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24 July 2020

ITMIG Progress Report, Spring 2020

Volume 9, Issue 1

ITMIG New Officers 2020 

by Edith Marom

ITMIG conducted elections for officer positions whose term was completed for the positions of President, Vice-president, Secretary, and Treasurer. The ITMIG constitution calls for these positions to be filled a year in advance so that the new “officers-elect” can work alongside the existing officers for a year before taking over at the annual meeting in 2020. The Nominating Committee, chaired by Dr. Frank Detterbeck, chose candidates for election taking into account capability and willingness to serve; choosing among those nominated in a way that aims to maintain a balance on the Steering Committee with respect to specialty, geographic regions and senior and junior members and balances the need for continuity and new ideas. We are blessed to have such capable, motivated, team players within our society from across the world in many domains of medicine. Elections were close with such talented candidates. I am pleased to announce the results of the elections:

President – Nicolas Girard will be replacing Edith Marom as President in October, 2020. Nicolas Girard is a medical oncologist at the Institute Curie in Paris, France and leads the Rhythmic group in France (a national organized care delivery system for thymic tumors). He has been a prominent member of ITMIG since the beginning and served as Vice President from 2010-14. He has also been leading the ITMIG Database, the Virtual Tumor Bank and the Biology Working Group. He has devoted his career to rare malignancies, especially thymic malignancies and has been instrumental in developing platforms that can improve care.

Vice President – Andreas Rimner was approved to remain for a second term as Vice President. Andreas Rimner is professor of
radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He has been consistently and extensively engaged in ITMIG and has been active as the Vice President during his previous term (2018- 2020). He also leads the Thymic Carcinoma Committee and has led or been involved in many ITMIG committees, working groups and projects.

Secretary – Margaret Szolkowska will be replacing Alan Kirk as Secretary in October, 2020. Margaret Szolkowska is a pathologist at the National Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases Research Institute in Warsaw, Poland. She is the Program Committee co-chair for the ITMIG 2020 meeting. She has been an energetic contributor in many ITMIG activities, always quick to respond, to contribute however she can and to promote ITMIG more broadly.

Treasurer – Josh Sonett was approved to remain for a second term as Treasurer. Josh Sonett is the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Columbia University in New York. He has a longstanding interest in mediastinal disease, myasthenia gravis and was a leader in the randomized study of thymectomy for myasthenia gravis. He has supported ITMIG since the beginning in 2010 and has been a very proactive treasurer for ITMIG since 2018. He is willing to continue to devote his energy and skills to helping with fundraising for ITMIG.

Additional existing members who remain on the steering committee as counselors are:

  • Suki Padda, Medical Oncology, Stamford, California, USA
  • Usman Ahmad, Thoracic Surgery, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  • Ichiro Yoshino, Thoracic Surgery, Tokyo, Japan
  • Andrea Bille, Thoracic Surgery, NHS, UK

I would like to congratulate this new team which brings diversity and fresh ideas to the steering committee. We are all looking forward to a smooth transition in the upcoming year for a new term of meaningful productivity.


ITMIG Annual Meeting:

Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
October 10-12, 2019 

by Edith Marom

Every ITMIG annual meeting is unique, not only in location but also in educational content and social events. Selecting a venue for the meeting begins more than two years in advance with the goal of alternating between the Americas, Europe and Asia. Since its inaugural meeting in New York in 2010, ITMIG has held its annual conferences in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Fukoka, Japan; Bethesda, MD, USA; Antwerp, Belgium; Shanghai, China; San Francisco, CA, USA; Torino, Italy; and Seoul, South Korea. The 2019 meeting was recently held in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada at the Queen’s Landing Hotel from October 10-12, 2019. As the President of ITMIG I had the honor of participating in the venue selection, program design and organization. Fortunately, ITMIG has many very talented people, some of whom were on the Planning Committee helping to make this conference happen. On the planning side, a special thank you is needed to Conrad Falkson whose insight helped us tremendously on the final venue selection, social events and the formation of the program. Sukhmani Padda deserves an applause as well for her special insights regarding the program, ability to engage interesting speakers and her attention to the small details which make a conference a success. Of course, none of this would be possible without the constant support in planning from Pam Bruce, ITMIG’s administrator and from ICS.

