Initial Report on Establishing Working Groups within the Head and Neck Cancer Committee

February 14 2023

Written by NRG Head & Neck Cancer Committee Chair Sue S. Yom, MD and Vice Chair Stuart J. Wong, MD

The NRG Oncology membership processes were revised last year to take place on an annually scheduled cycle. This led to a re-examination of the membership structure of the Head and Neck Cancer Committee. After review by the Committee Chair and Co-Chairs, it was decided to form several Working Groups, which will be populated from the annual membership call. 

Historically the Head and Neck Cancer Committee has had two such groups, the Head and Neck Surgery and Head and Neck Translational Science Working Groups. One additional Working Group was already in existence to support surgical quality assurance for the ongoing trial NRG-HN006. The reasons for formation of additional Working Groups were several. Primarily, as the complexity of the Committee’s work has grown, there is a need for greater support and assistance in the development, implementation, and ongoing conduct of protocols. Furthermore, these additional groups will enable greater development and mentorship of early-career and new investigators, foster inclusion and diversity of the Committee’s membership, and provide an opportunity to elevate innovations in science or organizational processes via the direct linkage of the WGs to Committee leadership.

The six new Working Groups that were formed include: Health Equity and Diversity, Patient-Reported Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness, Skin Cancer, Recurrent-Metastatic, Rare Tumors, and Previously Untreated Locoregionally Advanced. Inaugural chairs were appointed to each of the groups and given their initial charge. The areas that the new groups may address include helping to evaluate and refine developing study concepts, communications with scientific core and non-disease site committees, advising investigators on new or ongoing ancillary project concepts, assisting with translational grant applications, generating white papers and reviews with emphasis on group standards, and supporting accrual and quality of ongoing trials including issuance of educational materials or programs. It is hoped that the groups will elevate the productivity and profile of NRG Oncology.

The first call for applications to the Head and Neck Cancer Committee Working Groups was quite successful. There were 78 applications received, approximately 40% from women, of high quality and from a notable diversity of institutions and individuals. While some individuals who applied are not yet rostered as Head and Neck Cancer Committee members, they will be allowed to participate during this first year as non-rostered guests in the Working Groups, with the expectation that all Working Group members will be rostered in the Head and Neck Cancer General or Core Committee by the end of the next annual membership call.

For those who wish to engage more with the Head and Neck Cancer Committee, the Working Groups will offer an additional route for meeting other investigators and contributing ideas and energy to NRG Oncology. NRG Oncology members are encouraged to explore similar routes which may be available within other disease site and non-disease site committees.

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