Observations from AACR 2014


Applied Clinical Trials

This year the AACR conference was focused on "Harnessing Breakthroughs, Targeting Cures."

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the American Association for Cancer Research conference in San Diego. This year the AACR conference was focused on “Harnessing Breakthroughs, Targeting Cures.” This conference was attend by researchers and staff from all across the cancer research spectrum.  Aside from the beautiful, sunny southern California weather, the conference was a great chance to gain insight about oncology research, especially clinical trials.

If you were unable to catch the conference this year, or even if you did, I have compiled of the top trends I picked up on at AACR this year.


Increasing collaboration with research partners across the industry was a trend that couldn’t be missed. On their way to develop novel cures for disease investigators have always worked with partners in other universities and biopharma companies. 18,000 researchers in one building can connect and share ideas. This year it seemed more obvious than ever that bringing new therapies from concept to commercialization will require the combined efforts of many partners.

Personalized Medicine and Biomarker Driven Studies

Biomarker-driven studies and personalized medicine are bigger than ever. This poses significant challenges in recruitment for trials because the target patient population is inherently very limited. In order to leverage all possible patients eligible for a biomarker-centered study, the investigators will need to securely maintain a database of eligible patients.

Translational Research

AACR is a great forum for basic science investigators to connect with downstream researchers that can take their breakthroughs to clinical trials and ultimately medicinal products and treatments. Translational research often requires industry partners to help pre-clinical advancements to become cancer cures. Just by looking at the number of talks and posters focused on translational research it is clear that this step in the development process is critical to the mission of generating cures for cancer.

Technology Supporting Researchers

Throughout the conference it became clear that in order for researchers to be successful in “Harnessing Breakthroughs, Targeting Cures,” technology needs to support their efforts. Oncology clinical trials are labor intensive, data intensive, and frequently very long. To bring a new therapy to market requires such immense collaboration and effort from all players in the research supply chain. Technology, such as CTMS, needs to make the jobs of investigators and their staff easier. CTMS can deliver efficiencies that will allow the administration of clinical research to proceed more quickly and for less money. Shouldn’t administration of clinical trials be as high-tech as the tools researchers are using to conduct the studies?

Kate McGowan is a Strategic Marketing Consultant at Bio-Optronics


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