We had close to one hundred participants; representatives from countries of four continents: Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States. The scientific program was diverse including a special session on thymic immunobiology delivered by Kenneth Weinberg from Stanford University, USA, with fascinating insights on how the thymus shapes the immune system. This was followed by a session on the surgical approach to thymoma critically evaluating current practice, an international update on thymic initiatives world-wide, as well as, worldwide clinical and surgical trials. Current initiatives for the future 9th Edition TNM staging were examined showing current worldwide implementation and issues with the application of the 8th Edition TNM system as assessed by a recently conducted survey. A crash course in radiotherapy was given which was very straightforward and engaged all of those non-radiation oncologists in the audience and it also raised questions as to the correct treatment of this disease. The meeting culminated in a fascinating tumor board with an engaging discussion by experts and a amulti-disciplined audience. Seventeen intriguing scientific abstracts were presented as well as twenty four scientific posters. A special thanks to Mirella Marino, Malgorzata Szolkowska and Anja Roden. For the first time at an ITMIG’s annual conference. They created a half-day pathology workshop taking this opportunity to iron out some of the burning issues pathologists face with this rare disease.

This was the first meeting to be held in Canada. We were blessed with beautiful crisp weather, clear skies and the changing colors of the trees typical to the area in the fall. To top this off our social events were fun and helped participants network. This was also the first time a Fun Run/Walk fundraiser was organized. It was in memory of Alan Blaustein, one of the founders of ITMIG who initiated the formation of ITMIG together with Alan Neibauer. Eager to give it a try, 28 participated in the run. Not only did the participants rise to the occasion by running so early in the morning, but by engaging friends, colleagues, families and patients they were able to raise $3500 for ITMIG. The number one fundraiser was Josh Sonnet. Aside from the Fun Run, another highlight of the meeting was the Gala Dinner. With breathtaking views overlooking Niagara Falls (lit in the ITMIG colors) we enjoyed a luxurious meal together. An unforgettable experience.

I am honored to serve as the 3rd President of the International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group and I look forward to working with all the committee chairs and members in pursuing the core mission of ITMIG: “To promote the advancement of clinical and basic science pertaining to thymic and other mediastinal malignancies and related conditions”.


Committees and Working Groups

As a reminder, all of our committee calls are open to ITMIG members and that includes patients and advocate members. If you are interested in more information about a particular committee please contact Pam Bruce, pbruce@thymic.org. The schedule of committees will be posted on our website shortly.

ITMIG 2020 Program Committee 

by Malgorzata Szolkowska

NOTE: Meeting date postponed to 2021

The 11th International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group Annual Meeting (ITMIG 2020) that was scheduled for October 8-11 in Warsaw, Poland at the Marriott Hotel (Al. Jerozolimskie 65/79, Warsaw) will now take place at the same location on October 14-16, 2021. The meeting will be co-hosted by Polish Lung Cancer Group (Polska Grupa Raka Płuca, PolGRP), a Polish multidisciplinary organization for clinicians and researchers that specializes in thoracic malignancies.

The proposed topics of sessions should be of great interest to many specialists: thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, diagnostic radiologists, pulmonologists and neurologists. Practical workshops for pathologists and radiologists based on analysis of microscopic slides and CT or MRI scans, respectively, will be unique features of the meeting in Warsaw.

An additional attraction at the ITMIG 2021 Annual Meeting for attendees whose cases often include lung cancer patients will be a joint session of PolGRP and ITMIG dedicated to the most recent therapeutic methods for advanced lung malignancies treatment.

ITMIG Webinars 

by Pam Bruce

ITMIG is excited to announce a new webinar series coming to members and nonmembers this fall (Schedule TBA). This online series will be in lieu of our 2020 Annual Meeting and will serve to keep our ITMIG community connected and productive. A Webinar planning committee will start working immediately to organize interesting topics and presenters as well as testing technical possibilities). ITMIG has the ability through our WebEx provider to host up to 250 attendees via the web. Please stay tuned for more details.

Mediastinal Working Group 

by Anja C. Roden

We have finalized our project, The Distribution of Mediastinal Lesions across Multi- Institutional, International, Radiology Databases, that included over 3,300 patients from eleven institutions from three continents. The manuscript was submitted to the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. We met and brainstormed our next projects at the ITMIG Annual Meeting in Niagara on the Lake. We identified two projects:

  • Radiologic, morphologic and clinical features of mediastinal hemangiomas and lymphangiomas. These lesions are radiologically often thought to be thymomas or germ cell tumors. We will have a centralized radiology and pathology review for all cases. In addition we will study the surgical approaches, clinical presentation, demographics and outcomes of patients with these neoplasms.
  • Clinical features and pathologic and radiologic findings of mediastinal germ cell tumors. This is another group of rare mediastinal tumors with unique radiologic and pathologic findings. We are planning to create a database and a central review of radiologic images and pathology slides.

