Journal of Clinical Oncology Fosters the Development of Early-career Researchers through Support of Conquer Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Awards

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The Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology is dedicated to funding breakthrough research and sharing cutting-edge knowledge, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) shares this commitment: It is ranked as the most widely read oncology journal worldwide, with a mission to serve readers as the most credible, authoritative resource for disseminating significant clinical oncology research.

What may be surprising is that for more than a decade, JCO has joined the Foundation in its commitment to fund breakthrough research by annually supporting a Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Young Investigator Award.

Collaborating to Cultivate Oncology Research

The Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Young Investigator Award (YIA) is a 1-year grant designed to encourage and promote high-quality research in clinical oncology by providing funds to promising investigators during the transition from a fellowship program to a faculty appointment. The awards provide critical early-career research funding—an increasing rarity in the current research funding environment—and have served as a springboard for hundreds of productive and prolific oncology research careers since the first YIA was presented in 1984.

JCO’s support of the YIA program began in 1997, sparked by a suggestion from George Canellos, MD, during his tenure as ASCO President as an opportunity for the Journal to encourage researchers at the beginning of their careers. 

“JCO prides itself in publishing the very best practice-changing research in oncology,” said Stephen A. Cannistra, MD, Editor-in-Chief ofJCO. “There is no better way to ensure that such research continues than to foster the development of early-career investigators who are dedicated to improving the lives of patients with cancer.”

Supporting young investigators is a sort of cultivation, providing support for the next generation of oncologists to build a strong pipeline of quality research for the future, and the investment ofJCO and other YIA supporters is paying off. A recent survey of past YIA and Career Development Award (CDA) winners with 562 respondents (a 70% response rate) showed that the overwhelming majority—more than 99%—remain in research careers, with more than 91% reporting that their Conquer Cancer Foundation grant was “Important” or “Very Important” to their careers.

YIA Recipient Explores New Treatments for Melanoma

Michael Postow, MD, is the 2013 recipient of the YIA supported by Journal of Clinical Oncology. He is currently a fellow in hematology and oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and the title of his research project is “Combining Ipilimumab with Radiotherapy for Patients with Metastatic Melanoma.”

Dr. Postow hopes that the results from this trial may help researchers better understand the immunologic effects of radiotherapy and how therapeutic radiation may be best partnered with immunotherapy for patients with cancer. He officially received his YIA at the Conquer Cancer Foundation Grants & Awards Ceremony at the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Foundation’s Grants & Awards Program.

Launchpad for Success

JCO’s Young Investigator Award has a track record of launching successful careers. The first recipient in 1997 was Jeffrey Dome, MD, who is now the Chief of the Division of Oncology at Children’s National Medical Center. The 2007 recipient, Donald Williams Parsons, MD, PhD, has the most cited YIA-funded research paper in the past 5 years (with over 1,000 citations) on his work identifying IDH1 mutations in glioblastoma.

The trend of success is continuing with more recent recipients, as well. The 2010 recipient, Christopher Lieu, MD, received a 2013 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Career Development Award and the 2011 recipient, Samantha Jaglowski, MD, presented her YIA research at an oral session at the 2012 ASCO Annual Meeting.

“Supporting the developing careers of young researchers is vital to making advances in cancer care,” said Nancy R. Daly, MS, MPH, Executive Director of the Conquer Cancer Foundation. “As funding becomes increasingly scarce, we are grateful that our colleagues at JCO rise to the challenge each year to help establish another budding investigator’s career.”

As Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Cannistra has an ambitious goal for theJCO-funded young investigators:

“When JCO supports an early-career investigator through the Conquer Cancer Foundation, I not only see someone who will contribute to cancer research, but I see someone who may also produce work that will someday merit publication in one of the best oncology journals in the world, namely JCO,” said Dr. Cannistra. “The ability to be part of that process makes me very proud as Editor-in-Chief.”

It’s certainly a strong possibility—since 2008 more than fifty research studies directly funded by Conquer Cancer Foundation grants have been published in JCO. ■

© 2013. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.