Christopher Lieu, MD

Christopher Lieu, MD

A University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator has been recognized for leading, educating and supporting other physician/scientists. Christopher Lieu, MD, CU Cancer Center’s deputy associate director for clinical research, has received a 2017 National Cancer Institute Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award (CCITLA).

The award is a supplement to the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) recognizing CU Cancer Center as an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, one of 47 such centers in the United States. The supplement supports mid-level clinical investigators at NCI-designated cancer centers participating in NCI-funded clinical trials and clinical research efforts.

Lieu will lead CU Cancer Center’s efforts in further developing an Investigator-Initiated Trials Committee, which he began when he was deputy director of the CU Cancer Center’s Clinical Trials Office (CCTO). Many clinical trials are managed by drug companies hoping to test the promise of new medicines. Investigator-initiated trials allow doctors and researchers to test treatments that their hands-on experience in the lab and clinic imply may offer meaningful results. At the CU Cancer Center, the CCTO is a group of more than 100 individuals, including certified research associates, a finance team, and a regulatory team.

“I feel honored,” says Lieu. “This award provides support to ensure we are doing things the right way, improving education particularly for clinical investigators and standardizing the way we conduct investigator-initiated research.”

Investigator-initiated trials are a priority at CU Cancer Center but present unique challenges when it comes to regulatory issues and scientific reviews.

“CU Cancer Center leadership has provided the infrastructure and financial support for expanding clinical trials developed by our investigators,” says Lieu. “We like the idea of a team surrounding physician/scientists making sure everything is consistent and dedicated to the unique challenges that investigator-initiated trials present.”

The Investigator-Initiated Trials Committee will streamline the process for Investigator-Initiated Trial concept development, protocol development, and approval. His team will work to improve the Investigator-Initiated Trial pipeline, feasibility, protocol development, funding, and to create better efficiency in the timelines to open these trials.

“Chris’s own innovative trials are providing new options for colorectal cancer patients, especially patients who happen to be young,” says Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center.

“His work shows that these young patients may have a genetically distinct form of the disease, requiring different treatments and new protocols for management and monitoring. This honor from the National Cancer Institute will help Chris guide other CU Cancer Center investigators in their ability to design, manage and recruit patients for their own innovative, investigator-initiated clinical trials.”