WELCOME

The Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG) is the only research organisation in the Australasian region with a focus on gastro-intestinal cancers.

The AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting is widely known throughout Australasia as the premier meeting in the gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer space. The three day meeting provides gastro-intestinal cancer clinicians, researchers and allied health specialists with the opportunity to present their research and discuss current challenges and innovations, as well as to hear from international and local leaders on the latest in research and treatments. The exchange of knowledge and expertise is strongly encouraged in our friendly and collegiate meeting environment. The meeting also provides an opportunity for involvement of health professionals in the scientific activities of the AGITG.

The program structure consists of three days of dedicated program which include keynote sessions featuring international guest speakers, plenary and symposia sessions, trials presentations, poster session, new concepts symposium and workshops.

 

Highlights of the 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting

The 20th AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 31 October-2 November 2018.

Cutting-edge GI cancer therapies and treatments were key points of discussion at the meeting. Invited speakers shared insights on topics as diverse as molecular pathology, understanding molecular and immunological targets, the microbiome, variations in treatment around the world, and how to interpret data as statistically or clinically relevant. The program was balanced between education around multidisciplinary controversies and AGITG trial updates.

The Principal Investigators of AGITG trials updated the group on our current research. New research included the DYNAMIC studies, which are analysing the potential of circulating tumour DNA in GI cancer. Another new trial presented was the MODULATE study investigating whether immunotherapy could be used to treat colorectal cancer. In upper GI cancers, the MASTERPLAN trial investigating stereotactic body radiotherapy in pancreatic cancer was presented. It was exciting to see so much progress in a wide variety of therapeutic areas.

We were honoured to host a stellar line up of invited faculty including:

  • Prof Sabine Tejpar, Medical Oncologist, University Hospital Leuven, Belgium
  • Prof Brendan Moran, Colorectal Surgeon, Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, UK
  • Prof Daniel Chang, Radiation Oncologist, Stanford University, USA
  • Prof Aldo Scarpa, Pathologist, University of Verona, Italy
  • Prof Diana Sarfati, Epidemiologist, University of Otago, NZ
  • Prof Jae-Ho Cheong, Surgeon-Scientist, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea
  • Prof Graeme Young, Gastroenterologist, Flinders University, SA
  • Dr Dan Renouf, Medical Oncologist, University of British Columbia, Canada

 

The New Concepts Symposium was a stimulating forum for robust discussion and development of research concepts. Ten concepts were submitted this year of which four were chosen for presentation. Dr Lorraine Chantrill was presented the Best New Concept Award sponsored by Specialised Therapeutics for her concept titled, A pilot feasibility and discovery study of neoadjuvant FOLFIRINOX followed by immunotherapy for resectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

The Joint Consumer and Study Coordinator Forum was another highlight. There were presentations on liquid biopsies, rare cancers, a day in the life of a trials manager, and health economics. We also heard about how tele-trials are reaching rural patients and how financial toxicity means that out of pocket expenses may influence treatment decisions.

The Trainees Workshop on Wednesday was a unique opportunity for early career professionals to meet with senior and successful medical, surgical and radiation oncologists who have followed varied paths to their current positions. It explored the many different opportunities available to trainees and how to navigate them.

At the Meeting Dinner on Thursday night, a number of awards were presented by the AGITG:

  • The John Zalcberg OAM Award for Excellence in AGITG Research to Professor John Simes in recognition of his significant and outstanding leadership contribution to AGITG research. His involvement commenced in 1991 when the AGITG was a network of interested Investigators that came together to develop and conduct clinical the first trial in gastro-intestinal cancer, operating under the auspices of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney.  He was a founding member of the AGITG Board and has served on many committees.
  • The AGITG Innovation Fund grant of $200,000 to Professor Janette Vardy and co-investigators for “Oxtox: Can Oxaliplatin dose reduction and neurotoxicity be reduced with ibudilast in people with metastatic colorectal cancer – a phase II randomised study”, award accepted by Dr Christina Teng.
  • The Merck-AGITG Kristian Anderson Award, to Dr Rosemary Habib, receiving one year’s funding for her PhD research project entitled “Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells Targeting Colon Cancer”.
  • Best New Concept Award to Dr Lorraine Chantrill for “A pilot feasibility and discovery study of neoadjuvant FOLFIRINOX followed by immunotherapy for resectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas”.
  • New Concept Runner-Up Award to Dr Wee Loon Ong for “Using the CancerAid® mobile app to collect toxicity and quality of life data to improve the efficiency of trial data collection”;
  • Best Poster to Dr Belinda Lee for ”Pancreatic Cancer: An analysis of ‘Real-World’ stent-related morbidity in the palliative setting”.
  • Best Fast Forward Award to Dr Hui-Li Wong for “Biomarker testing and biomarker-directed treatment utilisation for metastatic colorectal cancer in Australian practice”.
  • The AGITG 2018 Outstanding Site Award to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.