As cases for these two projects are extremely rare we invite you to join our project. If you have any cases and would be interested in getting involved please contact Anja Roden, roden.anja@mayo.edu.

ITMIG Research & Infrastructure Committee 

by Andreas Rimner

Andreas Rimner took over the lead for the Research & Infrastructure as the vice president of ITMIG in 2019. We would like to specifically thank Anja Roden for her excellent work spearheading this committee as the past vice president.

We hold a monthly conference call typically on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 10 AM EST. The committee serves to coordinate the various working groups and committees involved in research & infrastructure of ITMIG and to identify gaps and areas of overlaps between the groups. We receive updates from the Database Committee, Biology/Tumor Bank Working Group, Thymic Carcinoma Working Group, Research/Clinical Trials Working Group and Outlier Analysis Working Group. The diagram below shows the leads for each of the committees that provide updates to the Research & Infrastructure Committee. This is not a hierarchical chart but organizational in nature to illustrate which committees are involved.

We would like to thank all the contributors to the Research & Infrastructure Committee for their diligent work, regular updates and efforts to coordinate the various research activities within ITMIG. Working groups may be added, merged or removed on an as-needed basis.

Please reach out to us if you have any ideas of what working groups may benefit from being included in the Research & Infrastructure Committee or if you have ideas for new working groups that would make us even more effective.

Database Committee 

by Nicolas Girard

Throughout 2019 work continued on several studies using our Retrospective Database which are anticipated to be completed in 2021; meanwhile we obtained support from IASLC to update the survival and outcomes for patients enrolled in the database.

Our one of a kind Prospective Database is currently in the process of being transferred from Purdue University in the United States to Institut Curie in Paris, France. Institut Curie is one of the leading medical, biological and biophysical research centres in the world. It is a private non-profit foundation operating a research center on biophysics, cell biology and oncology and a hospital specializing in the treatment of cancer. We are excited about completing the data transfer and getting our Prospective Database up and running! We have a team of people from Purdue and Curie that are collaborating. We anticipate the Database will be ready in summer 2020. Thereafter we will be in contact with all contributors and will launch a Request for Proposals (RFP) with the membership to begin before the end of the year.

ITMIG and IASLC Join Efforts for Next Staging Cycle:
IASLC is supporting ITMIG to optimize data collection for the next iteration of TNM staging. ITMIG members (Usman Ahmad & Enrico Ruffini) have been funded by IASLC to update follow up on previously available cases in the retrospective database (that was also used for the 8th TNM System).

If you participated and contributed data to the ITMIG retrospective database, please contact us to help update follow up on your cases. (Usman Ahmad. Database committee co-chair: ahmadu@ccf.org).

ITMIG Thymic Carcinoma Working Group 

by Abigail Berman

Abigail Berman took over the lead of the Thymic Carcinoma Working Group in 2019. We continue to have regular attendance of about 10 “active” members from multiple disciplines during our monthly conference call which are currently held on the first Wednesday of the month at 7 AM EST. Most ongoing projects are related to the fields of pathology and radiation oncology. This is likely a function of the most active members in this working group. Current projects include:

  1. Role of postoperative radiation therapy for thymic carcinomas based on the Retrospective ITMIG Database presented at the Annual Meeting of ITMIG 2019, manuscript in preparation.
  2. Outcomes of definitive radiation therapy in patients with unresectable thymic malignancies.
  3. Failure patterns in thymic carcinomas in relation to the radiation treatment fields.
  4. Radiation therapy for recurrent thymic tumors.
  5. Contribution to a meta-analysis of postoperative radiation therapy for thymic carcinomas.
  6. An IHC atlas for thymic carcinomas.
  7. IMPACT/molecular testing of pairs of primary vs recurrent thymic tumors.

Other ideas under consideration are a survey on the management of more complex thymic carcinoma cases, a new set of ITMIG guidelines or systematic review on the management of Masaoka stage II/TNM stage I thymic tumors in regards to indications of postoperative radiation therapy and surgical principles specifically for thymic carcinomas.

