Introduction/Background*The TransPORTEC Consortium was established in 2013 by the PIs and translational science representatives of the PORTEC-3 trial groups from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and France. Purpose of the collaboration is to improve treatment of endometrial cancer (EC) patients. Here, we evaluate our experience with international collaboration to identify challenges and strengths.
Methodology Result(s)*: Since its establishment, TransPORTEC had a strong scientific team of chief investigators, translational leads and core members from participating groups. Twice-yearly TransPORTEC-meetings were organised to build and maintain friendships, share results and discuss new proposals. Over time, the TransPORTEC-biobank has expanded with PORTEC-trial tumour tissues and other cohorts, and is now the world’s largest set of molecularly classified ECs. The research focus has expanded to include molecular cancer immunology and digital pathology. The group’s output include 10 scientific papers and numerous posters and presentations on (inter)national meetings. Their analysis of PORTEC-3 showing differences in chemotherapy effect by molecular group led to initiating an international program with 4 clinical trials on Refining Adjuvant treatment IN endometrial cancer Based On molecular features (RAINBO) to compare personalised to standard treatment in terms of efficacy, toxicity, quality of life and cost-utility (figure 1). Tumour material of all participants will be collected for translational research. To achieve this, the consortium evolved: new talented members were attracted and trial-specific and expertise teams were installed (figure 2). Despite this impacting on group equilibrium, the collaboration is continuously productive. Keys to success were frequent meetings, sharing of draft protocols and experiences with contacting (inter)national research organisations and potential funders. The first of the RAINBO trials is expected to open by the end of 2021 and the program will probably fuel translational research for years to come.
Conclusion*International research collaborations are dynamic and demanding. Challenges include: balancing between a stable organisational structure and flexibility to adapt to opportunities; providing all members with a satisfying share; and acquisition of funding for academic-sponsored international trials. Strengths are the profound interaction and trust between members with different expertise and backgrounds and shared ambitions and successes, resulting in unique and innovative academic research projects with leverage.
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