What to look out for from NCRI in 2016

Much like last year, 2016 looks set to be a busy one for NCRI. Karen Kennedy, NCRI Director, gives an overview of the key plans and events that are on the cards for some of our collaborative activities in the year ahead.

Planning for the 2016 NCRI Cancer Conference has been underway for a while now – the NCRI Cancer Conference Scientific Committee, chaired by Professor Caroline Dive, have been hard at work pulling together an inspiring programme spanning basic science, translational and clinical research. As always, there will opportunities to showcase your research and receive feedback from your peers,  earn CPD credits, gain access to new data and presentations from around the world, and of course – network. Registration and abstract submission will open on the 4 April 2016. In the meantime you can browse our Conference website and see the internationally renowned speakers scheduled to speak.

» See who is speaking at the 2016 NCRI Cancer Conference (NCRI website)

We have over 50 Clinical Studies Groups (CSG) meetings planned throughout 2016 – this includes meetings between each of the 19 CSGs to keep oversight of and discuss ideas around developing clinical trials in the national portfolio, Annual Trials Meetings to give delegates an update on clinical trials in their speciality and international quinquennial Progress Reviews of CSG performance (international experts are part of the review panel and in 2016 two of our CSGs will be undergoing a quinquennial Progress Review: Primary Care and Head & Neck CSGs).

Our CSGs will continue their work with the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership domains to ensure effective sharing of research expertise in the 100,000 Genome Project. We will also be embarking on a new project in response to a recommendation from the Cancer Taskforce; working in collaboration with the NIHR CRN: Cancer to flag potentially practice changing clinical trials to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), enabling beneficial new treatments or approaches to be incorporated into standard practice at an earlier stage.

After a successful 18 month trial, 2016 will also see the return of the CSG Trainee Scheme which aims to give early career researchers experience of being part of a CSG. Recruitment for the second wave of the scheme will run in early April and further details will be posted on the CSG website.

» Find out more about the NCRI Clinical Studies Groups (NCRI webpage)

We announced the launch of the NCRI Cellular Molecular Pathology (CM-Path) initiative towards the end of last year, and following the recruitment call that went out shortly after this, we are now in the process of appointing the experts and members of the wider research community that will drive this initiative forward. Membership will be comprised of a chairperson, four workstream leads (one for each of the four workstreams: 1 – Skills and capacity; 2 – Clinical trials; 3 – Discovery; 4 – Technology and information), and workstream members. We look forward to announcing the membership soon and when this is in place we will be holding a launch meeting for members; an opportunity for them to share expertise and initial ideas about how best to support academic cellular molecular pathology in the UK through the NCRI CM-Path initiative.

» Find out more about NCRI CM-Path (NCRI webpage) 

In 2014 NCRI performed a scoping exercise on the potential role for NCRI in undertaking future initiatives to boost research in this area, including a consultation of key stakeholders in the field. The outcome was that whilst there is a need in this area, there are also challenges in identifying a clear course of collaborative action; for instance one of the key themes that emerged from the scoping exercise was the lack of a consistent definition of survivorship (it means different things to different people) which makes it difficult to define research gaps and promote research in the area.

At NCRI’s summer meeting in June 2015, there was a strong view amongst NCRI Partners that this topic should continue to be explored actively in 2015/16. The Cancer Taskforce report also includes a number of recommendations around survivorship, providing added impetus to coordinate activity in this area. We will therefore continue to explore this area of research in 2016 – actively engaging with researchers and patients to better understand the current research and funding landscape and identify opportunities for action, with the ultimate aim of coordinating research activity that will improve the quality of life of cancer patients. We’ll post further updates on this to our website in due course.

Last year, as a result of changes within the clinical research networks and the transfer of responsibility for consumer activity to the NCRI, we completed a comprehensive review of consumer involvement across all NCRI activities. A key outcome of the review was the establishment of the NCRI Consumer Forum, which replaced the former Consumer Liaison Group. The NCRI Consumer Forum has been ably led thus far by Richard Stephens in his role as interim NCRI Consumer Lead and it has been a hive of activity, which  looks set to continue into 2016. We regularly recruit for new members to the Forum, ensuring our consumer representation is relevant and bringing a fresh outlook and, following a recruitment call at the end of last year we will soon be appointing  some new consumer members to replace  those reaching the end of their term. And in the coming weeks we will need to advertise the Consumer Lead position, as Richard’s interim role comes to an end, having provided vision, leadership and direction for the Forum for nearly 12 months. Further information about this will be posted on our website in due course.

» Find out more about the NCRI Consumer Forum (NCRI webpage)

In order to keep the membership fresh and open for new expertise, the NCRI Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad) are rotating some of its consumer members and Workstream co-chairs who will take on their roles when the Chair and Deputy Chair also rotate their positions in April this year.

Late last year, CTRad outlined the concept of a ‘Centre of Excellence in Academic Radiation Oncology’ and invited radiotherapy research-active centres across the UK to participate in a self-evaluation exercise. We are currently analysing the collected data and evidence and are expecting to publish the results later in the year, to illustrate aspirational targets, encourage local discussions and enable individual centres to gauge their progress in a national context. We will also be publishing a review into molecular radiotherapy (MRT) research soon. The review is based on a survey on MRT research participation at UK universities and hospitals; it will highlight the challenges involved in developing MRT research projects, and recommendations to help move the national MRT research agenda forward.

Aswell as the usual twice-yearly proposals guidance meetings where investigators who have ideas for radiotherapy research are invited to present their proposals for open discussion and feedback from a panel of CTRad experts, there will also be a variety of meetings and workshops to promote collaborative working in radiotherapy research. Reports of most of these meetings will be made available on the CTRad website.

» Find out more about NCRI CTRad (NCRI webpage)

The NCRI Future of Surgery workshop series aims to bring the surgical research community together and influence the future of surgery research in cancer by running a series of workshops covering challenging and cross-specialty topics. Over the next two years NCRI, in partnership with Royal College of Surgeons of England will present five workshops. Workshop 1 will be held on 4 May 2016 in London and cover the topic of outcome measures in surgery studies, registration to attend this workshop is now open and further information can be found on the webpage below. The plans for the other workshops are still being developed by the NCRI Future of Surgery steering committee but we can now announce that workshop 2, on the topic of technology trials in surgery, will be held on 20 September in London, so be sure to save the date for this. Information on how to register to attend will be posted on our website shortly.

» Find out more about NCRI Future of Surgery workshop series  (NCRI webpage)