US NCI's global health initiatives at ASCO 2023

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Published: 9 Jun 2023
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Dr Satish Gopal - National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, USA

Dr Satish Gopal speaks to ecancer at ASCO 2023 about the work that the NCI has been doing in global health initiatives.

He explains that the NCI have been working together at ASCO this meeting in discussions surrounding LMICs on medicine access, clinical trial opportunities and building the global oncology research field.

We work closely with ASCO on a number of global initiatives. It is, of course, wonderful to be at a meeting that features work from all around the world and includes attendees from all around the world. We at the Centre for Global Health at the NCI coordinate much of the NCI’s global health engagement and have programmes that are really focussed on applied research and control in low and middle income countries. It’s really rewarding to see that featured more prominently at the ASCO meeting overall.

There are a number of things that we have worked on together with ASCO at this year’s meeting. This includes participation in some important discussions around medicine access, some very important discussions around clinical trial opportunities that we think exist in low and middle income countries and haven’t been adequately realised. We just came from a really important discussion about continuing to build the global oncology research field as a real academic discipline that includes both young investigators in the US who have interests in low and middle income countries as well as, very importantly, continued development of capacity among LMIC investigators and at LMIC institutions. 

So having the opportunity to participate in all of these discussions for us is really reinforcing of many of the things that we’re already doing at the NCI in partnership with ASCO and many other collaborators around the world. It's really fun to be able to have those conversations in person at this year’s meeting.

It’s great to see continued increase in representation in clinical trials. It’s important to note that at ASCO much of what makes the meeting so exciting is the opportunity to come and hear about trials of new therapies that are really going to change what we do in practice. People are increasingly calling out and realising that many of these major breakthroughs that we celebrate at the meeting don’t always have the global reach that we would want, particularly for patients in low and middle income countries. 

So there’s a whole variety of things that need to be addressed to make that happen. One is that the research has to be supported and this is a place where we can be very useful, as the NCI, and try to help support clinical trials that help drive clinical practice changes and policies globally, truly globally, including in low and middle income countries. 

It’s important to note that two of the four plenary talks this year were trials that were supported by the NCI. These are American tax-payer public investments that are really leading to results that are very patient centred and generating the kind of evidence that really matters to patients and might not be generated in the same way through other sources. There’s a lot of opportunity to do that kind of work and support that kind of work from the NCI, together with other partners in low and middle income countries. Doing that will help meetings like ASCO, increasingly in the future, really showcase trials that are really going to have impact for patients everywhere. Historically, the benefits of meetings like ASCO have accrued to a relatively small segment of the world’s population and it’s terrific to see that acknowledged and to see some real dedicated problem solving around how to address that going forward.