February 1, 2021:

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium recently appointed Elisavet Paplomata, MD, assistant professor of hematology/oncology at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, and Eugenia Girda, MD, FACOG, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, as new co-chairs of the Big Ten CRC’s Gynecologic Clinical Trial Working Group.

Their leadership will support collaboration and mentoring opportunities within the working group, and will guide the development of Big Ten CRC gynecologic clinical trials, from initial LOI submission, review, and approval, to expert feedback throughout the life of each ongoing study, and final publication.

A researcher at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, Dr. Paplomata (pictured left), specializes in breast and gynecologic malignancies and is board certified in hematology, internal medicine, and medical oncology. Her focus is on drug development and testing of novel treatments for breast and gynecologic cancers, and she has a strong interest in precision medicine. Dr. Paplomata joined the University of Wisconsin in February 2020 and serves as a primary investigator and co-investigator in clinical trials and is part of the phase I team and basket trial team. She is also a member of the precision medicine department, where she will be able to analyze molecular testing and participate in molecular tumor board recommendations to support targeted therapies based on mutations. Dr. Paplomata previously worked at Emory University, where she conducted similar research. She completed her fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at Emory University, Winship Cancer Institute; her residency at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital; and her medical degree at University of Istanbul, Cerrahpasa School of Medicine, Turkey.

Dr. Girda (pictured right) is a gynecologic oncologist at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey who is part of the phase I research team at the institute and collaborates with oncology experts across RWJBarnabas Health. As a lead in gynecologic cancers at the Rutgers Cancer Institute, she has clinical expertise in cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, vulvar cancer, and ovarian cancer. In her work, Dr. Girda conducts minimally invasive surgery, such as robotic-assisted surgery and advanced laparoscopy, as well as more complex surgeries. Dr. Girda is also a member of the Precision Medicine and Developmental Therapeutics Program at the Rutgers Cancer Institute. She serves as a primary investigator and a co-investigator in multiple early and late phase clinical trials. She has experience in developing new agents through phase I clinical trials in solid tumors, including using targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and first-in-human compounds. She is currently working on developing investigator-initiated concepts using combinatorial strategies of checkpoint inhibitors with novel therapeutics and continues to expand the clinical trial portfolio at the institute. Dr. Girda completed her gynecologic oncology fellowship at the University of California Davis, her residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, and her medical degree at the State University of New York, Stony Brook School of Medicine.

“I’m very honored to be a co-chair of this group,” Dr. Paplomata said. “Opening studies through the Big Ten was part of the attraction, coming here to UW. It’s a great platform for investigators, especially young investigators, to introduce investigator-initiated trials that will be available to many patients across multiple institutions.”

Dr. Girda shares Dr. Paplomata’s sentiments and is eager to help lead the group.

“I hope to make it an active and productive experience and look forward to hearing ideas from others and sharing mine,” Dr. Girda said. “The GYN population across all disease sites is a population of great unmet need in both upfront and recurrent settings. These tumors tend to recur and they become more and more challenging to treat.”

Dr. Paplomata would like to bring more precision medicine to trials through molecular testing.

“Molecular testing is an area that is now gaining speed in gynecologic cancer, so there’s a huge opportunity to offer precision medicine, basket trials that are based on mutations and biomarkers,” Dr. Paplomata said. “It is definitely a huge opportunity to offer patients better, less toxic treatments with personalized therapy.”

Both investigators recognize the synergy that can happen when investigators team up through the Big Ten CRC.

“What attracted me is the opportunity to collaborate with institutions,” Dr. Girda said. “It’s very difficult to run early phase trials at a single institution. I think it’s always better to have collaborations to expedite the progression of drug therapy. I also think it’s important to create mentoring opportunities.”

Dr. Paplomata agrees and said the Big Ten CRC is a great platform for young investigators to introduce concepts for multi-center investigator-initiated trials.

“For a young investigator, it’s not easy to design a clinical trial, Dr. Paplomata said, “but through the Big Ten CRC, a young investigator has the opportunity to develop investigator-initiated trials that address good scientific questions and correlatives and help in drug development.”

Clinical Trial Working Group co-chairs typically serve two-year terms that are renewable. They are responsible for developing agendas and topics as well as facilitating meetings and teleconferences for their group. Together, these investigators leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities and share resources to develop novel research studies.


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.