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Drs Gerber and Nwachukwu on the Importance of Streamlining Clinical Research in Cancer Care

David Gerber, MD, and Chika Nwachukwu, MD, PhD, discuss their role within the Stand Up To Cancer® 4-team initiative, focusing on diversity in early-phase clinical trials.

David Gerber, MD, professor of internal medicine, co-director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program, University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center, UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center, and Chika Nwachukwu, MD, PhD, associate program director, Medical Residency, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, assistant professor, Radiation Oncology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, discuss their role within the Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) 4-team initiative, focusing on diversity in early-phase clinical trials.

Within the initiative, Gerber and Nwachukwu will focus their transferring care to enhance access to early-phase cancer clinical trials at UT Southwestern Medical Center and community treatment centers.

Enrolling a patient to a cancer clinical trial can still represent a real challenge, Gerber begins. As a clinician thinks about the eligibility of a patient for different trials, conducting research, and eventually finding the right trial, the clinician can often feel like they have run a marathon, despite this being only the initial steps of a patient, Gerber emphasizes. This makes it important to find ways to make this process smoother as possible and trials more accessible for patients, Gerber emphasizes.

Moreover, it must be understood what the barriers and the facilitators to clinical trial participation are by examining individual steps, Gerber notes. Overall, clinicians are hoping to learn about access to trials, particularly through the question of availability, which is one of the most important and least studied facets of the process, Gerber says.

Additionally, given the proximity of existing relationships between safety-net hospitals and National Cancer Institute–designated cancer centers, plus the existence of companies willing to cover the cost of care for clinical trials, these initiatives to improve the enrollment process and transfer care to community centers will be beneficial, Nwachukwu notes. Transferring care for complex trials to a smaller population could be feasible, effective, and efficient with this support. The initiative will aim to examine the timeliness and cost effectiveness for enrolling patients on clinical trials at smaller centers, Nwachukwu adds. Overall, these initiatives could help make it easier for more patients to gain access to early-phase clinical trials, Nwachukwu concludes.

Editor’s note: Dr Gerber reports serving as an advisory board member for Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

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