By Jens Rueter, M.D. and Andrey Antov, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Welcome! Andrey and I are delighted to share our first issue of the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) Newsletter with the oncology community in Maine. We have some major milestones for MCGI to announce. In May we received approval for our study protocol: The Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative - A Study of Oncology Clinician and Patient Experiences with Clinical Genomics in Maine. The approval of this protocol empowers Maine Institutions to begin involvement with the MCGI in earnest. As mentioned below in Study Updates, practices and oncologists are already signing on to participate!
The Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative, enabled through generous financial support from the Harold Alfond® Foundation, leverages the strengths of key medical and bioscience research institutions in Maine to create an alliance focused on precision cancer diagnostics and treatment. To learn more, please visit our website.
The Initiative is deeply grateful to our Steering Committee members who have provided their guidance and expertise. In each newsletter we will feature a Steering Committee member in this Spotlight.
This month we'd like to feature Steering Committee member Dr. Philip Brooks. Dr. Brooks was the first to enroll as a clinician in the MCGI study and also the first to enroll patients.
Philip Brooks, MD
Dr. Brooks practices at Eastern Maine Medical Center and oversees their clinics at the Mt. Desert Island Hospital, the Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, and the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology caring for patients in all areas of medical oncology, hematologic oncology, and benign hematology. He received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine then completed his Medical Residency at the University of Pennsylvania-Presbyterian Medical Center. Following that, he completed a 3 year fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dr. Brooks arrived at Eastern Maine Medical Center's Oncology program in 1980 and has held many leadership positions over those years. He spent 2½ years in China as Sr. Vice-President of Medical Affairs and Chief of Oncology Development for United Family Healthcare and returned to Eastern Maine Medical Center in 2011. He now lives with his wife, Astri, in Bar Harbor, Maine.
By Petra Helbig, CCRP
The focus of the study protocol is to assess the interactions of the Maine oncology community with JAX clinical genomics assays made available to MCGI participants. The protocol enrolls patients and their clinicians. Multiple surveys were developed in collaboration with Paul Han and his team at the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) at Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI), these will enable us to better understand the utility of genomic tests in clinical practice.
At the time of this newsletter, the MCGI Study is open at three oncology practices that participate as independent study sites. One additional practice took the opportunity to join as a study location through the MCGI Central Office in Augusta. Statewide, fifteen clinicians have completed the baseline survey and are eligible to offer study participation to their patients!
We are happy to assist you with the process or answer any questions you may have. If you are interested in more information, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Honey Reddi, PhD, FACMG
Many thanks to the Maine pathology groups, both independent and hospital affiliated, that have joined the MGCI study by agreeing to provide pathology services for the samples being tested in the JAX CLIA laboratory. In addition to the MCGI specific requisition form, an informational sheet, providing an overview of how to prepare samples for shipment, with key facts, is now available from the MCGI central office.
Please reach out to us at email@example.com for a copy. If you have any additional testing related questions, please do not hesitate to reach out directly to our Clinical Laboratory Director, Honey Reddi PhD, FACMG, at (860) 837-2062.
Progress in the CLIA lab towards offering a liquid biopsy test (Plasma Monitor™) is underway. This test will allow the addition of follow up time points for blood samples for study participants who were enrolled and received an ActionSeqPlus™ test result. We thank the community for your ongoing interest in this developing test and are working with the MCGI Clinical Steering committee on how to best to incorporate use of the liquid biopsy test into the Initiative, once it's made available by the lab.
By Kate Reed, MPH ScM, CGC
Providing educational opportunities for clinicians enrolled in MCGI is an important component of the Initiative. JAX will be providing two types of education:
- Self-directed education, including CME modules, case discussions, and clinical tools and
- Educational content during molecular tumor boards, which will have a remote access option, and CME available to MCGI-enrolled clinicians.
August's Educational Offering
Exploring Somatic Cancer Panel Testing is a self-directed module, uses interactive cases to explore the benefits and limitations of large panel testing for different types of patients. You can earn 0.5 CME credits.
This module and future self-directed education, which will be released approximately monthly, will all be available on a MCGI-exclusive website. Look for more details in your email after you complete the baseline survey.
More information about the molecular tumor board meetings will be forthcoming.
In late June, JAX President and CEO, Edison T Liu, MD visited the MCGI Central Office in Augusta. During this time with us he shared his vision for Community Genomics, outlining how initiatives like MCGI fit into a larger trend in the field.
August 31st: Dr. Lincoln Nadauld from Intermountain Health Clinical Genomics will visit JAX-GM in Connecticut. During that visit, Dr. Nadauld will share his experience with implementing an oncology genomics program at a large community-based healthcare system in Utah. During his visit we will take the opportunity to hold the first MCGI.
Genomic tumor board. Attendance will be by invitations. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September, a more regular schedule will be established. Attendance will be open to clinicians enrolled in the MCGI study. More information about the molecular tumor board meetings will be forthcoming.
Sept 9th: we will have a table set up at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care's Cancer Survivor Day. This community event will give us the chance to interact directly with cancer patients and their family members.
Sept 18th: Andrey Antov, PhD, MBA will speak at the Cancer Registrar's Association of Maine meeting to share the message of the MCGI Study and support our educational mission.
The mission of the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) is to enable widespread access to clinical cancer genomic tests for the Maine oncology community and to increase the understanding of cancer genomics by Maine oncology clinicians. The MCGI, enabled through the generous financial support from The Harold Alfond® Foundation, leverages the strengths of key medical and bioscience research institutions in Maine to create and alliance focused on precision cancer diagnostics and treatment.
The MCGI central office team is dedicated to ensuring your practice's engagement and experience with genomic cancer testing. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Email us at email@example.com.