The Dinner also held the eventful AGITG debate, where teams from Australia and New Zealand were battling over the topic ‘Prevention is better than cure’. The night finished with fierce competition as our international guests became tribal leaders in ‘AGITG Survivor’. The high spirits and good nature of the invited faculty made the night a standout.

It was Professor Eva Segelov’s final year as Meeting Convenor and she was recognised for the passion and energy she has brought to the Meeting as Convenor since 2015. We welcomed Dr Lorraine Chantrill as the incoming Convenor for 2019 and beyond

Over 350 delegates attended the Meeting this year, a record number for the AGITG. The energy and collegiate atmosphere was evidence of the passion of the GI cancer research community which the AGITG is proud to cultivate.

Prof Eva Segelov

Prof Eva Segelov
AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting Convenor

Russell Conley

Mr Russell Conley
AGITG Chief Executive Officer

Testimonials

Dr Matthew Burge
Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital

Matt Burge

Dr Matthew Burge

Medical Oncologist
Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital

Winner of the 2014 Best New Concept Award and recipient of the 2016 Innovation Grant for the MONARCC Study: A randomised Phase II study of panitumumab monotherapy versus panitumumab and 5 Fluorouracil as first line treatment for RAS and RAF wild type metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).

“I find the AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting to be an invaluable learning experience. Like many things, what you put in correlates with what you take away. My efforts to submit a new concept proposal were rewarded when it was selected for oral presentation at the New Concepts Symposium at the 2014 meeting. This led to invaluable feedback and ongoing support from the AGITG which has ultimately led to a completed protocol and a study opening to recruitment in March 2018. This is such an exciting outcome for my research career and I have the AGITG to thank for it. The invited faculty is always first class and this meeting provides ample opportunity to network with the faculty (from Australia and overseas) hence learn so much more than just what is delivered in lectures. I can thoroughly recommend attendance at the AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting.”

A/Prof George Hruby
Genesis Cancer Care, Sydney

George Hruby

A/Prof George Hruby

Radiation Oncologist
Genesis Cancer Care, Sydney

“The AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting is like a big, happy, empowering trans-national multi-disciplinary team meeting where state of the art management and current trials are tossed around by key craft groups. For Radiation Oncologists, the RO specific session is invaluable. There is generally an invited speaker who comments on our art during a contouring workshop which is always interactive and inclusive. Several RO contouring guidelines have been published directly consequent to these workshops.”

Prof Andrew Barbour
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane

Prof Andrew Barbour

Prof Andrew Barbour

Surgeon
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane

“The AGITG ASM is a multidisciplinary meeting focussed on the current and future management of GI cancer. It provides not only high quality educational material across the spectrum of GI cancer, but encourages the presentation of new clinical trial ideas. Through the New Concepts Symposium, clinical trial concepts are presented and refined for development into national or international studies. The meeting is suitable for trainees and senior clinicians as well as paramedical practitioners engaged in all aspects of GI cancer management.”

Dr Sharon Pattison
University of Otago and Southern District Health Board, Dunedin

Sharon Pattison

Dr Sharon Pattison

Medical Oncologist
University of Otago and Southern District Health Board, Dunedin

“I attended my first AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting as an advanced trainee newly starting a PhD. It was a great educational meeting that had instructive symposia with an interesting and approachable local and international faculty. Those features have been present at each AGITG ASM that I have subsequently attended, and I have found the ASM to be an invaluable forum for presentation of research, less formal discussion of research themes and ideas, and learning about the challenges involved in clinical trial design. The AGITG ASM environment supports collaboration and networking, and I would highly recommend the meeting to all trainees, researchers, investigators and clinicians who have an interest in gastro-intestinal cancers.”

Ms Anne Smith
Canterbury Regional Cancer and Haematology Service

Anne Smith

Ms Anne Smith

Clinical Trials Manager
Christchurch Oncology Research Unit
Canterbury Regional Cancer and Haematology Service

“Key to the AGITG philosophy is a desire to improve the health and quality of life of people with gastro-intestinal cancer by conducting high quality collaborative clinical trials. In developing and conducting these trials the AGITG has successfully encompassed specialists, nurses, research coordinators, scientists, allied health professionals and consumers.

The AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting provides an excellent forum for all these disciplines to come together to share knowledge and experiences and learn from a wide variety of invited international speakers. Incorporated in the meeting are sessions specifically targeting study coordinators and allied health professionals. Speakers and topics for interactive discussion are chosen to complement the annual theme of the meeting and address issues that may arise from a study coordinator perspective.

This is a valuable meeting and excellent opportunity to learn more about clinical trials, changes in medical practice and to exchange ideas and experiences with other study coordinators.”

