ASCO Connection

July 2017

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ASCO REMEMBERS Clinical Research Champion Dr. Robert L. Comis A SCO and the oncology community are deeply saddened by the loss of Robert L. Comis, MD, FASCO, who passed away on May 10, 2017. Dr. Comis was a powerful voice in support of clinical trials, cooperative group research, and patient advocacy throughout his career. "Bob helped create the cooperative group enterprise that brought so many advances to patients. He was remark- ably talented as a physician, scientist, mentor, and leader, and as a musician, too! Our community is what it is thanks to his selfless dedication, and we will miss him dearly," said ASCO CEO Clif- ford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO. A leader in international clinical tri- als research since 1977, Dr. Comis was intrinsically involved in the history and evolution of the National Cancer Insti- tute (NCI) Cooperative Groups program from its beginning. An early member of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), in 1995 he took the position of group chair of the Eastern Coopera- tive Oncology Group (ECOG). In 2012, ECOG merged with the Ameri- can College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) to form the ECOG- ACRIN Cancer Research Group, where Dr. Comis served as group co-chair together with Mitchell D. Schnall, MD, PhD. Dr. Comis envisioned the merger as an opportunity to create a new type of research organization with comple- mentary therapeutic and medical imag- ing strengths. ECOG-ACRIN designs and conducts biomarker-driven cancer research in adults, with the goal of achieving earlier cancer detection, more successful therapeutic interventions, higher rates of prevention, and better patient outcomes. Most recently, Dr. Comis cemented the group's capabilities in precision medicine, as ECOG-ACRIN investigators designed and are now con- ducting the NCI-MATCH (EAY131) trial. His advocacy for the clinical research enterprise included not only investiga- tors, but fully encompassed patients and the public as well. Dr. Comis was known as a champion of patient access to cancer clinical trials, and led mul- tiple initiatives to raise awareness about the necessity of clinical research in improving prevention, detection, and treatment. In his role as chair of the group chairs of the NCI Coopera- tive Groups, he raised the international profile of the program and worked to strengthen it for the future, so that everyone affected by cancer might benefit from the advances made pos- sible by innovative, well-conducted studies and evidence-based medicine. An ASCO member since 1984, Dr. Comis was an active volunteer within the Society, serving on the Board of Directors from 2001 to 2004. He served as chair of the Nominating and Audit Committees and as a subcom- mittee chair on the Scientific Program Committee, and a member of numer- ous others. He was honored as a Fellow of ASCO (FASCO) in 2008 in recogni- tion of his volunteer contributions. Dr. Comis also served on the Boards of Directors of the American Radium Society, C-Change, and the National Coalition for Cancer Research; on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research, and Clinical Cancer Research; and as a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Hematology and Oncology. A graduate of Fordham University, Dr. Comis earned his medical degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center School of Medicine, where he also completed his medical internship and residency. He served as a staff associate at the NCI and completed a medical oncology fel- lowship at The Sidney Farber Cancer Center at Harvard Medical School. He held various clinical practice and research leadership positions at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Temple University School of Medicine, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Allegh- eny Cancer Center before joining the faculty at Drexel University as a profes- sor of medicine, a position he held at the time of his passing. ā€¢ FEATURES 44ā€‚Iā€‚07.2017

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