MARINA DEL REY, Calif-Representatives of the American Association
of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), an organization of almost
500 cancer institutions, presented the group's Award for Outstanding
Achievement in Clinical Research to Rodger J. Winn, MD, at their
annual economics conference.
Dr. Winn, chief of the Community Oncology Program, University
of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, is known for his outcomes
research, particularly his analysis of the utilization of resources
for patients in the final months of their lives. He was instrumental
in establishing a research network for chemopreven-tion trials
that includes many ACCC member institutions.
In his remarks following the presentation of the award, Dr. Winn
offered his perspective on what makes a good clinical researcher.
They should be "obsessive, compulsive, and attentive to detail,"
he said, but they must also be "cockeyed optimists,"
always searching for that breakthrough treatment.
He spoke of attending a conference on the treatment of glioblastomas
with other cancer researchers. When conventional chemotherapy
(which has not been very successful, he added) was discussed,
he sensed a weariness among his colleagues. But when new neurochemical
treatments, such as small molecules for tyrosine-kinase receptors
and protease inhibitors were introduced, the mood of the audience
changed to one of excitement.
"Some of us think the 1980s were quiet, and that may be true
clinically; but on a basic science level, there was an explosion,
and we're just beginning to reap the benefits of that. The biggest
benefit will be identifying those at risk for cancer much more
precisely, so that preventive measures can be taken," he
Two 'Sacred Cows'
Clinical researchers also need to be flexible and able to change
their beliefs when new information requires it. He described two
"sacred cows" of clinical research that, in his opinion,
need to be reevaluated.