Director's message: Cancer research is a team sport

Volume 6, Issue 2, 2017


Global collaborations inspire new discoveries in cancer treatment and patient care.

Photograph of Robert B. Diasio, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

As in all areas of medicine, cancer research follows a process that tests ideas and when successful, turns them into treatments.

As I write this column, the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting is wrapping up in Chicago.

ASCO, as it's known, is the world's largest cancer research conference. It's one of the primary venues that researchers and physicians use to present new and ongoing work to their peers. The opportunity to present information and receive feedback is an integral part of the scientific process.

Meetings such as ASCO serve as informal opportunities for peer review that can help researchers develop, clarify and refine their work. These meetings also make it possible for researchers to hear about what others in their field and related disciplines are doing, to talk with colleagues from different institutions around the world, and to learn about new research, tools and ideas that might be relevant to their work.

For example, a study presented by Mayo Clinic biostatistician Qian Shi, Ph.D., may well have a major impact on how metastatic colon cancer is treated.

Dr. Shi, an associate professor of biostatistics in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota, was the lead author of a multi-institution study that involved six separate clinical trials and nearly 13,000 patients from 12 countries. The study examined the optimal duration of chemotherapy for patients receiving oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy for colon cancer.

This kind of research would not have been possible without collaborators from around the world, and the dedicated biostatistics work of Daniel J. Sargent, Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic, who passed away unexpectedly last year.

I'm very proud of our researchers at Mayo Clinic. They know the value of collaboration and understand how research drives everything we do for our patients.

  1. Robert B. Diasio, M.D.
    1. Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
    2. William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor