The Spotlight is on Us in 2017: Write Well and Show Off

Did you ever wonder how our colleagues nationally get to know us?

As we enter 2017, I have one answer for you - the core grant renewal for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.  The number of leaders in the field of cancer research who will learn about us through the grant renewal is daunting! 

Our External Advisory Board, comprised of  15 members including four cancer center directors, reviews our Center yearly and offers constructive advice; our ad hoc reviewers, all of whom will review a Cancer Center program and perhaps a shared resource write-up, includes 18 national experts who are leaders of similar programs in cancer centers across the country. 

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), led by Henry Ciolino, Acting Director of the Office of Cancer Centers, and our program officer, Sonya Roberson, includes eight other program officers with whom we met three weeks ago. Plus, of course, Acting NCI Director Doug Lowy and Deputy Director Jim Doroshow. That's 12 more leaders in the cancer field who will know us in and out by the end of our renewal. 

After the grant is submitted in May, our review panel will arrive in October for a two-day visit. It is here that we will be given the opportunity to again demonstrate to the panel of 26 (including about eight members of the parent committee and other cancer center leaders across the nation) just how great we are. 

If you add up the numbers, those directly involved in reviewing our cancer center over the coming year total 71  senior cancer center leaders from the major centers in the country. And of course, each of them will talk to their friends (you can apply your multiplier - perhaps 6-15x!), for we are a carefully watched center given our consortium and our accomplishments!

Of course, we can not have a grant review without writing it. Every cancer center member (over 300 of us) is involved either because you have published, been awarded a grant, and conducted research as part of a team or a clinical trial. All of these efforts are important! Behind the scenes are another 36 staff and assistants across the institutions assembling data, pouring over documents and editing. Adding it all up, it is a herculean task, and worth every bit of the effort!

A worthy focus for all of us is to showcase our strengths, our trajectory, and what makes us special in a memorable way!  Even when we individually present at national meetings, visit other centers, and publish and submit grants, the collective whole of the center comes under intense scrutiny only once every five years, and we are recognized for how we do.

Last year at this time, I commented that in cancer center grant renewal timelines, 2016 was our "year of record" for grants, publications, hires and clinical trial accruals.  Which leads me to our focus for 2017: Simply put, write well and show off!

Many of you have directly contributed your work to the program leaders and have responded to requests for information.  All have worked hard to help our metrics - and those metrics are terrific! Grant funding is up, investigator-initiated clinical trials are up, accrual to early phase clinical trials are up, the number of new compounds being developed as new therapy is up, the number of new cell therapy trials are up, and, remarkably, the number of high impact publications has skyrocketed upward. Our impact has changed clinical practice and the paradigm of cancer research, and brought forward new therapeutics.

It is gratifying to tell your collective and remarkable story!  If we have yet to tell your exciting story, please let me know.

Happy New Year,  but I am equally excited to predict that next January, the news will be even better!