July 2023

Issue Highlights

  • Coordinator Call

  • Newly Activated Studies

  • NRG Semi-Annual Meeting Recap

  • Diving into Disparities

Affiliate Site Staff Meeting (Coordinator Call)


Thursday, July 27

our monthly coordinator meetings will start back up!

The meeting will be held from

2:00PM - 3:00PM

on Microsoft Teams.

If you did not receive a recurring Teams calendar invite for these meetings please reach out to Sahra Khan, SKhan@gibbscc.org.

The link for this Thursday's meeting is below.

Coordinator Call

Newly Activated Studies

These studies have recently activated.

More information can be found on CTSU.

  • S2207:Randomized Phase II Study of the Addition of Targeted Therapeutic Agents to Tafasitamab-Based Therapy in Non-Transplant-Eligible Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Large B-Cell Lymphoma

NRG Semi-Annual Meeting Recap

During the NRG Semi-Annual meeting held this past week in Philadelphia, Upstate Carolina's own CCDR Director, Melyssa Foust, presented from the community site perspective, "Establishing feasibility of implementing concepts/grants within the NRG NCORP community-based practices". Several affiliates attended the meeting, when asked about their experiences from the meeting, staff members were grateful for the opportunity to attend in person and the time it allowed to make connections with NRG staff committee members as well as members across different Upstate Carolina NCORP sites. This meeting fell on NRG's 10th anniversary, members were invited to a reception celebrating 10 years of achievements at the Barnes Foundation, home to artwork by artists such as Degas, Monet, Matisse, and Renoir.

Pictured: Melyssa Foust

Pictured (left to right): Alaina Kennedy, Tammy Pittman, Mohsen Alqalam.

Pictured (left to right): Mohsen Alqalam, Kamara Mertz-Rivera, Alaina Kennedy, Tammy Pittman, Penny Argo

Accruals, Biospecimens & Special Entries

Under-Represented Populations

CCDR Corner

Diving into Disparities

Diversity in Clinical Research

Individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented in clinical trials and cancer research studies (Siegel, Miller, & Jemal, 2015), contributing to the lack of generalizability. The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), such as healthcare access and quality, education, social and community context, economic stability, and the environment, are interrelated constructs that may negatively affect diverse patients' ability and willingness to participate in cancer research (Asare, Flannery, & Kamen, 2017). For example, patients from diverse backgrounds with low socioeconomic status may have living conditions that could increase their cancer risk. Moreover, low social economic status can affect the ability to afford quality cancer care.

Additionally, diverse communities exposed to discrimination result in mistrust and suspicion of cancer research based on historical discrimination precedents and past unethical research experiments (Shavers, Lynch, & Burmeister, 2002). Understanding the social determinants of health can help clinical researchers and healthcare providers assess and address barriers to research participation. Thus, leading to trial design that could improve cancer-related health among individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. However, we must remember it is imperative to consider the unique factors that diverse populations experience at each step, thus effectively applying a health equity lens to the implementation of screening (Tucker-Seeley, 2021).

What can we do to increase diversity in our accruals?

A diverse clinical research workforce emphasizes the importance of cultural perspectives and participation in clinical research and can improve cancer health outcomes. A diverse workforce builds an open and trusting healthcare environment and encourages patients to openly discuss the risks, burdens, and benefits of research participation. Culturally appropriate care provides a better future for our patients and the communities. In addition, healthcare literacy training and practicing supports diversity and keeping health equity at the forefront of our research studies.

To learn more about the growing need for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in cancer care and clinical trials, read the journal article below

DEI Journal Article
Do you have any staff you would like highlighted in The Connector?
Please submit it by the 15th of the month to Alaina: akennedy@srhs.com

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Kamara Mertz-Rivera, MA, CCRC

Email: UpstateNCORP@srhs.com

Phone: 864-560-6104

eRegulatory Systems

Laura Bailey, BS, CCRP

Email: UpstateNCORPRegulatory@srhs.com

Phone: 864-560-6954


Josh Acuna, MPH

Email: UpstateNCORPRegulatory@srhs.com

Phone: 864-530-6523

AYA Coordinator

Heather Schwartz, MPH, HTL

Email: heather_schwartz@bshsi.org

Phone: 864-603-6212

Grant Manager

Alex Akkary, MBA

Email: UpstateNCORPFinance@srhs.com

Phone: 864-560-6967

Quality Assurance

Sahra Khan & Jessica Michael

Email: UpstateNCORPQA@srhs.com

Phone: 864-530-6510

CCDR Director

Melyssa Foust, MSN, RN, OCN

Email: UpstateNCORPCCDR@srhs.com

Phone: 864-560-1035

Community & Social Media 

Alaina Kennedy, BA

Email: akennedy@srhs.com

Phone: 864-560-6882

2759 Hwy 14 South • Greer • SC • 29651