relations (GR) Forum, and Physician Clinical Leadership Initiative (PCLI) welcome new committee leaders who will provide guidance to the association in the areas of cancer center management and public policy.

Theresa L. Werner, MD, medical director of the clinical trials office at Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, will chair the CRI Steering Committee. John DeMuro, the federal legislative affairs director for Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, will lead the GR Forum Steering Committee. Claire F. Verschraegen, MS, MD, FACP, director of the division of medical oncology and associate director of the translational research program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Cancer Hospital & Richard J. Solove Research Institute, will be the PCLI Steering Committee chair. They will formally assume their duties during the 2019 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting, October 20-22, in Washington, DC.

Dr. Werner is the recipient of the National Cancer Institute’s 2016 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award. She specializes in women’s cancers and serves as the principal investigator for numerous clinical trials in gynecologic and breast cancers. She succeeds Carrie Lee, MD, MPH, medical director of the clinical protocol office at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who led the CRI Steering Committee for two years and has participated on the committee for three. Under Dr. Lee's leadership, CRI developed a strategic plan, doubled abstract submissions to its annual meeting, completed a benchmarking survey, and engaged patient advocates. Recognizing that clinical trials in the U.S. face administrative and staffing barriers, regulatory constraints, increasing costs, and lagging patient accrual, AACI established the Clinical Research Initiative in 2009. In 2018, the program was renamed "Clinical Research Innovation." 

DeMuro represents Moffitt on a range of federal policy issues that affect cancer treatment and research. This includes advocacy for increased funding for cancer research as well as policies promoting access to cancer care though private and government-sponsored health insurance programs. His predecessor is Anne L. Levine, MEd, MBA, vice president of external affairs at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who served as chair of AACI’s GR Forum Steering Committee for three years. Under Levine's leadership, AACI established monthly Cancer Center Update Calls for government relations professionals at member centers, allowing colleagues to share state-based legislative initiatives and progress at their respective cancer centers. The GR Forum was created to coordinate efforts among all cancer centers to educate local officials and members of Congress about the cancer research enterprise and the positive impact of cancer center initiatives on patients. 

Prior to joining OSUCCC – James, Dr. Verschraegen served as hematology/oncology division director at the University of Vermont Cancer Center. She started her career at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, moving to the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center where she developed the clinical trials office. She will assume the role previously held by Randall F. Holcombe, MD, MBA, director of the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, as chair of the PCLI Steering Committee. During Dr. Holcombe's tenure, PCLI standardized steering committee terms, hosted webinars, and created a protected time survey. In response to the rapid changes in health care delivery and the expectation to "do more with less" at clinical practices at AACI cancer centers, AACI created PCLI as a forum for physician clinical leaders in 2015.

AACI committees are comprised of dedicated volunteers who commit their time and expertise to the association. In addition to clinical topics and government relations, committees focus on finance and coordinating the AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting.