The non-profit Japanese Gynecologic Oncology Group (JGOG) is a clinical research group that works with major Universities and Cancer Centers throughout the country in an effort to establish the optimal and latest diagnostic and therapeutic methods for patients with gynecologic malignancies.
The JGOG conducts collaborative studies with clinical research groups, including the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) of the United States and the Gynecologic Cancer Intergroup (GCIG), a global association of organizations. High-quality data from these studies have appeared in Therapeutic Guidelines around the world and have become recognized as standard therapies.
JGOG accumulates, manages, and stores anonymized patient data securely and with the patients’ consent at the Data Center (Kitasato Academic Research Organization), which is independent of the JGOG.) The analyzed results are disclosed to researchers before the trial is complete. Then, we present the results at medical congresses and in the literature to disseminate the findings to the world.
If we can obtain statistically better therapeutic results than those in the past, the new therapy becomes the new standard treatment. The purpose of our clinical studies, which are conducted rigorously from the multi-occupational perspectives of patients, researchers (health practitioners), clinical research coordinators (CRCs), and biostatisticians at the Data Center, as well as commercial and business professionals, is to deliver the most effective treatment to the patients.
Despite its long history, since 2002, the JGOG has been promoting restructuring as a non-profit organization in Tokyo, and reinforcing its activities as a more rigorous clinical research group.
As of January 2015, the JGOG is comprised of 1000 members and 197 participating institutions that have met the most stringent standards for certification. As mentioned above, the most significant role of the JGOG is to conduct multi-institutional clinical research projects, or, in other words, to conduct clinical research of significance and provide the patients around the world who suffer from gynecologic malignancies with better treatment options.
To be more specific, the research projects consist of committees, including the Cervical Cancer (Vulva Cancer) Committee, Uterine Cancer Committee, and Ovarian Cancer Committee, as well as the Supportive and Palliative Care Committee, Radiotherapy Committee, and Pathology Review Committee, that create stricter protocols by working with the Data Center and considering the patients’ perspectives. Internally, the Protocol Review and Evaluation Committee and independent inspectors enter the participating institutions periodically to determine if the appropriate protocol treatments are being provided. This is a similar approach as that of collaborative trials with the American GOG and the GCIG.
A second goal of the JGOG is to provide educational projects for young clinical researchers. Each year, we select a number of young researchers to participate in a 3-day seminar where they participate in heart-to-heart discussions on such issues as “What is clinical research?,” “How do we conduct clinical research?” and “What are medical ethics?”. In addition, during the seminar, we create mock protocols.
Further, the JGOG provides short-term overseas training for young physicians, open lectures, and support for events including “the Gynecologic Cancer Conference,” which promotes clinical studies. Our fostering of young investigators of gynecologic cancers is making solid progress, and this effort can be expected to lead to better health care in the future. Clinical studies require substantial funding, and, in Western countries, public funds are provided after rigorous screening.
In contrast, the injection of public funds is limited under the current Japanese system. In addition to membership fees, donations from businesses (supporting members) that understand the significance of our clinical studies become the primary source of the project funds, such as the costs of the Data Center, the Head Office, and educational projects. In recent years, we have read disturbing reports of misconduct in clinical research. However, the researchers and supporting businesses involved in JGOG clinical research are prohibited from managing or analyzing its data.
We receive the securely-managed results from the Data Center and deliver them to the patients. These high-quality data is the valuable treasure that is returned to future patients and to us as researchers, and is our motivation in these endeavors. JGOG hopes to reinforce its structure, to raise the awareness of its members and institutional personnel, and to achieve maximum results from the limited resources available.
The third goal of the JGOG is to share all perspectives. I would like to ask for further efforts by all persons concerned, as well as for the understanding of my fellow citizens.
Finally, I would like to introduce a quote from Inazo Nitobe, a native of Iwate, that agrees with JGOG’s ideals and goals:
“We must show the world that even if we do not have money, things done out of the right motivation will succeed handsomely in this manner.”
Dies Faustus, January 2015