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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Changing Leadership at the Institutional Review Board

March 2011 - Linkage Newsletter

by Victoria A. McCallum

In December, Nancy Potischman, Ph.D., a nutritional epidemiologist in the Applied Research Program of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, finished a two-year term as chair of the NCI Special Studies Institutional Review Board (SSIRB). She was succeeded as chair by Catherine Schairer, Ph.D., Biostatistics Branch.

NCI Special Studies Institutional Review Board chairs Nancy Potischman (outgoing) and Catherine Schairer (incoming).In an additional change to SSIRB, Lynn Sayers, the SSIRB protocol coordinator since 1996, officially retired in December. Susan Privot, Office of the Director, the SSIRB executive secretary, described Ms. Sayers as having a wealth of expertise and being a joy to work with. "All of the investigators loved her," she said. "She will certainly be missed."

"We want to thank both Lynn Sayers and Nancy Potischman for their outstanding service to the SSIRB," said Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., M.D., Director of DCEG. Dr. Schairer, the incoming chair, promised that "the SSIRB will continue in Dr. Potischman's tradition of keeping things as transparent and as easy as possible for the scientists, while still protecting human subjects."

As a part of that process, Dr. Schairer plans to promote education about the IRB and to post checklists and IRB requirements on the DCEG intranet to provide easy access. Scientists will be apprised of any changes to IRB regulations, particularly in regard to genomic research and associated privacy issues. Finally, Dr. Schairer hopes to get feedback from investigators who have any concerns or questions about the IRB process.

Dr. Schairer brings to the SSIRB considerable research experience, primarily in breast cancer etiology. She has conducted landmark research on menopausal hormone replacement therapy and cancer risk, particularly with the estrogen/progestin regimen. She is currently directing a collaborative study of inflammatory breast cancer within high-risk populations in North Africa.