Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Honors Siteman Researchers

Jim Goodwin

Ravi Vij, MD

Feb. 1, 2013 – The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has given its inaugural Innovator Award to Washington University School of Medicine researchers at the Siteman Cancer Center.

The award recognizes research aimed at developing personalized treatments for patients with multiple myeloma. The disease is the second most common blood cancer, striking nearly 22,000 Americans annually.

Scientists at 17 academic sites are participating in the foundation-sponsored research.

"We are honored to be recognized by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and to collaborate with our partner institutions in the study," says Ravi Vij, MD, a medical oncologist and associate professor of medicine who leads the study at Siteman. "We are working together to improve the lives of patients at Siteman and around the world."

In 2011, Washington University and Siteman became the first academic site to enroll patients in the landmark study, known as CoMMpass (Clinical Outcomes in Multiple Myeloma to Personal Assessment of Genetic Profile). Participating scientists will follow 1,000 newly diagnosed patients over five years to learn why those with certain genetic markers react better to particular therapies. The information could lead to personalized treatments based on the genetic makeup of individual patients.

The research also benefits multiple myeloma patients today, Vij says, because participants have access to personalized therapies that otherwise might not be available.

In 2011, the affiliated Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium recognized Washington University with its Center of the Year Award. The award is based on the number of clinical trials launched and patients enrolled. Institutions involved in the study also were evaluated on their contribution of new ideas and institutional engagement.