News Release: Emory Healthcare , Research , School of Medicine , Winship Cancer Institute

Aug. 22,  2011

Winship Researcher to Chair Prominent Clinical Trials Committee

News Article ImageSuresh Ramalingam, MD, is director of the division of medical oncology in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and a leader of Winship's Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Program.

Suresh Ramalingam, MD, director of the division of medical oncology in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and a leader of Winship’s  Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Program, has been named chair of the thoracic malignancies committee for the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, one of the oldest and largest cooperative cancer groups in the country.

ECOG was established in 1955 as one of the first cooperative groups launched to perform multi-center cancer clinical trials. ECOG is currently one of the largest clinical cancer research organizations in the U.S. with almost 6,000 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, statisticians, and clinical research associates from the U.S., Canada, and South Africa.

As chair of this important committee that selects new trials for such cancers as lung and other malignancies of the chest, Ramalingam, who has served as vice chair of the committee since 2008, will be in a leadership role to help design studies and to test new treatments for lung cancer.

 “Dr. Ramalingam has distinguished himself as one of the leading national experts on lung cancer, and he is beginning to shift the treatment paradigm for this disease,” said Walter J. Curran Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute. “His appointment is an example of the increasing leadership roles that Winship researchers have in shaping the national portfolio of cancer clinical trials.”

“Dr. Ramalingam is an exceptional translational researcher and a superb physician whose entire focus is on improving the care of patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma,” said  Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, deputy director of Winship and chair of Emory’s Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, “His accomplishments would be remarkable in an individual twice his age. Dr. Ramalingam has the talent, skill, innovation, and dedication to make a major difference in the war on lung cancer. 

Khuri noted that the National Cancer Institute recently awarded Ramalingam a Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award, an honor given to only a select few physician leaders annually. 

“The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group has therefore selected the best possible individual to lead their already impressive efforts against lung cancer, and to literally take them to the next level,” Khuri said. “It is an honor for Dr. Ramalingam and for Emory University to have one of our faculty be entrusted to lead the efforts of one of the premiere cancer clinical research enterprises against the single biggest cancer killer.”

Robert L. Comis, MD, Group Chair of ECOG, cited Ramalingam’s expertise in clinical research in lung cancer as a reason for his selection.  

“On behalf of ECOG, I want to thank Dr. Ramalingam for accepting the position of Chair of the ECOG Thoracic Committee, which is the seat of our lung cancer research effort, said Comis. “Dr. Ramalingam is one of the notable experts in lung cancer clinical research, and is extraordinarily well qualified to lead ECOG’s lung cancer effort forward, integrating our rich laboratory science programs with our clinical trials.”

Ramalingam said he is deeply honored at the appointment.

“It’s a tremendous personal honor to work with the outstanding members of the thoracic committee to pursue novel approaches for the prevention and treatment of lung cancer,” said Dr. Ramalingam.

Ramalingam currently serves as chair of E5508, a national Phase III clinical trial that is studying whether giving bevacizumab and pemetrexed disodium alone or in combination after induction therapy is more effective in treating patients with advanced stage non-squamous cell, non-small cell lung cancer. The trial will involve about 1,300 patients.

The National Cancer Institute established the cooperative group program to promote and support clinical trials, the foundation of scientific knowledge and advancements in cancer treatment, to study new cancer treatments. The cooperative groups also study cancer prevention and detection methods, quality-of-life issues and rehabilitation. Cooperative groups allow researchers from many institutions to work together by sharing knowledge and resources. It also allows multi-site studies, which involve larger patient cohorts.    

The cooperative group program involves more than 3,100 institutions that contribute patients to group-conducted clinical trials. More than 14,000 individual investigators are registered to participate in NCI-supported cooperative group studies. Cooperative groups place more than 25,000 new patients into cancer treatment clinical trials each year.

ECOG has more than 90 active clinical trials in all types of adult cancer. Annual accrual is 6,000 patients, with more than 20,000 patients in follow-up.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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