Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology

Dr. Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, Division Chief of BWH Surgical Oncology serves as a Group Chair for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology; the group institutions include Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology is an NCI-funded cancer cooperative group formed in 2011 by the merger of the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, and the North Central Cancer Treatment Group. The Alliance conducts clinical trials to validate new strategies to prevent and treat a broad range of cancers. To do this, the Alliance provides a scientific and operational infrastructure for innovative clinical and translational research in the academic and community settings.

Alliance research is highly multidisciplinary, and in addition to validating new treatments, its research also integrates translational endpoints within clinical trials to further our understanding of the biological basis of the cancer process and its treatment.

The Alliance scientific structure is disease-centered and multi-modality. Nine multidisciplinary disease committees form the core scientific planning group of the Alliance. These committees include the following: Breast, Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma, Neuro-Oncology, Respiratory, and Experimental Therapeutics.

The Experimental Therapeutics Committee provides a scientific interface with non-Alliance early stage trials (phase I, early phase II) and also coordinates Alliance trials for rare cancers. Current examples of these include trials for patients with soft tissue sarcomas and malignant parotid tumors. Modality committees, e.g. Radiation Oncology, Oncology Nursing, Patient Advocates, support multidisciplinary participation throughout all Alliance programs. In addition, five programs manage both scientific and operational activities of the group.  These programs include:

  • Statistics and Data Management
  • Central Protocol Operations
  • Translational Research
  • Cancer Control
  • American College of Surgeons Clinical Research Program. 

Each program interacts in some fashion with all of the disease committees. For example, each Disease Committee requires the involvement of biostatistics (Statistics and Data Management Program), protocol development and study concept review (Central Protocol Operations Program), biomarker development and biorepository support (Translational Research Program), and cancer control research and community oncology participation (Cancer Control Program). The fifth program, the American College of Surgeons Clinical Oncology Program, integrates the clinical trials work of the Alliance with the health care quality initiatives of the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer.

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