Christopher M. Rose, MD, FASTRO
Research Committee Board Liaison
The Radiation Oncology Institute was established in 2006 to heighten the critical role of radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer through research and education. Critical to that mission is the need to support, promote and publicize research and researchers who are generating evidence about the life-saving and quality of life benefits of radiation therapy. To that end, earlier this year ASTRO recognized the Institute as ASTRO’s officially designated Research Foundation.
The ROI Research Committee is charged with recommending to the Institute’s Board of Trustees those areas of research to pursue, which high quality research projects to fund, and which innovative researchers to support. We are focused upon innovative research that otherwise might not be funded by the larger government and private research foundations. The Committee is led by Chair Gita Suneja, MD, MSHP, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and Global Health at Duke and Co-chair Robert Miller, MD, MBA, Professor of Radiation Oncology at Mayo Clinic. The Research Committee has been invigorated with the appointment of a majority of new members who provide specialized expertise in translational science, health services research, symptom management, biology, physics and technology.
The Research Committee is guided by our Needs Assessment and surveys of the ASTRO membership, most recently at the 2017 Annual Meeting. Research priorities this year are organized under the broad topics of Safety and Quality, Value of RT, Toxicity Management, Comparative Effectiveness and Informatics. The Committee identifies high quality research by developing competitive Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that are disseminated widely to the oncology community. Most recently we have funded over $200,000 in a series of Innovative Projects on ameliorating radiation financial toxicity, using telehealth to increase access to survivorship programs, raising awareness of radiation as a treatment option for prostate cancer, extending the use of SBRT as a bridge to transplantation for patients with high risk hepatocellular carcinoma, and comparing costs and barriers to access for competitive methods of treating prostate cancer.
A secondary aim of the Radiation Oncology Institute is to provide first grant and other seed funding for early career radiation oncologists. Research produces the seed corn for new methods of treatment and increased cure rates for patients with cancer. Without fostering radiation researchers, our field is at risk of stagnation and irrelevance. Of the last 14 research grants or awards funded by the ROI, nine were extended to residents, fellows or faculty in the first three years of their appointments.
Elsewhere in this issue of The Visionary you will find details of our new 2018 Publication Award. In addition to funding innovative research, we can enhance the research environment by supporting and publicizing scholars who are publishing practice-changing research. The Research Committee will be reviewing nominated papers published over the past year in the general and radiation oncology, physics and biology literature. Nominations will be accepted through July 20.
As a community practitioner, it is a high privilege to participate in the work of this group of 16 committed individuals who spend their weekends and nights creating RFPs, reviewing research proposals and advising our Board. Their work is essential to the radiation oncology community. It is equally heartening to appreciate the wide range and quality of research being conducted and the energy and high intelligence of our research community. On behalf of both the Research Committee and the Board of Trustees, I thank our donors for your support and generosity. If you have questions or suggestions as to how we can be more effective, we’d be pleased to hear from you. Otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful summer.
Christopher Rose is Chief Radiation Oncologist of the US Oncology Network/McKesson Specialty Health.