July 21, 2021:

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium recently appointed Nancy Chan, MD (pictured right), a medical oncologist from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and Sneha Phadke, DO, MPH, (pictured left), a medical oncologist from University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, as co-chairs of Big Ten CRC’s Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Working Group (CTWG).

Their leadership supports collaboration and mentorship within the working group, as well as development of Big Ten CRC breast cancer clinical trials from conception to completion. CTWG co-chairs serve two-year terms that are renewable. Co-chairs are responsible to develop agendas and facilitate for the working group.

As a member of the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute, Dr. Chan is a site PI and co-investigator of several National Institutes of Health-funded studies. Her expertise is in developing novel agents through early phase clinical trials with a concentration in breast cancer.

Dr. Phadke is a co-leader of the breast multidisciplinary oncology group (MOG) at University of Iowa. In this role, Dr. Phadke writes protocols and facilitates introduction of new clinical trials and which direction to take with research projects. She has a particular interest in population health and public health initiatives that aim to improve the health of Iowans.

Drs. Chan and Phadke credit the group’s former co-chairs, Kari Wisinski, MD, of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, and Kent Hoskins, MD, of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, for establishing a collegial and social environment for collaboration.

“We’ve been watching the previous co-leaders who came before us, and they’ve done such a good job in making sure that the group is collaborative,” Dr. Chan said. “We want to continue this tradition, especially to help young members generate more innovative concepts. Everyone’s opinion counts and that atmosphere has been set by our predecessors.”

Dr. Phadke, who received her medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, said she wants to build upon the success of the former co-chairs.

“I’d like to attract and recruit more people from other Big Ten universities – to make the group as representative as possible,” she said. “For young investigators who are interested in clinical trials, the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is a great way to get involved.”

When Dr. Phadke joined the faculty at University of Iowa in 2016, she plugged into the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and became acquainted with former Big Ten CRC chief scientific officer Ruth O’Regan, MD, who now serves as chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester. Upon meeting them at ASCO and the Big Ten CRC meeting, Dr. Wisinski asked her if she would serve as the junior PI on a study and help write a protocol.

“It’s really been instrumental in my career development to have Kari as a mentor,” Dr. Phadke said. “I think it’s interesting to have mentors outside of your institution because you get to see how things are done elsewhere and you have almost twice the support and twice the number of people who can help with things like statistics and research coordination.”

Dr. Chan had a similar experience when she joined Rutgers and became involved with the Big Ten CRC.

“The Big Ten CRC greatly contributed to my development as an investigator,” said Dr. Chan, who received her medical degree from Stony Brook School of Medicine. “As a young investigator, we were always matched with a senior mentor on a project, so that the project had a lot of guidance put into it.”

She said she is grateful for the support she has received as a sponsor-investigator through the Big Ten CRC, from identifying sources for grant funding to multi-institutional support translational research.

“We’re very lucky to have clinical investigators and translational scientists in our group when we put our heads together for our study concepts,” she said. “I feel really well supported within the Consortium for my trials. There’s a whole team involved to support you – from protocol design to the correlative scientists—to guiding meetings and protocol changes.”

Dr. Chan says both experienced and young investigators can benefit from their involvement in the Breast Cancer CTWG.

“I think there’s something for everyone, no matter what stage you are in your career, and that’s very exciting for a group like this,” Dr. Chan said. “Young investigators will find a wealth of knowledge in senior investigators who are very eager to mentor you, and senior investigators have a lot of young clinical investigators who are very enthusiastic, hardworking, and innovative, and ready to jump on projects and work together.”

Dr. Phadke agrees and said senior investigators who have a lot of ideas and not as much time, could look to their group and younger investigators to help flesh out research concepts.

“It’s a way to get your research concepts potentially into clinical trials more quickly than through a larger cooperative group,” Dr. Phadke said.

Along with increasing participation from all Big Ten CRC sites, they hope to continue to engage with pharmaceutical colleagues and work more efficiently to move studies through each stage, so they can enroll participants quickly at multiple sites.

Learn more about the Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Working Group.


About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.