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SWOG Gynecological Cancer Committee

A Rivkin Center grant revitalizes focus

In 2008, the Rivkin Center awarded a $250,000, five-year grant to the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) for the purpose of reactivating its Gynecologic Cancer Committee (GCC). This grant, made to the philanthropic arm of SWOG, the Hope Foundation, deferred expenses associated with the start-up of this committee, including costs associated with coordination of education and research initiatives. The reactivation of the GCG revitalized the SWOG’s focus on gynecologic malignancies and aligned with the Rivkin Center’s mission to save lives and reduce suffering through improved treatment, early detection, and prevention of ovarian cancer.

The importance of clinical trials

Saul Rivkin, MD, medical oncologist at Swedish Medical Center and founder of the Rivkin Center, is an avid supporter of clinical trials. A member of SWOG since 1972, Dr. Rivkin says that all major advances in cancer care have come about through clinical trials. Dr. Rivkin knows the importance of clinical trials in his personal life, as well as his professional life. In 1989, his wife, Marsha, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Marsha participated in a number of clinical trials, including a trial investigating Taxol, which, at the time, was an experimental chemotherapy compound; it’s since been approved for use in ovarian, breast, and lung cancer treatment. She also participated in a clinical trial to receive a bone marrow transplant through Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. As Dr. Rivkin says, clinical trials were our best hope for successful treatment. Although Marsha passed away in 1993, Dr. Rivkin continues his dedication to finding treatments for ovarian cancer and says, in those days we only had a handful of drugs available, but thanks to past clinical trials like the ones Marsha participated in, we now have more choices for patients and their doctors.

The renewal of SWOG’s GCC enhanced the Rivkin Center’s mission of improved treatment by providing a necessary and critically important vehicle for clinical research of new therapies in the treatment of all gynecologic malignancies. The focus of the committee was working with medical oncologists on innovative phase I/II and phase II trials. This focus presented a vehicle for moving crucial discoveries made within the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Ovarian SPOREs to clinical research more quickly. These phase I/II and phase II trials centered on oncogene and suppressor gene targeted therapies for gynecologic malignancies.

The work of the SWOG committee

Maurie Markman, MD, professor and vice president of clinical research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was named the Rivkin Chair of the GCC. The revitalization of the Committee has been met with great enthusiasm from the research community, from within SWOG and from the NCI. The GCC will allow us to work with both medical oncologists and gynecologic oncologists involved in the care of women with gynecologic cancer, said Dr. Markman.

The Southwest Oncology Group (www.swog.org) is one of the largest cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the United States. Funded by research grants from the National Cancer Institute, the group conducts clinical trials to prevent and treat cancer in adults and to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. The group is a network of over 5,000 physician-researchers who practice at nearly 550 institutions, including 18 NCI-designated cancer centers. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI (734-998-7130), the group has an operations office in San Antonio, TX, and a statistical center in Seattle, WA. Clinical trials are the backbone of cancer care advancement, and the Rivkin Center was proud to partner with SWOG in this effort.

More research grants and awards

Learn about the other research grants we’ve awarded.

Nora Disis
The Rivkin Center plays an important role in fueling ovarian cancer research and has invested over 9 million dollars in support of original research and young investigators.
Dr. Mary L. (Nora) Disis,
Scientific and Medical Director