“Rising Star” to Chair Scientific Review Committee

Monday, September 28, 2020

Dr. Pavani Chalasani received an NCI Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award and will lead the Scientific Review Committee tasked with overseeing all cancer-related clinical studies conducted at the University of Arizona.

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH, distinguished for her work in translational breast oncology, will serve as chair of the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Scientific Review Committee (SRC) as a part of a recent National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award (CCITLA).

Dr. Chalasani, who has previously served on the SRC as a committee member, currently leads the UArizona Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer Disease Oriented Team, a role in which she oversees breast cancer clinical research. She also is the fellowship program director for UArizona Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program.

According the NCI, the CCITLAs recognize and support outstanding mid-career clinical investigators at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers who are working to improve the lives of people with cancer through extensive involvement in NCI-funded collaborative clinical trials and whose leadership, participation and activities promote clinical trials and research. The Cancer Center nominated Dr. Chalasani, and as a recipient. the award provides partial salary support for two years for activities and efforts related to the award. For Dr. Chalasani, this includes assuming her position as chair of the SRC.

“I am honored to take on this important leadership role within our Cancer Center and specifically with the SRC,” said Dr. Chalasani. “This committee is critical to our Cancer Center Support Grant because of our collective responsibility to oversee our clinical trials and ensure the scientific merit, priority, value and progress of all cancer-related clinical studies.”

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Daniel Persky, MD

“Dr. Chalasani is a rising star, a translational investigator who has written several investigator-initiated trials (IITs), including a multi-center IIT, and a top accruer to interventional treatment trials,” said Daniel O. Persky, MD, associate director of clinical investigations. “She brings a wealth of understanding of trial vetting and conduct to the SRC Chair position. Having served on the SRC also makes her understand how the committee functions.”

Key responsibilities for the SRC include careful medical, scientific, and biostatistical peer review of submitted protocols, as well as other related discipline peer review including data safety monitoring plan, and investigational and/or standard pharmacy. This comprehensive review is performed on all new IITs and industry-sponsored cancer research studies, as well as on any substantive amendments to established protocols. Additionally, the SRC conducts regular reviews of accrual progress for all open trials.

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Rachna Shroff, MD, MS

“We are delighted to have Dr. Chalasani at the helm of the SRC,” said Rachna T. Shroff, MD, MS, medical director of the UArizona Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office. “As a prolific researcher and a principal investigator (PI) for multiple IITs, she has a keen sense of clinical trial design and how to critically appraise the scientific merit of a potential study. Her background in translational breast oncology will serve her well as she continues rigorous peer-review of correlative and exploratory endpoints in upcoming studies.”

A research member in the Cancer Center’s Therapeutic Development Program, Dr. Chalasani’s primary clinical and research focus is in breast cancer. She is particularly interested in biomarkers and has numerous ongoing translational and clinical projects.

“Dr. Chalasani’s prior service to the SRC as reviewer will enable her to improve processes and streamline workflows as well,” said Dr. Shroff. “The Clinical Trials Office is appreciative of her service and commitment to our comprehensive cancer center.”

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Julie Bauman, MD, MPH

Among her current research projects, Dr. Chalasani is the principal investigator (PI) for several IITs, industry and co-operative group protocols. She is the medical oncology study chair for a National Cancer Institute (NCI) study in women with inflammatory breast cancer (S1706) and lead investigator for a randomized phase II trial in women with metastatic HER2+ breast cancer. She has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health/NCI, American Cancer Society, Better Than Ever and through the Cancer Center pilot funding mechanism.

“Dr. Chalasani is a talented and prolific clinical investigator who knows how to translate science into trials that benefit our patients,” said Julie E. Bauman, MD, MPH, deputy director of the Cancer Center.  “Her dedication to rigorous review during her tenure as an SRC member, coupled with her own wealth of experience, paves the way for strong leadership.”