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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Smart Circle/RGS Labs International Award

Area(s) of Focus

Robert L. Comis, MD

Group Chair, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)
President and Chairman, Board of Directors
Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups (CCCG)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Current Research

The ECOG-ACRIN (E-A) Breast Committee performs correlative studies utilizing specimens obtained from patients participating in cutting-edge clinical trials and research studies. E-A investigators are currently pursuing multiple studies intended to: 1) Understand how a woman's ability to metabolize tamoxifen  may affect her response to therapy, 2) Determine whether immediate removal of the primary tumor after systemic treatment (chemotherapy) can improve outcome in metastatic breast cancer, 3) Determine whether resistance to hormone treatment can be overcome by the  addition of a new class of drug call HDAC inhibitors, and 4) Identify markers that would predict aromatase-inhibitor musculoskeletal symptoms (AIMSS), a side effect that leads to discontinuation of therapy with aromatase-inhibitors. These studies along, with ongoing studies from older ECOG trials, will expand our understanding of the causes and treatment of breast cancer, as well as the prevention of treatment side effects, and will lead to the discovery of new prognostic and predictive biomarkers to tailor patient care effectively.

In a separate project, Dr. Comis and BCRF and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG-ACRIN) colleagues Kathy Miller and Joseph Sparano are conducting studies to understand the contributions of the tumor and patient-related factors on late recurrences of breast cancer with the goal of identifying possible pharmacologic and/or lifestyle interventions to reduce risk. In 2013, The Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups (CCCG), a non-profit member organization of National Cancer Institute-sponsored Cooperative Groups, created the North American Breast Cancer Groups Biospecimen Bank for Determinants of Late Relapse in Operable Breast Cancer. It is a resource of archived primary and metastatic tumor tissue, blood and DNA collected from more than 15,000 women who participated in two large cooperative group cancer treatment trials, TAILORx and E5103. Drs. Comis, Miller and Sparano will use the biospecimen collection to identify any genetic differences that increase future risk of breast cancer relapse in previously treated patients, which could lead to the discovery of other new drugs and treatments. Importantly, the biorepository will be made available to researchers in the cooperative groups and across the scientific community, which will accelerate important discoveries that will improve breast cancer outcomes.


A leader in international clinical trials research since 1977, Robert Comis serves as President of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Research and Education Foundation; President of Alpha Oncology, a clinical research division of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups; and Chairman of eviti, an independent company that develops risk management strategies to improve medical and financial outcomes in catastrophic diseases. He is known as a champion of patient access to cancer clinical trials, spearheading initiatives to raise awareness about the pivotal role of cancer clinical trials in cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. He is a member of the Board of Directors for C-Change and the National Coalition for Cancer Research. Previous board positions include the American Radium Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He has also served ASCO in several other capacities, including as Chair of the Program Committee and a member of the Executive, Nominating, Audit, and Clinical Trials Workshop committees. While Chair of the Group Chairs for the NCI-funded Cooperative Group Program, he raised the international profile of the program and initiated efforts to strengthen and reposition it for the future. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research, and Clinical Cancer Research; authored more than 140 scientific articles; and contributed to more than 20 scientific and medical textbooks on cancer. His leadership in clinical research continues through frequent appearances as an expert to the US Congress, Institute of Medicine, President’s Cancer Panel, National Cancer Advisory Board, and many others.