ASCO Signs Memorandum of Understanding With Korean Society of Medical Oncology

September 11, 2023

From left: Korean Society of Medical Oncology Chairman, Board of Directors, Joong Bae Ahn and ASCO Past President Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO, sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations on September 7, 203, at the KSMO Annual Meeting in Seoul. (Photo courtesy of KSMO)

At the recently concluded Korean Society of Medical Oncology (KSMO) Annual Meeting, which took place September 7-8 in Seoul, ASCO signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Society, its first with an organization in Korea.

On September 7, the two organizations held an ASCO-KSMO MOU Signing Ceremony. ASCO Past President Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO, and KSMO President Kyung Hee Lee attended the ceremonial signing with other members and staff from both Societies present.

“Since its founding, KSMO has established itself as a leading voice in medical oncology in Korea, Asia, and around the world,” noted ASCO President Lynn M. Schuchter, MD, FASCO. “Through dedicated efforts in education and research, KSMO has greatly advanced multidisciplinary cancer care to the benefit of countless patients with cancer in Korea. With our many shared goals, KSMO and ASCO have been natural partners since the very beginning.”

The MOU establishes a formal framework for ASCO and KSMO to explore and identify ASCO programs, services, and tools that may assist KSMO and its members in advancing cancer care services, training, and education in Korea. It also fosters the exchange of information and ideas relating to cancer, encourages communication between specialties, and helps people with cancer and their caregivers to access information about cancer.

This will be ASCO’s eleventh MOU with an international organization following agreements with: Japan (Japan Society of Clinical Oncology and Japanese Society of Medical Oncology); China (Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology and Chinese Anti-Cancer Association); Thailand (Thai Society of Clinical Oncology); Brazil (Sociedade Brasileira de Oncologia Clínica); Mexico (Sociedad Mexicana de Oncología); the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer; the European Cancer Organisation; and the World Health Organization.

ASCO and KSMO also held two joint sessions at KSMO 2023, “Targeting rare genomic aberrations in precision oncology” and “Recent updates in multimodality cancer treatment.” Dr. Vokes co-chaired the first session and was a speaker at the second.

“Our joint sessions this year exemplify the kind of collaboration with KSMO that we’ve had for many years,” said Dr. Schuchter. “Together we are exploring the cutting edge of the field, helping our members and colleagues to understand the practical applications of these advances to really benefit our patients.”

ASCO and KSMO have a long history of collaboration, including hosting joint sessions at the two Societies’ annual meetings since 2018.

KSMO also is a regional collaborating partner for ASCO Breakthrough and served a key role in supporting this year’s meeting in Yokohama. The meeting brings together oncology thought leaders, med-tech pioneers, novel drug developers, practicing clinicians, and research trailblazers to discuss challenges, opportunities for collaboration, and potential solutions. The first meeting was held in 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand, and the August 2024 meeting also will be held in Yokohama.

Formalizing ties with KSMO’s is part of ASCO’s increased engagement with oncology care professionals in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2019, ASCO launched the first of its three—and soon to be four—regional councils in the Asia Pacific. The regional councils provide a forum for members to network, collaborate, and work on regional solutions. This can also help identify opportunities and best practices that could be applied to other regions. The Asia Pacific Regional Council representative from Korea, Jeeyun Lee, MD, is serving as the designated liaison from KSMO to help facilitate the MOU and ongoing collaborations between ASCO and KSMO.

“Improving cancer care and supporting the oncology profession may vary in different parts of the world, and therefore a regional approach is needed,” said Doug Pyle, Vice President of International Affairs for ASCO. “ASCO’s Regional Councils facilitate collaboration within a region to identify, prioritize, and address challenges that they are facing.”

From the beginning, one of the key challenges identified by ASCO’s Asia Pacific Regional Council was the need to support young oncologists across the region and develop the next generation of oncology leaders. In response, the regional council worked with ASCO staff to adapt the Leadership Development Program (LDP) to the needs of early-career members in the Asia Pacific region.

The LDP is a yearlong program that provides early-career oncologists opportunities to learn valuable leadership skills, receive mentorship from ASCO leaders, and experience the Society’s roles and mission firsthand.

There now have been two LDP cohorts selected for the Asia Pacific region and each included a participant from Korea. The 2020-2021 class included Minkyu Jung, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at Yonsei University College of Medicine at chief of the Palliative Care Center at Yonsei University Health System’s Yonsei Cancer Center in Seoul. Dr. Jung was joined by 11 other participants who worked on and initiated several projects, including examining barriers and opportunities to collaborative clinical research, models for sustainable cancer registries, and strategies to garner political will for cancer control efforts at the country level. The 2023-2024 class is currently in session and working on various projects important to local oncology care team members. Representing Korea in this class is Young Saing Kim, MD, from the Gil Medical Center at the Gachon University College of Medicine in Seongnam.

The ASCO-KSMO MOU adds another branch of cooperation between ASCO and oncology professionals in the Asia Pacific region who are seeking training for students and early-career professionals.

Also in 2023, the Asia Pacific Regional Council worked on a special series in JCO Global Oncology, “Cancer Care in the Asia Pacific.” Topics included palliative care, female leadership in oncology, cost of care, and personalized medicine in low- and middle-income countries.