The Brown University Oncology Research Group (BrUOG) was created in 1994 to coordinate clinical cancer research for Brown’s affiliated hospitals and Alpert Medical School faculty. BrUOG’s main mission is to improve cancer care through the implementation of innovative, multidisciplinary cancer clinical trials. BrUOG provides the infrastructure for the efficient development and implementation of these trials, which are created by Brown University faculty. Before BrUOG was founded, there was no unifying body for such research and no infrastructure through which Brown’s myriad scientists and physicians could share, advance, and garner support for their ideas on the treatment of cancer.
The founding hospitals of BrUOG are Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center, Memorial Hospital, and Women & Infants Hospital, which administer care to the majority of trial patients today. BrUOG, however, is the engine: its administrators and physicians provide support for the initial study concept and validation of trial design, and are responsible for trial administration, safety monitoring, data analysis, and the presentation and publication of findings.
The trials sponsored by BrUOG investigate novel, cutting-edge applications of chemotherapy, biologic agents and other cancer treatments. They study anticancer agents in early development, and as such are Phase I trials (which determine the optimally tolerated dose of an anticancer treatment regimen) or Phase II trials (which assesses the potential therapeutic effectiveness). These trials provide essential preliminary data for definitive Phase III trials, often conducted under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute.
Our trials are unique because they are investigator-initiated—conceptualized by practicing physicians, not by pharmaceutical companies. As such, these trials represent an incredibly important sector of cancer research. Because medical, radiation and surgical oncologists are deeply familiar with both the latest research and stark realities of cancer, they are an unrivaled source of ideas for novel approaches to treatments.
The Brown University Oncology Research Group (BrUOG) is the principle mechanism for oncology clinical trials at the Alpert Medical School. This regional consortium of Brown-affiliated hospitals allows hematologists, oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, and others to develop investigator-initiated clinical trials. These studies are conceived and designed by faculty at member institutions. They provide cutting-edge applications of chemotherapeutic agents, biologic agents, and other treatment modalities. Such innovative studies lay the groundwork for larger nationwide studies under the auspices of cooperative clinical trials groups.
Clinical trials are available for a broad range of disorders in hematology/oncology and these include treatment for cancers of the breast, brain, lung, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and prostate as well as trials in leukemia and lymphoma. Many of these trials utilize novel therapeutic agents or new combinations of treatments in an effort to improve treatment.
BrUOG is one of the foremost clinical oncology research groups in the country. Our accomplishments include:
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): BrUOG performed the sentinel Phase I and Phase II studies of paclitaxel/carboplatin/radiation therapy in NSCLC, which has formed the basis for the standard of care throughout the world for treatment of Stage 3 lung cancer. BrUOG is the leader in developing stereotactic radiation, a highly focused form of radiation for lung cancer.
- Esophageal Cancer: BrUOG has led the development of targeted agents in adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Two current Phase III studies of the National Cancer Institute—investigating trastuzumab and cetuximab—were each based on BrUOG Phase I/II trials.
- Rectal Cancer: BrUOG is leading the development of chemotherapy and radiation before surgery to prevent local recurrence and to reduce the need for colostomy.
- Breast Cancer: BrUOG has concentrated on two important areas in breast cancer. For patients with metastatic breast cancer, BrUOG is developing more effective, less toxic and more convenient regimens. BrUOG has also been a leader in the development of neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment given prior to definitive breast surgery to reduce recurrence and the need for mastectomy.
- Pancreatic Cancer: BrUOG has developed more influential Phase I and II pancreatic cancer studies leading directly to Phase II and III cooperative group trials than any other cancer group in the world.
- Brain tumors: BrUOG is leading the development of new radiation sensitizers to treat glioblastoma, the most lethal primary brain tumor.
- Education: BrUOG teaches the fundamental of clinical cancer research and provides outstanding research opportunities for physicians in training.
In addition to protocols coordinated by BrUOG, patients at our hospitals also have access to a large variety of other clinical trials through national cooperative groups such as Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) and the Radiation Treatment Oncology Group (RTOG). Only through the resources of such large organizations can such randomized trials of cancer therapy take place. Pharmaceutical industry-sponsored trials of novel agents are also available. Sponsorship for clinical trials is derived from the National Cancer Institute and from numerous pharmaceutical industry sponsors.