Three-Day CRI Meeting Focuses on Innovation, Collaboration


From July 9-11, AACI’s Clinical Research Innovation (CRI) convened its 11th annual meeting in Chicago. The 2019 meeting introduced a new three-day format, including poster discussions. A record-breaking 431 clinical research office leaders, medical directors, cancer center administrators, patient advocates, and representatives from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and industry attended the meeting, titled "Strategies to Maximize Innovation to Advance Cancer Clinical Research."

Participants engaged in sessions on topics including conducting multicenter trials, enrolling diverse populations onto trials, using electronic solutions to match patients, maximizing financial resources, and preparing for the NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG).

In "How to Capitalize on Conducting Multicenter Trials," panelists focused on the need to set clear expectations to ensure that multicenter trials are run effectively. Other focus areas included ways to operationalize investigator-initiated trials and how to manage multiple sites under a single institutional review board.

In "Getting to Know Your Patients: Enrolling Diverse Populations to Clinical Trials," panelists discussed innovative ways to recruit and enroll patients from minority groups in a cancer center's catchment area. They shared effective strategies for increasing the number of Hispanic and African-American patients involved in clinical research, including the establishment of a clinical trials minority accrual task force and programs designed to empower individuals to make informed decisions about clinical trial participation.

In another session, “Using Clinical Trial Matching to Enhance Enrollment,” panelists provided real-world examples of digital tools—including software driven by artificial intelligence and data from electronic health records—that helped increase clinical trials enrollment at their cancer centers. 

Panelists shared creative strategies for generating clinical trial revenue in "Clinical Trial Finance Management: Matching CTO Resources with Innovative Therapies." During the session, panelists offered solutions to common challenges with creating trial budgets for immuno-oncology trials, collecting data to demonstrate downstream revenue generated from trials, and ensuring that trial budget costs align with efforts for conducting research. These solutions included the implementation of new clinical trials management systems that help cancer centers automate and centralize efforts. Panelists also described the reorganization of finance departments to reduce redundancies, support budget development, complete real-time invoicing for trials, and evaluate revenue received from clinical trial sponsors. 

Henry Ciolino, PhD, director of the NCI’s Office of Cancer Centers, presented updates to the NCI CCSG program, as well as the pending new funding opportunity agreement, new catchment area definitions, and adjustments to community outreach and engagement (COE) reporting and protocol review and monitoring. Regarding COE, Dr. Ciolino emphasized that centers would be encouraged in their CCSG reviews to describe the infrastructure that has been established to enhance outreach, for example, establishing an office of COE, forging partnerships with healthcare plans and government agencies, and constituting community advisory boards. In the same session, Gisele Sarosy, MD, of the NCI’s Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials, focused on modifications to the clinical trials reporting program (CTRP), including an update on the CTRP-Generated Data Table 4.

Raquel Jex Forsgren, founder of Front-Line Resilience Health and Living Yoga Therapy in Chicago, presented the keynote, "Strategies for Self-Preservation." The interactive presentation provided attendees with tools for managing stress and building on six domains of resilience—vision, composure, reasoning, health, tenacity, and collaboration—to combat "compassion fatigue."

Authors from 24 cancer centers submitted 66 abstracts for the 2019 CRI annual meeting. This year’s submissions reflected an increase in collaboration between AACI members, vendors, and community partners. Three winning abstracts were presented individually during a formal meeting program session, and, for the first time, nine additional abstracts were highlighted during topic-specific poster discussions. 

The three winning abstracts, selected by the CRI Steering Committee and CRI Education Committee, were submitted by authors representing Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina; and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Poster session discussions encouraged open dialogue on topics including clinical research operations, investigator-initiated trials, training and quality assurance, trial recruitment and disparities research, and trial start-up and closure. Poster presenters represented Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center; Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; and University of Florida Health Cancer Center.

Supporters worked with AACI to create a meeting environment conducive to learning, networking, and strategic innovation. In addition to participating in plenary sessions and poster discussions, this year’s CRI attendees also had an opportunity to interact with 13 contracted exhibitors—the highest number of exhibitors in the meeting's history—that each demonstrate a strong commitment to working with academic cancer centers to help solve operational challenges. 

Presentations are accessible to attendees on the meeting app. Members who did not attend the meeting may view presentations on the AACI Portal

Planning is underway for the 2020 CRI meeting. Please contact AACI Program Manager C.J. Confair to share your ideas for topics and speakers. 

View the Meeting Program and Abstracts