Children's Hospital Investigator Selected to Lead International Childhood Cancer Research

11/19/2009

A leading scientist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, Peter C. Adamson, M.D., has been selected to lead the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) in their international efforts to find cures for children with cancer.

Dr. Adamson, an internationally recognized leader in pediatric cancer drug development, was elected to serve a 5-year term as the chairman of COG. He was selected by a nominating committee as one of two final candidates, and then elected by principal investigators of more than 200 COG sites. COG unites more than 5,000 experts in childhood cancer at leading children’s hospitals, universities, and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe in the fight against childhood cancer.

Dr. Adamson’s previous roles at COG have included leading a 21-site phase 1 consortium that conducted initial evaluations of drugs being developed to treat cancer in children. During the eight years that Dr. Adamson led this effort, the collaborating sites conducted more than 25 studies designed to test the safety of novel anticancer drugs.

His experiences working with investigators from multiple disease areas and industry partners through his involvement with COG, his own research efforts, and his membership on key advisory committees for the National Cancer Institute, give Dr. Adamson a unique perspective on the nationwide challenges facing the cancer clinical trial system.

“Scientific discovery today is occurring at an unprecedented pace, but the clinical trial system that historically worked so well is showing a diminishing rate of return in our ability to cure children,” says Dr. Adamson. “This system was not designed to rapidly bring findings from the bench to the bedside, and a transformation of the system’s approach is needed to propel translational efforts on an international scale.”

COG is the preeminent collaborative research organization and was the first group to recognize the importance of collaboration in pediatric research, as even common childhood cancers are rare enough that no one center treats the number of children required for large-scale clinical trials. COG’s unparalleled collaborative efforts provide the information and support needed to answer important clinical questions in the fight against cancer. Today, more than 90 percent of the 12,500 children diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States are treated at COG institutions, with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia being one of the largest such centers in the world.

During his term as chair of COG, Dr. Adamson hopes to increase the collaborative efforts needed to create therapies for cancer that are more effective than existing treatment options. Emerging research shows that even the more common childhood cancers are actually a mix of different diseases, each potentially requiring a different specific therapy. Creating such disease-targeted therapies for children with cancer requires a better pathway for moving from the bench to the bedside, which Dr. Adamson will lead through expanding COG’s role at Children’s Hospital and fostering new and enhanced collaborations with COG sites throughout the world.

“Knowing what emerging discoveries are being developed within and between COG’s collaborating institutions can smooth the transition of advances to sites throughout the country and the world,” says Dr. Adamson. “I hope to fully leverage the discoveries being made at a rapid pace that currently take too long to get to the clinic by transforming how research moves from the bench to the bedside in a very large collaboration.”

Dr. Adamson will assume his position as chair-elect of COG beginning on January 1, 2010. To focus on the responsibilities of this role, over time he plans to step down as director of Clinical & Translational Research and transition his responsibilities as chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He will remain a professor at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.

The work performed by COG is supported by the National Cancer Institute, along with a number of philanthropic organizations including CureSearch and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.