Conquer Cancer Foundation Recognizes Global Oncology Researchers With International Innovation Grant

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The Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) of ASCO recently announced the recipients of its 2017 International Innovation Grant. The 1-year grant of up to $20,000, given directly to each awardee’s nonprofit organization or government agency, funds research projects aimed at improving cancer care in low- and middle-income countries that have the potential to be transferable to settings in other developing countries. This year, four International Innovation grants were awarded and will support innovative projects in Peru, Lebanon, Mexico, and Nigeria, focusing on the early diagnosis of childhood cancer, toxicity management, and enhancement of palliative care.

“These deserving recipients are working to address the specific needs of their communities, but their discoveries will also broaden our global understanding of cancer care,” said Thomas G. Roberts, Jr, MD, Chair of the Conquer Cancer Foundation Board of Directors. “Whether their International Innovation Grant projects encourage adherence or result in early diagnosis, they are collectively bringing us another step closer to realizing our vision of a world free from the fear of cancer.”

2017 Grant Winners

The projects selected for the 2017 International Innovation Grants are:

Raya Saab, MD, American University of Beirut Medical Center
Targeted education for general practitioners with development and application of a workflow for rapid second opinion, to promote early diagnosis and referral of children with suspected solid tumors

The late diagnosis of pediatric cancers, especially cancers with solid tumors, is common in low-resource settings, negatively affecting outcomes of otherwise likely curable tumors. Specific to Lebanon, the prevalence of children with advanced tumors is due to delayed diagnoses, especially for children living outside of Beirut. There are a number of reasons for a missed early diagnosis, including a delay in seeking medical care, little experience diagnosing childhood cancers, and financial barriers.

This study aims to address these issues by increasing education efforts for pediatricians about solid tumors, simplifying a pediatrician’s access to a pediatric oncologist, and alleviating cost barriers for diagnostic referrals. To accomplish this, researchers will conduct a series of workshops for primary health-care practitioners located throughout the country; design a more streamlined method of communication for primary care providers and pediatric oncologists; and expedite the diagnostic test process.

Liliana Vasquez, MD, AMEROM (Medical Association of Clinical Oncology of Peru)
ONCO-PEDS (Pediatric-Early-Diagnosis-System): A novel mobile application for early diagnosis and referral in childhood cancer

In Peru, children first seen by a general physician are at a higher risk of a late cancer diagnosis because of the unfamiliarity with these disease types.1 Because of this, an early cancer diagnosis for children in Peru is difficult, leading to delayed referrals and worse prognoses.

To address this problem, researchers plan to introduce a mobile application that will facilitate more timely consultations for children with a suspected cancer diagnosis. Additionally, the mobile application will help to improve communication among physicians nationally, act as a data-collection tool, and assist with proper emergency diagnoses.

Saul Campos Gomez, MD, MSc, Centro Oncológico Estatal ISSEMYM
Remote management of oral chemotherapy: Development and assessment of an e-tool for adherence and management of toxicities for a Mexican Public Health System

With the development of new oral therapies brings new challenges, especially in some developing countries. For ISSEMYM, the public health system in Mexico with the largest population, patients with low incomes and long travel times to facilities have had difficulties with adherence and communicating symptoms or side effects with their health-care team.

Researchers in this study will monitor patients with renal cancers and their symptoms through an e-tool and educational program, which will allow patients to communicate with health-care providers without leaving their homes. Health-care providers can then adjust the patients’ treatment in real time to improve symptom management and adherence. If the program proves effective, ISSEMYM hopes to adopt this tool for oral therapy management across disease types.

Tonia Onyeka, MBBS, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus
Enhancing palliative care in rural southeast Nigeria: Use of an app for symptom management

Two key components of cancer treatment are symptom and side-effect management, which often involve managing pain. Due to a plethora of reasons, including lack of transportation, long travel time, and finances, some patients opt out of these vital follow-up visits, making pain management and accurate symptom reporting difficult.

To help combat this, researchers in this study will track patients’ symptoms through a mobile app in conjunction with in-person appointments to help facilitate symptom management, appointment attendances, correct medication use, and overall improvement in patient care. This will be the first attempt to integrate mobile health (mHealth) technology use in Nigeria, and the project aims to improve knowledge and awareness of palliative care among patients and caregivers.

To learn more about the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO International Innovation Grant, visit CONQUER.ORG/innovation. The grant application period for the 2018 International Innovation Grant will open on July 1, 2017. ■


1. Vasquez L, Oscanoa M, Tello M, et al: Factors associated with the latency to diagnosis of childhood cancer in Peru. Pediatr Blood Cancer 63:1959-1965, 2016.

© 2017. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.