NRG Oncology (NRG), a National Cancer Institute (NCI) National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) group, recently announced that they have named three health equity fellows as a part of the organization’s Health Equity Fellowship Program. Fellowship awardees include Dr. Idalid Franco, Dr. Sophia Kamran, and Dr. Anwaar Saeed.
NRG’s Health Equity Fellowship Program was established by Joan Walker, MD, of the University of Oklahoma and an NRG NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Principal Investigator, to train selected early-stage investigators in the NRG Oncology system by means of a structured mentorship experience. The program has an emphasis on the recruitment of researchers from underrepresented groups. Selected fellows receive an award of $50,000 for two years with an end result of developing a new research protocol within NRG Oncology.
"This program provides a platform for emerging leaders from underrepresented communities to amplify their impact in oncology,” said Geraldine M. Jacobson, MD, MPH, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Board of Directors. “We congratulate the 2023 fellows and look forward to their contributions to inclusive, NCI-funded clinical trials.”
Idalid “Ivy” Franco, MD, MPH, is a Radiation Oncologist and the Director of Equity, Access, and Inclusion at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)/ Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). She is also Vice-Chair of ASTRO’s Health Equity Education Committee which is part of the Society’s Council on Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Dr. Franco has a long trajectory of championing initiatives to decrease structural barriers and increase equitable access to high-quality care in underserved communities. She has a strong commitment and passion to serve her patients, community, and profession, through clinical, academic, and policy driven work that engages, empowers, and educates communities. She has served a key role in the creation and implementation of novel and innovative approaches to increase workforce diversity and deliver patient-centered care both inside and outside the hospital. Dr. Franco’s clinical interests are in addressing cancer health disparities, particularly in patients diagnosed with gynecologic malignancies. She has a goal to increase inclusive practices in clinical trial development and to expand the scope of clinical trial participants to be more reflective of the population of the United States as a whole. Dr. Franco has received several honors including the Eleanor Montague Distinguished Resident Award in Radiation Oncology from the American Association for Women in Radiology and the NIDDK/NHMA Academic Medicine Fellow for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She has also received two Pillars of Excellence Awards from BWH/DFCI and Massachusetts General Hospital for Integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as her role in creating the Radiation Oncology Intensive Shadowing Experience. She is also a recipient of a Minority Faculty Career Development Award from the BWH Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
“Members of the RTOGF community and its Board of Directors have generously donated to support this important program. The RTOGF believes that by training future leaders through the Health Equity Fellowship Program, we will expand the reach and the impact of our clinical trials, especially to underserved patient populations,” added Quynh-Thu Le, MD, FACR, FASTRO, Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University and Chair of the RTOG Foundation.
Sophia Kamran, MD, is a Radiation Oncologist with Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School. She is also the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Kamran’s clinical interest is in genitourinary cancer care with a focus on harnessing computational/bioinformatics approaches to discover genomic and molecular predictors of response to radiation and characterize mechanisms of resistance. Her goal is to design clinical trials investigating genomically-guided radiation therapy to deliver optimal doses in combination with appropriate systemic therapy for improved outcomes. Her separate research effort is on dissecting translational science in diverse populations, ensuring that these populations are not left behind in the fields of translational and personalized oncology. Dr. Kamran has several professional membership affiliations with organizations such as the American Urological Association, ASTRO, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the Radiation Research Society, the American College of Radiation Oncology, the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Board of Radiology, the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center Equity Council, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Massachusetts Prostate Cancer Coalition. Nationally, she serves on ASTRO's Workforce Diversity Committee, and she was selected as a 2021 ASTRO Leadership Pipeline Program Protégé for her work on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. She is the 2023 Co-Chair of the Renal & Rare Tumors Track for the ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, and the Organizing Chair for the 2023 Coffey-Holden Prostate Cancer Academy Meeting, sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Foundation. She is also on the NCI P01 Massachusetts General Hospital Internal Steering Committee, serves on the Editorial Board for Clinical Genitourinary Cancer, and previously served as Guest Editor for Advances in Radiotherapy for Prostate Cancer, Frontiers in Oncology. Her work has been published in many high-quality journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Clinical Cancer Research, JAMA Oncology, European Urology, and others. Dr. Kamran is actively involved in the NRG organization as the Translational Co-Chair of the NRG-GU012 clinical trial, the Massachusetts General Hospital Site Principal Investigator for the NRG-GU005 trial and is also a current member of the NRG New Investigators and Genitourinary Cancer Committees.
