From November 4th to November 6th, MEDSIR had the pleasure to host a Think Tank Meeting in Barcelona (Spain), organized in sponsorship with PFIZER. 5 Key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the field of breast cancer and over 25 breast cancer oncologists from emerging markets of LATAM, Asia and AfME, were invited to a 3-day-dynamic, with the aim of establishing new connections with their colleagues worldwide while learning how to design innovative and strategic trials.
Day 1: Lectures
The first day was full of excitement for everyone, marking the starting point of a long-awaited project.
Dr. Antonio Llombart, MEDSIR co-founders and Head of the Medical Oncology Service at Arnau de Vilanova Hospital in Valencia, opened the Friday session providing an introductory speech where he welcomed all attendees and stated the origin of the think-tank meeting. Afterwards, our guests introduced themselves and their professional experiences, also providing an overview of the panorama for clinical research in their countries.
From left to right: Dr. Fong Chin Heng (Malaysia), Dr. Mounia Amzerin (Morocco) and Dr. Tomas Reinert (Brazil)
In the second speech, Prof. Massimo Cristofanilli, Director of Breast Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine, presented the regulatory paths of drug approval by FDA, and brought up some interesting concepts in the context of clinical trials such as drug approval procedures, new drug application (NDA), abbreviated new drug application (ANDA), and accelerated and regular approvals. He finished by focusing on patient empowerment and real-world data (RWD), which is a concept that was deeply developed and discussed by next ponent.
Dr. Rodrigo Dienstmann, Medical Director at Oncoclínicas Precision Medicine and Big Data Initiative in Brazil, focused his talk on how to make a meaningful use of data collected in clinics and the characteristics that these data should have to be considered and treated as real world data (RWD). Since RWD and real-world evidence (RWE) will likely be involved in everyday design of clinical trial, it’s important to make this kind of consideration when preparing new studies.
The first session in the afternoon was a talk from Dr. Naoto Ueno, Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas and Medical Oncologist at Anderson Cancer Center. He provided some insights on the correct use and application of biosamples in clinical trials with the final aim of conducting translational research. For this purpose, it is necessary to identify the hypothesis and objectives according to the type of study, and to know when the use of biomarkers as endpoints can be achieved.
In the last talk, Dr. Javier Cortés, MEDSIR co-founders, director of the International Breast Cancer Center (IBCC) and president of Fundación Contigo, provided an overview of academic investigation around the globe (having USA, China and Europe as the leading countries) and emphasized the importance of investigator-initiated trials (IITs) and their contributions to advances in oncology. His talk gave the go-ahead for a debate on the current situation of academic research and Investigator-Initiated Trials (IITs) in emerging countries.
The debate was led by Dr. Gustavo Werutski as a LATAM representative, Dr. Jiun-I Lai representing Asia and Dr. Ahmed Hassan Abdelaziz representing AfME. All the countries realized that have really similar problems not only in term of funding for the studies but also for what concerns infrastructures, networks of investigator, and lack of investigation culture in their countries.
As a conclusion of this first day of activities, Dr. Matilde Martínez explained what the Think Tank consists of and divided all attendees and mentors into groups.
Day 2: High Performance Innovation Workshop (I)
On the second day, we started with the real dynamics of the think tank, where the attendees worked in the assigned groups to generate innovative and strategic proposals in the field of breast cancer. To foster this process, each of the groups was assigned with two molecules from PFIZER, which were briefly introduced by mentors stating the current “state of the art” of each molecule and providing articles and information.
Following an intense day of brainstorming and information exchanges, all the groups came up came up with two ideas for clinical studies to be presented and discussed on the last day.
Day 3: High Performance Innovation Workshop (II) and round of conclusions
Sunday, the last day of the event, was entirely dedicated to presentation and discussion of the synopsis that all the groups prepared the day before. All the groups had the same chances and time frame to present their ideas, generating debate and interactions within the rest of peers and mentors. Of notice, some of the groups came out with similar designs, highlighting the necessity of generating additional evidence in specific patient populations.
From MEDSIR, once again we were proud to verify that events like this are the fuel for clinical investigation. And this happens when you take time to think (and to think out of the box!) surrounded by like-minded people for just a couple of days. “The power of a Think Tank Meeting is to have good time and develop good ideas. All in one and this is the best way to move forward”, says Dr. Javier Cortés.
The importance of the people
MEDSIR is a clinical research company, and for us science matters. Scientific excellence and unmet medical need will always be the focus behind think tank meeting activity. All this is easier to accomplish when brilliant people work together towards a common objective, and this is what we have the priviledge to observe in this event.
As the organizer of this event, we also paid attention to every little detail, trying to make both attendees and mentors comfortable at any time. We experienced a powerful energy on the lat day, feeling that everyone was going home happy and most importantly motivated to improve our medicine.
“We don’t want to just promote science or clinical research, we want to promote people. Because these attendees will be the next KOLs in a few years. We want people to think out of the box, trying to generate what will be the future clinical trial design in order to answer faster and better the clinical questions that we have in practice every day”, says Dr. Antonio Llombart.
“Be with our friends, our colleagues, in this friendship environment. So when people leave to their countries, they really say this is like a family, we have been working so closely, so happy, so in a friendly environment that this is just amazing. Also, that we have developed great projects that hopefully at least for some of them, could be good enough to be approved by pharma companies”, concludes Dr. Javier Cortés.
At MEDSIR we received hugely positive feedback from attendees, mentors and PFIZER leads. Most attendees shared their contacts with the rest of their peers to stay in touch and develop an international network for further investigations. Of course, from MEDSIR we will foster and maintain these connections across the globe!
If you’re interested in taking part of this event or would like to sponsor a think tank, don’t hesitate to contact us! MEDSIR mission is to improve clinical practice every day, and the only way to do that is when you interact with mentors, different people across the globe, with the same interests and objectives. And this is what a Think Tank Meeting is!