ASCO 2024: The Premier Meeting for Oncologists

Several experts that we spoke with for ASCO 2024 share their thoughts on why the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting is so important to the field of oncology.

For our coverage of ASCO 2024, the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, we spoke with many experts in the field of oncology. Here are thoughts from some of these key opinion leaders on why they return to ASCO in Chicago every year, the many in-person collaboration opportunities the meeting presents, and how knowledge gained here reverberates in the field of oncology:

  • Aditya Bardia, MD, MPH, FASCO, professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology; director, Translational Research Integration; and member, Signal Transduction and Therapeutics, UCLA Health
  • Jennifer Eads, MD, physician lead, GI Clinical Research; director, National Clinical Trials Network, Abramson Cancer Center; and associate professor of clinical medicine (hematology-oncology), Penn Medicine
  • Ravi Parikh, MD, MPP, assistant professor of medicine, medical ethics and health policy, and director, Human-Algorithm Collaboration Lab, Perelman School of Medicine
  • Juneko Grilley-Olson, MD, associate professor of medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, and member, Duke Cancer Institute


Why is ASCO so important to the field of oncology?

Bardia: The reason you have such a large number of people who come to ASCO is multifold. The first is to learn about the latest and greatest in terms of the scientific advances so we can give the best treatment options to our patients with cancer in general. And the second, which is equally, if not more important, is the networking and the discussion—when results are presented to understand how to place the results in terms of the current clinical practice and also form collaborations. We saw this during the pandemic that yes, you can listen to advances but this networking piece, this formation of collaboration, when you’re together at ASCO in Chicago, that's just something that cannot be done in a virtual setting. So that's why people come again and again to these in-person meetings: for the scientific advances, for the networking, and to form collaborations.

Eads: I think ASCO is so important because it's an opportunity for oncologists around the world, from multiple disciplines, to really come together. This is where a lot of the biggest data that is oftentimes practice changing is presented. It's also just a really great environment for networking and collaborating with both other investigators, academic colleagues, and industry. I feel like whenever I come, I always leave with a lot of aspirations to further oncology research and a lot of great ideas. It's a busy meeting and it's big and difficult to navigate sometimes, but it has really been a very influential meeting for me and for oncology in general.

Parikh: The people, meeting colleagues, meeting friends and emerging collaborators, people I'm writing grants with, people I'm doing large-scale trials with that. It's just a lot more fun to meet them in person over a drink than to meet them over Zoom when people are multitasking. So, that's the most fun. And then I would say the ability to start new collaborations with individuals, research groups, companies that you read about and you just don't have the opportunity to meet. It offers this really concentrated time period to form new ideas. I think there's more ideas that get started at places like ASCO than there are in the rest of the 51 weeks of the year because you just have some devoted time to think.

Grilley-Olson: I think this meeting is always an exciting place to see often the most important developments, particularly a filed like sarcoma. We’re a small community, we often know some of what most of the other trials are that are ongoing. It’s a really great place to see the data when it’s actually been presented. This study [Alliance A091902] was actually a great example of why we need randomized data because it was a surprise that the study was negative to many people or that the paclitaxel-nivolumab portion of the study was a negative trial. The other part of it is just always the opportunity to actually, especially in a post-pandemic setting, meet with people face to face, which is so powerful.

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