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BCRF Grantee Since


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

Project 1: On behalf of Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups
Co-Investigators: Joseph A. Sparano, MD, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY and Kathy D. Miller, MD, Indianapolis University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN

The Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups oversees the Breast Cancer Late Relapse Biorepository, which was established in 2013 to store and catalogue biospecimens that will be collected over the next several years from women who have survived early-stage breast cancer and who had previously participated in two large cooperative group cancer treatment trials, TAILORx and E5103. The biorepository will contain primary and metastatic tumor specimens, blood specimens, and germline DNA, for example. More than 15,000 women participated in these two trials. Researchers in the CCCG will study the biospecimen collection to determine whether there are genetic differences that put women at risk for a recurrence of the disease later in their lives. Such a finding could lead to the discovery of other new drugs and treatments for patients with breast cancer in the future. In addition, the biorepository will be made available to researchers in the cooperative groups and across the scientific community.

BCRF supports offsets the costs associated with study coordinators to identify potentially eligible patients and notify the local sites where they received their treatment on a monthly basis; sites to present the sub-study and obtain consent; biospecimen distributor to ship biospecimen collection kits to the sites of consented patients; sites to collect the biospecimens and ship the samples to the central biorepository; laboratory coordination; and program management for these activities.

Project 2: On behalf of Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)

Breast Committee continues to perform correlative laboratory studies attached to clinical trials and research studies utilizing specimens obtained and stored from patients participating in ECOG trials. Current active trials supported by BCRF seek to determine if there is a link between a woman's ability to metabolize tamoxifen and her progression-free survival from metastatic breast cancer (E3108 trial), to determine whether, after systemic therapy for metastatic disease, immediate removal of the primary tumor confers survival benefit more than the current practice of waiting to do the surgery (E2108 trial), and to identify markers which would predict aromatase-inhibitor musculoskeletal symptoms (AIMSS trial) which lead to discontinuation of adjuvant therapy with aromatase inhibitors in 30% of treated patients (E1Z11 trial). Additionally, specimens archived from older ECOG trials continue to provide resources for current research necessary to expand the understanding of the causes and treatment of breast cancer.

Mid-Year Summary

Project 1: The Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups is overseeing the establishment of a “late-relapse biorepository,” the objective of which is to create a plasma, serum and tissue bank for evaluating determinants of late relapse of operable breast cancer. As of January 15, 2014, the effort has increased in momentum and the volume of activity has been significant. Over 700 patients have contributed more than 2400 biospecimens. Nearly 2000 biospecimen collection kits have been shipped to participating sites in preparation for the additional numbers of patients that will join the study in the coming months.

Project 2: Examples of the BCRF-supported ECOG-ACRIN Breast Committee projects now underway include: exploring biomarkers associated with taxane neuropathy, hypertension, and treatment response; and establishment of predictive and prognostic biomarker profiles.


Dr. Robert L. Comis, President and Chairman of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, is Group Chair of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), and Professor of Medicine and Director of the Drexel University Clinical Trials Research Center in Philadelphia, PA.

A leader in international clinical trials research since 1977, Dr. Comis is a champion for patient access to cancer clinical trials, spearheading multiple initiatives to raise awareness about the pivotal role of cancer clinical trials in cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Dr. Comis is a member, Board of Directors, of C-Change and the National Coalition for Cancer Research. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research, and Clinical Cancer Research. His previous board positions include the American Radium Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where he served the society in a variety of other capacities including the Executive Committee, Chair of the Program, Nominating and Audit committees, and Steering Committee for the Clinical Trials Workshop.