Anwaar Saeed, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Chief of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Saeed’s clinical research is focused on developmental therapeutics and immune modulatory approaches in gastrointestinal malignancies, specifically esophageal, gastric and colorectal cancer as well as immunoprevention in the high-risk gastrointestinal cancer populations. She is a prolific clinical researcher and multiple award winner. She has been successful in securing multiple research grants to support several novel immunotherapy oriented investigator-initiated clinical trials. Results from some of the early phase trials are supporting the development of larger trials including the ongoing pivotal trial (STELLAR 303) in patients with previously treated microsatellite stable colorectal cancer. She has also been actively engaged with the mentoring and education of her peers, students, residents, and post-doctoral fellows since 2017. She has previously served at the NCI Gastrointestinal Steering Committee Esophagogastric Task Force (EG TF) and is involved with multiple professional organizations including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, and the European Society for Medical Oncology. Dr. Saeed serves as the Vice Chair of the NSABP Foundation Colorectal Cancer Committee.
“The NSABP Foundation strongly supports this fellowship program and believes that it is essential that thought-leading organizations provide leadership in this domain. Training physician researchers who develop practice-changing studies is vital to influence care for those diagnosed with cancer,” said Norman Wolmark, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of NCI Cooperative Group Clinical Trials the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hillman Cancer Center and Chairman of the NSABP Foundation.
NRG looks forward to the contributions that stem from these fellows’ involvement in the program. If you would like to donate the NRG Health Equity Fellowship Program, please visit https://www.nrgoncology.org/Health-Equity.
About NRG Oncology
NRG Oncology conducts practice-changing, multi-institutional clinical and translational research to improve the lives of patients with cancer. Founded in 2012, NRG Oncology is a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit corporation that integrates the research of the legacy National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) programs. The research network seeks to carry out clinical trials with emphases on gender-specific malignancies, including gynecologic, breast, and prostate cancers, and on localized or locally advanced cancers of all types. NRG Oncology’s extensive research organization comprises multidisciplinary investigators, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, physicists, pathologists, and statisticians, and encompasses more than 1,300 research sites located world-wide with predominance in the United States and Canada. NRG Oncology is supported primarily through grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and is one of five research groups in the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network. www.nrgoncology.org
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with nearly 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. For information on radiation therapy, visit RTAnswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit our website and follow us on social media.
About NSABP Foundation
The NSABP Foundation designs, implements, manages, and publishes the findings of clinical trials to improve the care of people with breast or colorectal cancer. We manage a network of over 700 clinical sites that enroll their patients into our clinical trials. Founded in 1958 as the legacy National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), our goal is to identify and achieve opportunities for enhanced diagnostics, more precise and less debilitating treatments, and to develop clinical strategies for the prevention of cancer for those who are at risk. More information may be found on our website: nsabp.org
About RTOG Foundation
The RTOG Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving outcomes for cancer patients through the conduct of practice changing clinical trials. RTOGF collaborates with partners from industry and federally funded programs to support its research. RTOGF is the successor of the National Cancer Institute(NCI)-funded Radiation Therapy Oncology group that was organized in 1968 as a national clinical cooperative group for the purpose of conducting multicenter radiation therapy research and clinical investigations. It was part of the NCI-funded cooperative group program and managed by the American College of Radiology (ACR) from 1971 until 2014. During that time, it activated over 500 protocols, accrued more than 110,000 patients to cooperative group studies, and published over 1,000 papers reporting the results of its findings. RTOGF has continued its close relationship with ACR to engage in clinical trial research collaborations with a variety of industry partners and participates in Federal grant-funded research through its leadership in the NCI National Clinical Trial Network group NRG Oncology. www.rtog.org