Myeloma Canada: Aldo, you must be very excited about how far the Myeloma Canada Research Network has come since the first discussion seven years ago. Can you explain your vision and how the MCRN came to be?
Dr Donna Reece
Aldo Del Col: The idea for a Canadian myeloma research group wa s born in 2009 during a casual conversation I was having with Dr Donna Reece at the Myeloma Canada National Conference in Calgary. At that time there was no formal structure in place to facilitate information and idea exchange among the Canadian researchers. With the rapid growth in scientific knowledge and increasing interest of pharmaceutical
Aldo Del Col
compa nie s in myeloma research , we identified an opportunity to organize an annual meeting to attract the best minds in myeloma and advance research thro ugh a collaborative framework. Thus was born the Scientific Roundtable. At our first meeting in November 2010 we considered several names, such as the Canadian Expert Myeloma Group and the Myeloma Canada Council, but in the end we all agreed to call the new group the Myeloma Canada Research Network.

MC: How many researchers are currently involved in the MCRN, and how do new members join?

ADC: The MCRN is open to all researchers and clinicians who have an active interest in improving the lives of myeloma patients. The first step is to accept an invitation to attend the annual Scientific Roundtable in Montreal, an invitation that is extended to over 50 hematologists and scientists every year. To date, 20 centres across Canada have either participated in an MCRN clinical trial or have expressed interest in joining future trials. There remain a handful of smaller sites that have not yet joined the network, but we are confident that once they understand the value of the MCRN for their patients, they too will come on board.

MC: With so many researchers involved in the network, how do they meet and exchange information?

ADC: Given the geography of our country, communication always poses a challenge. Understanding that the exchange of information and ideas is essential to the success of a collaborative venture such as the MCRN, our investigators meet formally as a group three times a year: in April in conjunction with the Canadian Clinical Trials Group (CCTG) annual spring meeting in Toronto; in December at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting; and in September at the Myeloma Canada Scientific Roundtable held in Montreal. The latter has evolved to become the "must-attend" event for the Canadian myeloma research community and attracts the participation of renowned international researchers as well as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
Additionally, we periodically convene conference calls to discuss specific projects and issues.
MC: How can the myeloma community help support and bring awareness to this research program?
ADC: The simple answer is increased community involvement. First, more patients should step forward to participate in clinical trials. Although we do a better job at recruiting for clinical trials than the US, we lag significantly behind Europe. The more patients participate, the faster we can fully accrue trials and publish the data that will improve clinical outcomes. Secondly, research costs money, so I encourage our community to participate in local and national fundraisers, such as the Multiple Myeloma March. For the thousands across Canada who have volunteered, marched and donated to the cause, a heartfelt thank you!

Over the years, our relatively small myeloma community has acquired an increasingly strong and respected voice...a result of working together to make myeloma matter for all Canadians living with this relatively unknown cancer.

I would also like to acknowledge our industry partners who have supported and encouraged our MCRN initiative over the years: Janssen, Celgene, Otsuka, Takeda, Amgen, Karyopharm, Lundbeck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Sanofi.

And a big thank you to Dr Donna Reece and the Molly & David Bloom Chair at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto for their leadership and support in advancing myeloma research in Canada.  
MC: Thank you Aldo for sharing your insight with the myeloma community. For more questions or information, Aldo can be reached at:
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