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First clinical research management training for young oncologists from Latin America

Intro text: 

 

 

Four young oncologists from Latin America arrived this week in Brussels to follow a training programme dedicated to clinical research development and management.

During this 4-week programme initiated by the Breast International Group (BIG) and the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group (LACOG) and developed in close collaboration with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), the group will attend a variety of activities (presentations, interactive exercises, classroom courses, site visits, etc.) and will have the opportunity to exchange experience, know-how and ideas about the management of clinical research groups, as well as the negotiation, set-up and running of clinical trials. The objective of this training is to nurture future cancer expert leaders in the Latin American region and help them build the infrastructure required to conduct high quality national and regional clinical research, as well as to take part in large international research programmes, while dealing with the many local challenges specifically faced by their region.

 

Why this training programme on clinical research?

The idea for this programme materialised from discussions that took place during a meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2014. This regional ‘Retreat’, first of its kind initiated by BIG, brought to the table leading Latin American cancer experts from the BIG network, together with representatives of BIG Executive Board and BIG Headquarters. The goal of the meeting was to better understand the clinical research situation in Latin America - with a focus on breast cancer - , and to determine how cancer experts could work hand-in-hand to optimise their collaborations, whether within their individual countries, within their region, or internationally through the BIG network. During the meeting it was agreed that although some challenges needed to be dealt with locally – such as educating local populations about the importance of research or addressing lengthy regulatory approval processes --, providing training and support for young oncologists in the management of clinical research groups and the development of clinical studies was a priority for the region that could be achieved together.

"Working much better hand-in-hand to address the concerns of breast cancer patients wherever they live across the globe"

The training programme

The training programme, which was launched on 13 October and will last until 10 November, was developed jointly by LACOG, the EORTC and BIG. It is taking place in Brussels, in the respective headquarters of both the EORTC and BIG. 

The European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) brings together European cancer clinical research experts from all disciplines for trans-national collaboration. Both multinational and multidisciplinary, the EORTC network comprises more than 4,600 collaborators from all disciplines involved in cancer treatment and research in more than 640 hospitals in over 37 countries. A unique pan-European non-profit clinical research infrastructure, EORTC offers an integrated approach to drug development, drug evaluation programs and medical practices through translational and clinical research, with the mission to prolong survival and improve patients’ quality of life.

With a long history of educating early-career physicians in clinical research, the EORTC was the natural partner with which to develop the course curriculum.  At the EORTC, the trainees will focus on the various aspects of clinical research development, from operational and technical issues to statistics.  www.eortc.org

At BIG, the focus will shift more to communications and networking between collaborative groups, as well as fundraising. 

Some courses will also be provided by ECCRT, the European Centre for Clinical Research Training (www.eccrt.com).

A mentorship programme is also under development to provide continuous support and advice to each of the trainees upon their return home.

This training is thus an important first step to support early-career cancer researchers in Latin America in their mission to build the solid infrastructures needed to enable them to address regionally important questions that have a real impact on their patients, and at the same time to interact closely with their peers on an international level. The ultimate goal is to boost clinical research in Latin American and thereby to improve the lives of cancer patients from the region.

BIG affiliated cancer research groups from Latin America

GAICO - Grupo Argentino de Investigación Clínica en Oncología
GBECAM - Brazilian Breast Cancer Study Group 
GECOPERU - Grupo de Estudios Clinicos Oncologicos Peruano 
GOCHI - Chilean Cooperative Group for Oncologic Research 
GOCUR - Grupo Oncológico Cooperativo Uruguayo 
LACOG - Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group

 

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Current scenario of clinical research in oncology in Latin America

If we look worldwide, it is a fact that clinical research activity is mainly concentrated in developed countries. Latin America is only but an example of this heterogeneous distribution of research efforts. Indeed, only 4% is registered in Latin America, of which 2% in Brazil [1].

Furthermore, clinical research is mainly funded by pharmaceutical industry, and therefore covers particular tumor types and clinical scenarios that do not necessarily reflect the epidemiological reality and clinical needs in most of the world [1].

Latin America is struggling to build a qualified and sustainable infrastructure able to develop clinical research in that region of the world. Several factors can explain this precarious situation, among them: limited and unequal access to drugs and medical devices, bad health infrastructures, lack of public health programmes, and lack of funding to support research.

Cancer research groups in Latin America have rung the alarm and are joining efforts to tackle this issue. The cancer epidemic we will face in the coming decades is poorly served by the way we currently address clinical research in cancer. In Latin America, for example, it is estimated that 1.7 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2030, and more than 1 million cancer deaths will occur annually [2].

 

[1] Clinical Trials Worldwide www.clinicaltrials.gov
[2] Estimative of new cancer cases in Latin America. Goss PE, et al. Planning cancer control in Latin America and the Caribbean. Lancet Oncol. 2013 Apr;14(5):391-436