The American Association of Cancer Institutes recently named Teresa Stewart to its Clinical Research Initiative Steering Committee. Stewart is the director of the Clinical Trials Office at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center and the executive director of the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance.
"Terri has done outstanding work in clinical trials, both at the UNM Cancer Center and at the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance," said Cheryl Willman, MD, director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. "She will bring a wealth of experience and excellent organizational and communication skills to this important role."
Comprised of 95 leading cancer research centers, the AACI organized its Clinical Research Initiative in 2009 to improve how Clinical Trials Offices in the United States manage clinical trials. Working with the Food and Drug Administration and the National Cancer Institute, the Clinical Research Initiative streamlined clinical trials reporting, enabling cancer centers to submit data more easily and inexpensively. As a member of the Clinical Research Initiative Steering Committee, Stewart will influence how the AACI addresses these and other important topics.
"The Steering Committee is looking at business integration—how to better budget and contract—and at regulatory aspects of starting up clinical research," says Ms. Stewart. "We're also going to tackle workload. Every center is a little different but we all face significant challenges."
Clinical trials are a critical step in translating research into cancer care. They allow researchers and clinicians to rapidly develop new therapies based on the most recent discoveries. But with the promise of innovative care comes the responsibility to deliver the highest standard of safe and effective care. Thus, clinical trials must strictly adhere to many medical, research and administrative requirements. Stewart is not only familiar with these requirements but also adept at leading organizations that systematically meet them.
The UNM Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office manages over 300 clinical trials each month. The New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance enables people throughout the state to participate in these and other clinical trials while continuing to see physicians in their own communities. By enrolling more patients, it also helps researchers to complete their studies and answer scientific questions more quickly. The NCI is now mandating programs nationwide based on New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance's model.
"The Steering Committee focuses on how can we make clinical trials more accessible and remain safe for humans, while working towards advances in cancer treatments, survivorship and ultimately cancer prevention," says Stewart. "That's the ultimate goal."