“Since ASCO was thought to be simply a science-light organization that focused solely on clinical trials, the pressure was on to establish an independent scientific presence.”
—George P. Canellos, MD
My Presidency was a transitional year; it was the first time that ASCO had a meeting separate from the American Association for Cancer Research. Since ASCO was thought to be simply a science-light organization that focused solely on clinical trials, the pressure was on to establish an independent scientific presence. I planned for our Annual Meeting to have more science than usual, and ASCO has continued to maintain that solid scientific presence.
A contract group was managing ASCO at the time, and it became apparent that we needed to take a permanent role in the organization’s continuous activities. So we offered Dr. John Durant the position of Executive Vice President, and he was later confirmed in the position by my successor. ASCO’s road to independence and eventually to self-publishing the Journal of Clinical Oncology had begun.
Also during my term, Dr. Bernard Fisher was wrongly accused of running an organization that had some problems with its data. Breast cancer advocates were up in arms; the NCI was upset—a real mess. Dr. Fisher was subsequently vindicated. At the ASCO Annual Meeting that I chaired, there were inquiries about having him speak at the Plenary Session. Naturally the presentations were already booked, but we altered the session, eliminating certain talks to make room for Dr. Fisher. I gave him a big hug when he stepped to the lectern, and it set off a roaring ovation from the packed hall. He did a marvelous job. ■