One of the challenges to progress in cancer treatment is the difficulty in identifying and enrolling adequate numbers of patients with rare diseases or with specific, targetable, genetic mutations on clinical trials to achieve statistical significance. This is especially true for hematologic malignancies since the incidence and prevalence of these cancers is relatively low. In addition, the identification of distinct genetic sub-populations within specific malignancies that might be better treated with targeted therapies further limits the number of patients that might be available for clinical trials. Thus, successful recruitment of subjects in a timely manner will require collaboration between institutions to perform quality multi-center clinical trials. A UC medical center wide consortium in Hematologic Malignancies will act as a mechanism to accelerate the testing of novel therapeutic agents. Our consortium is designed to eliminate redundancy and waste (time, effort, costs) in the development and review process of clinical research protocols, unite outstanding laboratory and clinical scientists in Hematologic Malignancies from the various UC campuses, unify the contracting process with sponsoring institutions to speed contractual agreements, increase the speed of protocol accrual and the likelihood of trial completion, and facilitate the publication of discoveries from this multi-institutional group.
The University of California Hematologic Malignancies Consortium (UCHMC), under the direction of UC San Diego’s Matthew Wieduwilt, MD, PhD, is a recently launched collaboration between physicians conducting clinical research at the five UC Cancer Centers in response to the need for access to larger patient populations for hematologic malignancy trials. The UCHMC will allow for the creation, development, and implementation of investigator-initiated clinical trials with a sufficient number of patients to produce scientifically valuable results. The UCHMC will also allow UC investigators to be more competitive when applying for funding of proposed investigator-initiated trials as the opportunity to have their drug or product used in a larger, multicenter trial is very attractive to the pharmaceutical industry sponsors. With the establishment of the UCHMC, we plan for improved clinical trial implementation across UC cancer centers and to establish precedence for inter-university collaboration through the consortium. The UC system, with its 5 medical centers, common governing system (UCOP), UC Braid (central contracting), UC Reliance (central IRB) and a large and diverse population of patients, is uniquely positioned to develop and execute multi-center clinical trials in a timely and cost-effective manner to the benefit of researchers, sponsors and most importantly, patients throughout the state of California. The UCHMC is currently conducting one investigator-initiated trial with 3 additional studies planned for 2015 and holding monthly teleconferences and in person meetings to further growth and development of the consortium.