Dr. Michael LeBlanc of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been named the new group statistician of SWOG, heading its Statistical Center. Formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group, SWOG is a large national clinical trials group that studies many different adult cancers.
The SWOG Statistical Center is shared between the Hutchinson Center and the nonprofit Cancer Research and Biostatistics (CRAB). It has been part of the Hutchinson Center since 1984, when the former group statistician, Dr. John Crowley, then with PHS, moved it from Houston to Seattle. Crowley is CRAB’s president and chief executive officer, and was the SWOG head statistician for 28 years. "I appreciate that I have big shoes to fill," LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc has been a member of the SWOG team for much of his career. He joined the Hutchinson Center in 1995, but before that, his first professional publication was as a co-author on a SWOG study in 1990. LeBlanc comes to his new role from a position as lead statistician on SWOG’s lymphoma committee.
"You learn something new every day, even if you’ve been part of it for a long time," LeBlanc said about taking on his new position, which he assumed this spring.
Before studying lymphoma, LeBlanc worked on head and neck cancers and sarcoma. His area of statistical research involves clinical trial design and analysis.
SWOG has approximately 100 clinical trials under way at any given time. As cancer therapies become more targeted at specific cancer or tumor types, SWOG’s statistical methods are evolving, LeBlanc said. Targeted cancer therapies require different clinical trial designs and data analysis.
SWOG’s statisticians are primarily at the Hutchinson Center, while CRAB has hosted the group’s data operations since 1997, when CRAB was founded.