CCAF 2020 and the Importance of Community

Ashley Toy
March 5th, 2020

This week, members of the Cancer Center Administrators Forum (CCAF) gathered in San Francisco for the 2020 CCAF/CCAF-IT conference. Hosted by the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the event was a great chance for attendees to gather and discuss challenges and best practices in research administration. This vibrant community of cancer center administrators and staff shared their experiences and worked together to form creative strategies for managing the many components of the cancer center support grant (CCSG).

The conference began with a workshop session presented by Advarra-Forte. Attendees heard from members of the EVAL user community about how they are leveraging the system to manage publications, grants, membership and pilot grant return on investment (ROI). The workshop included collaborative group discussion and allowed attendees to ask questions and get answers from their peer community.

Throughout the conference, one of the major themes was the recently added community outreach and engagement requirement in the CCSG. Presenters shared the unique ways in which they are engaging their catchment area, not only by conducting relevant research, but by actively participating in the community to provide cancer education, screening and prevention measures.

In the session “Community Outreach & Engagement: Evaluating Progress and Impact”, presenters shared the efforts their cancer centers are making to reduce cancer incidence rates and improve cancer survival rates in their communities. Programs included smoking cessation efforts and HPV vaccination education. Speakers also shared the ways they are measuring impact and effectiveness of these programs.

At the conclusion of the conference, Dr. Henry Ciolino, Director of the Office of Cancer Centers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) shared his point of view on Community Outreach and Engagement as it relates to emerging cancer centers seeking NCI designation for the first time. He highlighted one of the six essential characteristics of a cancer center, institutional commitment, and said centers should have an excellent connection between their research and their catchment area, focusing on serving underrepresented and minority populations. Ciolino emphasized the purpose of the CCSG is not to create more cancer centers, but rather to recognize those doing outstanding work in conducting impactful cancer research.

Throughout the conference, administrators reiterated the value of working together and leveraging the CCAF community. During a session on site visit preparation, presenters stated the community is a great resource, since there’s nothing that one center is facing that another hasn’t. Centers don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time they need to solve a problem, but instead they can visit other centers, go to mock site visits, or reach out, ask questions and collaborate with other sites.

The CCAF community of administrators wrapped up the week and returned to their respective cancer centers and communities with ideas and inspiration gained throughout the conference. We look forward to seeing how the community has grown and taken on new challenges at CCAF 2021 in Cleveland!

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