I find it hard to believe, but this winter marks just over 3.5 years since I arrived at ASCO as CEO. Looking back, I am proud of our progress, starting with forming our strategic plan and now executing against it.
As we begin our work in 2020, I am excited that we are building on the remarkable successes of 2019—and the years before—with growing collaboration and sharpening focus. We continue to set ambitious goals and are committed to meeting (and exceeding) them in the months ahead.
Early in our strategic planning process we declared ASCO’s core values (Evidence, Care, Impact) and recognized three pillars for carrying out the mission: Research, Education, and Quality (specifically, quality of care). Reflecting on these mission pillars and our accomplishments in 2019, I hope the summary below demonstrates that we are delivering real progress!
On behalf of all of us at ASCO, thank you for your valuable contributions and dedication to our Society and our recently launched Association. We look forward to working with you to continue delivering on our mission to conquer cancer through research, education, and promotion of the highest quality patient care.
ASCO’s Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) Study is a practice- and research-changing program that is engaging growing numbers of our members and their patients. As of January 2020, we have:
- Enrolled more than 1,700 patients
- Completed 12 cohorts (seven negative and five positive)
- Published two TAPUR manuscripts, with four in development (and more coming in 2020)
- Presented 11 cohort abstracts
The TAPUR Study continues apace in 2020. We are currently enrolling 28 cohorts in expanded phase. Participating companies have committed five new drugs and a new company has joined the study, bringing the total to eight companies.
Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation supported 82 Young Investigator Awards (YIAs), 16 Career Development Awards (CDAs), and a total of 379 individual awardees. Conquer Cancer closed 2019 with greater funding support than planned in all three of its categories: corporate, foundation, and individual support. And, this year, Women Who Conquer Cancer provided support for 13 awards. I am excited to note that we have tripled the number of endowed YIAs (now 19) since I began my tenure as CEO. To all of you who donated to Conquer Cancer in 2019, we thank you for your generous support, especially for the next generation of cancer researchers.
Our annual National Cancer Opinion Survey provided new insights into a growing national crisis: vaping and e-cigs. We reported that one in four young people (ages 18 to 38) believes e-cigarettes are harmless and not addictive, and 3 in 10 think flavored e-cigarettes are less damaging to a person’s health than non-flavored ones. This data helps inform our discussions with regulators and legislators. The recently legislated increase in the legal age to buy tobacco products in the United States (now 21 nationwide) represents a concrete result built in part on our work.
We hosted our first-ever global summit in Asia, ASCO Breakthrough, in Bangkok in October 2019. Halfway around the world from our headquarters in Virginia, we worked to create an evolved and forward-looking experience. We built on our strategic commitment to cutting-edge education that incorporates the best of adult learning theory, delivered a very different and highly interactive format that leveraged our software platform, and engaged a new and mostly international audience in innovative ways. We look forward to taking what we learned in 2019 and delivering an even more impactful global summit, again based in Asia, in 2021. You can anticipate further incorporation of new technology and innovation in content delivery at all ASCO meetings and cosponsored symposia as we learn from each successive event.
Speaking of our global education ambitions, this year we offered 12 international courses in 11 countries and launched a pilot of Project ECHO (a collaborative learning and telehealth initiative) at six sites in Nepal.
Our education mission also extends to our work on Capitol Hill and with legislators and regulators. Our 2019 Advocacy Summit was our largest and most successful ever. We are laying the foundation for greater advocacy impact through the establishment of the ASCO Association; this will allow us to most effectively advocate for patients, care, and research in the years ahead.
Our quality agenda is broad, ambitious, and stretches back more than 20 years, beginning with the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) and practice guidelines and growing to encompass the Quality Training Program, QOPI Certification, and CancerLinQ. We are happy to see the international uptake of our quality offerings: growth in QOPI reporting practices (including our first 3-year re-certification of an international practice), international training programs, and the launch of our licensed Quality of Care Symposium in Madrid.
Domestically, in 2019 we obtained Board approval and published standards for integrated medical pharmacy dispensing for oral drugs; piloted the use of CancerLinQ to collect QOPI Certification threshold quality metrics electronically; conducted thematic QOPI training programs addressing team burnout; and won two 3-year grant awards from the Niarchos and Komen Foundations for QOPI reporting and quality training of practices serving the underserved, including rural practices. We also updated and released our Patient-Centered Oncology Payment (PCOP) model.
Supporting quality, but ultimately research as well, we helped a broad array of external collaborators across oncology build and launch the Minimum Common Oncology Data Elements (mCODE) project. This is a visionary project that promises to improve data at the source and remove barriers to quality improvement in the future.