City of Hope’s Arti Hurria, M.D., will lead the launch of the nation’s premier series of conferences funded by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Aging to focus on research on cancer and aging.
|Arti Hurria strives to bring better cancer care to older adults. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
Hurria, director of City of Hope’s Cancer and Aging Research Program in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, is principal investigator on the $250,000 U13 conference grant. The project supports three conferences over five years. The first conference takes place in Chicago on Sept. 25 and 26 in conjunction with fall meetings of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, a national research group.
The conferences bring together National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers along with members of the Cancer and Aging Research Group, multidisciplinary experts united by one central mission: improving the standard of care for elderly patients with cancer. Since it began meeting formally in 2007, the group has grown from a small selection of geriatricians and oncologists to include clinical social workers, psychiatrists, basic scientists, health disparities researchers and more.
Geriatric oncology is a specialized field, but it may have a significant impact on cancer care. About 60 percent of cancer diagnoses and 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in patients older than 65, Hurria said. Yet scientists know too little about the best ways to treat these patients, because older patients are underrepresented in national clinical trials.
Regular meetings among experts will help by giving them a shared vision and plan for the research road ahead.
“These conferences will operate on a different model: We’ll go through research methodology in geriatric oncology, and then only briefly cover what we already know within the field,” Hurria said. “We primarily will talk about what we don’t know — and what we need to do to get that knowledge within 10 years.”
Topics will range widely, from informed consent in clinical studies among senior patients to how to incorporate biological markers of aging into clinical trials.
Once group members determine specific knowledge gaps in geriatric oncology, the NIH can then issue requests for applications so researchers can find answers to these questions.
Hurria noted that the conferences will include a mentoring component as well: Junior researchers will be asked to present their questions and perspectives as part of the meetings. And the conferences and their findings will be shared through video, the Web and symposia, allowing for wide dissemination to those who cannot attend, she said.
Co-principal investigators on the grant include William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and Supriya Mohile, M.D., of the University of Rochester.