April 11 2022
NRG Oncology, a National Cancer Institute (NCI) National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) group focused on improving outcomes for adults with cancer through international clinical research, recently created a Veterans Affairs/Military Treatment Facility (VA-MTF) Subcommittee to provide a forum for advocating for these communities and engaging them in NRG research.
“We need to expand the access to NRG Oncology clinical trials for our Military personnel and Veterans. The creation of this important VA-MTF Subcommittee with leaders who are passionate about Veterans’ health will help us to facilitate participation of Veterans in the active trials and guide the developments of future studies that target the most common cancers in our Veterans,” stated Quynh-Thu Le, MD, FACR, FASTRO, an NRG Oncology Group Chair and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University.
In the development of the VA-MTF Subcommittee, NRG also selected Subcommittee leaders who are thoroughly invested in the VA-MTF community and who can help direct and define ongoing VA-MTF priorities alongside NRG’s current operations. Vlad Sandulache, MD, PhD, FACS and Maria Kelly, MB, BCh, BAO, FACR, FASTRO, FAAWR were selected to be the Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the NRG VA-MTF Subcommittee.
Vlad Sandulache, MD, PhD, an Associate Professor and Quality Improvement Officer of the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, was appointed as Chair of the NRG VA-MTF Subcommittee. Dr. Sandulache is a staff physician at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in Houston, Texas, and Chief of the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Section of the MEDVAMC, the largest such practice within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Dr. Sandulache has spent more than a decade documenting the epidemiology, risk profile, biology, and treatment responsiveness of head and neck cancer in the Veteran population. He has established numerous collaborations with clinicians and researchers throughout the Veterans Health Administration secondary to completion of a 2019 VA & NIDCR co-sponsored Field Based Meeting targeting oropharyngeal cancer in US Veterans.
“The Veteran population is at high risk for multiple malignancies as a result of disproportionately high rates of exposure to conventional (e.g. tobacco) and unique carcinogens (e.g. Agent Orange). Higher cancer rates are compounded by variable socio-economic status, often resulting in advanced cancer stage at initial presentation. As such, it is critical that Veterans have access to state-of-the-art therapeutic clinical trials. It is our hope to connect clinicians and researchers throughout the VHA with their counterparts in NRG Oncology in order to make this proposition a reality.” stated Dr. Sandulache.
Maria Kelly, MB, BCh, BAO, FACR, FASTRO, FAAWR, the Executive Director of the National Radiation Oncology Program at Veterans’ Healthcare Administration was selected as Vice Chair of the NRG VA-MTF Subcommittee. She also currently serves as adjunct professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and an associate professor emerita in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Kelly was the Radiation Oncology service chief at VA New Jersey Healthcare System (VA NJHCS) for over 12 years and served on numerous committees within the VA NJHCS including: the Executive Committee of Medical Staff, the Clinical Leadership Council, the C and P Committee, the Peer Review Committee, the Cancer Committee, the Tumor Board Committee, the LPOP Grant Committee, the Planning Committee for New Linacs, the Planning Committee for Pet CT scanners, the Planning Committee for Dedicated Cancer Center Space. She is involved with various search committees and quality improvement projects at VA NJHCS. She is also a Reviewer for the Journal of Oncology Practice and a present member of the American College of Radiology, American Society of Radiation Oncology, the Council of Affiliated Regional Radiation Oncology Societies, the New Jersey Radiologic Society, the American Association for Woman Radiologists, and the American Radium Society. Previously, Dr. Kelly has held several US Department of VA Healthcare System national appointments such as Chair for the National Radiation Oncology Field Advisory Committee (ROFAC), Member of the National Workgroup on Error Reporting, Chair and Chief of the ROFAC Therapeutic Medical Physics Subcommittee, Member of the VA Radiation Oncology Palliative Care Taskforce, and a Founding Member of the National Radiation Oncology Research Consortium.
“I am very excited about this new initiative from the NRG. VHA providers want to offer their patients the best in oncology care. We hope to connect our VHA community engaged in the care of cancer patients and enlist their support at every level in bringing more trials to our veterans which can only enhance the current high standards of oncology practice supported by the VHA national program offices in Oncology and Radiation Oncology” said Dr. Kelly.
NRG Oncology looks forward to the contributions of this new subcommittee and the added representation of the VA-MTF community to continue NRG’s mission to improve the lives of all affected by cancer.
About NRG Oncology
NRG Oncology conducts practice-changing, multi-institutional clinical and translational research to improve the lives of patients with cancer. Founded in 2012, NRG Oncology is a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit corporation that integrates the research of the legacy National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) programs. The research network seeks to carry out clinical trials with emphases on gender-specific malignancies, including gynecologic, breast, and prostate cancers, and on localized or locally advanced cancers of all types. NRG Oncology’s extensive research organization comprises multidisciplinary investigators, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, physicists, pathologists, and statisticians, and encompasses more than 1,300 research sites located world-wide with predominance in the United States and Canada. NRG Oncology is supported primarily through grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and is one of five research groups in the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network.