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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Lewis P. Janowsky Memorial Award

Area(s) of Focus

Robert L. Comis, MD

President and Chairman, Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups
Group Co-Chair, ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Current Research

The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) Breast Committee performs correlative studies utilizing specimens obtained from patients participating in cutting-edge clinical trials and research studies. ECOG-ACRIN 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 called HDAC inhibitors, and 4) identify markers that will 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-ACRIN 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 colleagues Kathy D. Milller and Joseph A. 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, a non-profit member organization for the 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 being 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 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 across the scientific community, which will accelerate important discoveries that will improve breast cancer outcomes.


A leader in international clinical trials research since 1977, Dr. Comis 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. As Group Co-Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, he is responsible for its entire scientific program, overseeing the design and conduct of biomarker-driven research involving adults who have or are at risk of developing cancer. Throughout his career as a practicing medical oncologist and clinical researcher, Dr. Comis served on the boards of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Radium Society, C-Change, and the National Coalition for Cancer Research; the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research, and Clinical Cancer Research; authored more than 150 scientific articles, and contributed to more than 20 scientific and medical textbooks on cancer. His leadership in clinical research continues through his membership on the NCI National Clinical Trials Leadership Management Committee and  frequent appearances as an expert to the US Congress, Institute of Medicine, President’s Cancer Panel, National Cancer Advisory Board, and many others.