Joseph A. Sparano, MD, will receive the William L. McGuire Memorial Lecture Award at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), to be held December 10–14. The McGuire Award was established in 1992 to honor William L. McGuire, MD, who, along with Charles A. Coltman, MD, founded the SABCS in 1977.
Joseph A. Sparano, MD
Dr. Sparano is being recognized for a career distinguished by leadership, collaboration, and practice-changing achievements in clinical and translational breast cancer research that have improved the lives of many patients. He is Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care, Albert Einstein Cancer Center, New York.
A member of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (previously the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, or ECOG) since 1991, and currently its Vice Chair, Dr. Sparano has played a key role in the design and implementation of several pivotal ECOG-ACRIN clinical trials, including trials evaluating the optimal chemotherapy regimen to prevent cancer recurrence after surgery, and tissue and blood-based biomarkers prognostic for recurrence.
Notably, he served as Study Chair for the recently reported TAILORx trial. This NCI-sponsored, multicenter trial enrolled more than 10,000 women with early-stage breast cancer. Investigators used the 21-gene expression Oncotype DX assay to quantify individual risk of recurrence and assign patients to chemotherapy treatment. The trial demonstrated that the majority of women with early-stage breast cancer could forgo chemotherapy when guided by the test, and that integration of clinical factors and test results could also influence the choice of endocrine therapy in younger women.
The results of the TAILORx trial resulted in modification of National Comprehensive Cancer Network and ASCO guidelines, immediately impacting clinical practice. Other work has led to evaluation of blood tests that identify those at high risk of recurrence 5 or more years after diagnosis, which accounts for about one-half of all breast cancer recurrences.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Sparano’s research on biomarkers of recurrence and prognosis has moved the field forward and led to more effective, personalized treatments for patients with cancer. Among his peers, he is lauded for his organizational skills and recognized for his commitment to mentorship and delivering high-quality cancer care to minority populations. For example, in 2001, he initiated the Young Investigator Symposium, now an annual event, that has introduced more than 200 young clinical, translational, and basic cancer research fellows to ECOG-ACRIN. The event provides them with the occasion to orally present their research project, interact with senior investigators, and learn about cooperative group research opportunities early in their careers. In addition, he has served as Principal Investigator of the Montefiore-Einstein Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant since 2014.
Among other honors, Dr. Sparano presented the inaugural Einstein-Montefiore Presidential Lecture in 2017 and received the Charles G. Moertel Lectureship Award from the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology in 2019. ■