International Melanoma Working Group (IMWG)
What if you gathered many of the world’s most renowned melanoma researchers in one room and let them talk?
In April 2006, AIM at Melanoma did just that. The first International Melanoma Working Group (IMWG) meeting took place in Prague. For three days, at this intense, unique think-tank event, researchers cited the need for unprecedented world-wide collaboration in order to conquer melanoma.
Eleven years later, AIM continues to organize semi-annual IMWG meetings, at which researchers and their pharmaceutical industry partners gather to accelerate the quest for more effective therapies and, ultimately, find the CURE.
Through the combination of scientific talent and tireless determination, IMWG will be the beginning of the end of the unforgiving burden on patients, families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals who battle melanoma every day.
Current Focus of IMWG
The IMWG is focusing on two major research initiatives, the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC) and the Melanoma International Collaboration for Adaptive Trials (MICAT), as well as several other critical collaborations.
Members of the IMWG have cited the lack of resources to acquire primary tissue as a major hurdle in melanoma research, preventing extensive exploration of tumor progression, biological markers, and drug development. Collecting and studying primary melanoma tissue is critical in making significant advances and ultimately finding the CURE for the disease.
To address this major research deficit, IMWG has called for an international melanoma primary tumor tissue bank. In response, AIM at Melanoma has partnered with four medical research institutions across the United States and one international site to create the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC).
IMTBC will gather 500 specimens with full annotation and accompanying blood and urine samples over the next two years and make those specimens and samples available for research. Each host institution is recognized for its proven commitment to melanoma research. Public and private medical researchers worldwide, engaged in qualified research, can apply for access to the tissue bank. (Read more about IMTBC.)
The IMWG also has advocated for an international adaptive platform trial to test new melanoma drugs and combinations. Adaptive clinical trial design allows for faster answers, greater precision, and, for patients, more success than standard clinical trials. By eliminating the need to initiate a large, lengthy, and costly trial for each drug possibility, adaptive trials are able to deliver the right drug to the right patient at the right time.
AIM at Melanoma and the IMWG, partnering with PPD, Berry Consultants, and RA Capital, have set in motion the framework for the first adaptive trial in melanoma, called MICAT. The first arms of the study should open in late 2017. (Read more about MICAT.)
Other IMWG Goals
- – Expansion of the Sentinel Node Procurement and Assessment Protocol to enable an in-depth assessment of the molecular profile and immunomodulation of melanoma.
- – Collaboration on the expansion of the Melanoma Molecular Map Project through direct support for continual identification of new melanoma-specific targets and pathways. IMWG wishes to further enlarge this project by seeking research into the complex vulnerabilities and survival mechanisms of melanoma, by collecting findings of target and pathway interactions.
2017 IMWG Meetings
The first IMWG meeting of 2017 took place in Athens, Greece, in May, and the second meeting of 2017 is scheduled for Florence, Italy, in November.
Current IMWG Members
- Peter Hersey, MD, DPhil, University of Sydney
- Richard Kefford, MD, PhD, Macquarie University
- Grant McArthur, MD, PhD, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
- Georgina Long, MD, PhD, The University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital
- Bart Neyns, UZ Brussel
- Jean-Jacques Grob, MD, Hopital de la Timone
- Thomas Tüting, MD, University Hospital Bonn
- Helen Gogas, MD, PhD, University of Athens
- Michele Malo, MD, PhD, University Hospital of Siena
- Paolo Ascierto, MD, Istituto Nazionale Tumori – Fondazione “G. Pascale”
- John Haanen, PhD, Netherlands Cancer Institute
- Josep Malvehy, MD, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona
- John Hansson, MD, Karolinska Hospital
- Reinhard Dummer, MD, PhD, University of Zurich
- Mark Middleton, MD, PhD, Medical Oncology Unit, Churchill Hospital
- Keith Wheatley, D.Phil, University of Birmingham
- Richard Marais, PhD, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research
- John M. Kirkwood, MD, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
- Mohammed Kashani-Sabet, MD, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
- Thomas F. Gajewski, MD, PhD, University of Chicago
- Alistair J. Cochran, MD, UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine
- Sancy Leachman, MD, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University
- Michael Davies, MD, PhD, MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Soldano Ferrone, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School
- Keith Delman, MD, FACS, Emory University – Winship Cancer Institute
- AIM at Melanoma