Dr Katherine Geddes
St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne

Katherine Geddes

Dr Katherine Geddes

Medical Oncologist & Oncology Research Fellow
St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne

Winner of the 2017 Best New Concept Award

“I find the AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting a great meeting to attend. It is a great opportunity to learn where GI cancer research and practice is heading with many opportunities to network and collaborate. I found the New Concepts process highly supportive, encouraging and a fantastic learning process – it has stimulated my research to a new level, for which I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Melanie McCoy
St John of God Subiaco Hospital, Perth

Melanie McCoy

Melanie McCoy

PhD | Research Fellow
St John of God Subiaco Hospital, Perth

Winner of the 2017 Best Fast-Forward presentation

“The AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting always provides a great opportunity for networking and hearing about cutting-edge research being undertaken in Australia. The mix of clinical trial updates and scientific presentations, along with the varied session formats, makes the meeting interesting and valuable for clinicians, scientists and study co-ordinators alike. I found the 2017 meeting a very enjoyable and informative meeting and was honoured to be awarded the Award for the best presentation in the Fast-Forward session, where I had the opportunity to present on behalf of PhD candidate, Tim Miller.”

Kim Adlard
Royal Hobart Hospital

Kim Adlard

Kim Adlard

RN/Clinical Trials Coordinator
Centre for Clinical Research
Haematology and Oncology
Royal Hobart Hospital

“As a Clinical Trials Coordinator I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend the AGITG 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting in Cairns last year. Through attending the Scientific Sessions I was able to listen to a number of internationally renowned guest speakers, which included gastro-intestinal cancer clinicians, researchers and delegates, and clinical trials management personnel. I found these sessions very informative and interesting and it enhanced my awareness and knowledge regarding research in current and future clinical trials, and feedback on relevant data from closed trials.

I found attending the Study Coordinator Forum most valuable as I was able to meet and share experiences with, and gain knowledge from, other study coordinators from institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand. I was also able to meet and listen to key speakers from the AGITG, including key researchers and clinical trials management personnel, which provided me with the opportunity to both reinforce knowledge and keep me updated on the progress of current and upcoming clinical trials.

I feel the opportunity to attend the AGITG ASM has been of great value to my professional development and practice, as it has provided me the opportunity to increase my understanding of the role of the AGITG and the important contributions it makes towards gastro-intestinal cancer research. This will assist in my day to day practice as it will ensure smoother coordination of trials on which I am working and provide me with greater insight and knowledge which in turn can be provided to colleagues and patients with whom I work.”

Dr David Lau
Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Centre

David Lau

Dr David Lau

Clinical Research Fellow
Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Centre

Recipient of the 2018 Merck-AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship

“The AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting is a thoroughly enjoyable conference for all involved in GI cancer. The AGITG have a longstanding commitment to education and invite a high calibre of international and local speakers to deliver an informative program. As an early-career delegate, the conference provided me with a forum to present my research and meet likeminded clinicians, researchers and new collaborators.”

Prof Karyn A. Goodman, MD, MS
University of Colorado Cancer Center

Karyn Goodman

Prof Karyn A. Goodman, MD, MS

Radiation Oncologist
University of Colorado Cancer Center

2017 Invited Faculty

“The 2017 AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting was a true meeting of the minds in Gastrointestinal Oncology, where research ideas were fostered and refined in a collegial, friendly atmosphere. The meeting was the perfect forum to bring GI oncology specialists from across Australia and New Zealand as well as across disciplines to interact and discuss new directions for clinical trials based on the latest updates from the recently completed and ongoing clinical trials for GI malignancies. As an international attendee, I was impressed by the collaborative spirit that has been established across Australia and New Zealand to support clinical trial development and implementation. The educational component was exceptional, with both local and international experts speaking on a diverse range of topics. The case discussions were particularly stimulating and sparked thought-provoking discussion on controversial clinical scenarios in GI malignancies as well as where we need to focus future research.”

Prof John Bridgewater
UCL Cancer Institute, London

John Bridgewater

Prof John Bridgewater

Medical Oncologist
UCL Cancer Institute, London

2017 Invited Faculty

“It was great pleasure and honour to be invited to Queensland to participate in the AGITG 2017 annual meeting. The atmosphere and environment encouraged discussion, collaboration and invention as such a meeting of dedicated individuals should do. Additionally the ability to get to know colleagues personally enables the research environment hugely. As such the intention of the meeting to encourage collaborative research was extremely effectively met as well as being fun. I had extremely interesting and enjoyable time: thank you Tim and Eva and friends.”

A/Prof Thierry Alcindor
McGill University Health Centre, Montreal

Thierry Alcindor

A/Prof Thierry Alcindor

Medical Oncologist
Center for Innovative Medicine, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal

2017 Visiting Representative of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group

“As a medical oncologist from Canada, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2017 AGITG Scientific Meeting. The mix of clinical and research topics covers all oncological specialties, which allows for productive multi-disciplinary exchanges. The meeting is also the occasion to meet many experts from Australia and New Zealand plus some well-known international speakers. Add to these features a rich and entertaining social program and you have one of the best GI cancer conferences I attended during the year.”