I would like to especially thank all the members of the Thymic Carcinoma Working Group. We welcome anyone who is interested in joining; we are specifically seeking more engagement from thoracic surgeons and thoracic medical oncologists for this working group.

ITMIG Tumor Board 

by Pam Bruce

OurTumor Board meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7 AM EST. However, additional times/dates can be arranged with notice. The Board has had some very informative reviews over the past year. One of the case reviews was published; see link below. http://med.amegroups.com/article/view/4483/5512

All members are welcome to listen in on the reviews via phone and WebEx. Please let Pam Bruce know if you would like to do so. We will continue to send monthly emails calling for cases to be reviewed. If there are no cases for a particular month the Tumor Board is canceled for that month.

Finance Committee 

by Josh Sonett

The Finance Committee was very active in 2019 collaborating on new fundraising ideas for ITMIG. We launched the online Rally for Thymic Cancer fundraiser that raised nearly $6,000. We are grateful to our members, patients and families that contributed to this fundraiser. The Finance Committee is also active in trying to help raise funds for our annual meeting. This is part of our ongoing mission to help collaborate and foster relationships with potential company sponsors. The annual meeting is paid for through registration fees and sponsorship funds; not with money from donations or ITMIG general funds that help run the organization.

The committee has discussed ways to help with ITMIG’s visibility including raising awareness about ITMIG while at the same time educating about thymic cancer. We will be working in 2020 to produce a video that includes some testimonial about the organization and patient stories.

The Steering Committee voted last year to increase our annual dues to $150. This was not something we were able to do automatically for everyone. Therefore, for payments moving forward we will be contacting each member in the beginning of the month in which their payment is due for autopay to let them know they need to log onto the website to update their rate information. You can at that time reinstate auto pay in PayPal. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. Let Pam Bruce know if you have any difficulties or concern.

Communication Committee 

by Alan Kirk

The Communication Committee met in 2019 on a monthly basis, the second Tuesday of the month, and will continue to do so in 2020.

The main focuses of discussion have been in supporting Pam Bruce in producing the ITMIG newsletter, discussion about social media (Facebook and Twitter) and developing a page on the website for patients and caregivers. The major focus for this year will be to expand ITMIG’s social media presence and to improve access to these platforms.

Another initiative that was worked on by a tremendously helpful volunteer, Geralyn Johnson, is a PowerPoint presentation giving background on ITMIG and thymic cancer. The goal will be to take this presentation to communities or health institutions to educate people about the disease.

The Committee will also work with the Finance Committee to help facilitate the development of an ITMIG video; all in an effort to help increase awareness for ITMIG and thymic cancer.

On Facebook an ITMIG Advocates page has been created. These are mainly patients that are interested in sharing, advocating for awareness or volunteering to help ITMIG in other ways.

The committee also discussed soliciting the membership for their activities and involvement in thymoma outside of ITMIG. In 2020 Pam Bruce will send a request to the membership to share this information. Thereafter a monthly notification will be sent to membership and patient groups on social media sharing our members are involvement with a disease that all of us have an interest in learning more about.


Last but not least…

Donations and Amazon

Many of us use Amazon on a regular basis. We are happy to announce ITMIG is an organization on Amazon Smile, www.smile.amazon.com. This means when you enter ITMIG as your organization of choice you will support us when you shop on Amazon. They will donate 5% of eligible purchases in cash to ITMIG. You simply shop and Amazon will donate directly to us.

Bands and Pins

The Foundation for Thymic Cancer Research has created orange and purple wrist bands in support of thymic cancer awareness. They are $10 for a set of 5. We also have orange pins that are available and cost $12 a pin. To purchase, please contact Pam Bruce, pbruce@thymic.org.

Volunteers

Over the years ITMIG has had some tremendous patient volunteers for whom we are so grateful who have helped Pam Bruce with administrative tasks. For example, sending thank yous to all donors, sending welcome letters to new members, helping promote ITMIG on social media, helping to create an ITMIG advocates group, creating educational materials, editing these newsletters and much more. A special thank you to Carolyn Greene, Sherri O’Donnell, Geralyn Johnson, Donna Spangler and Karyn Yagel to name a few.



If you are interested in getting more involved with ITMIG, we have a list of projects as well as administrative tasks. Please let Pam Bruce know if you can make some time for us and want more information.

Progress Reports

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