The International Myeloma Foundation held its fifth Master Class from August 15–20, 2016. This prestigious advanced training course is offered annually to leading young Chinese hematologists, selected for participation by the Chinese Myeloma Committee. The course is hosted by the IMF in Los Angeles, California.

The 2016 Master Class participants included 10 young doctors from all corners of China, ranging from Shenyang in the Northeast to Lanzhou in the Northwest, to Nanning and Guangzhou in the South and to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai in the East.

The Master Class faculty included IMF’s Chairman, Dr. Brian Durie, IMF Board Member Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, and International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) experts Dr. Tom Martin and Dr. Jean-Luc Harousseau.

The program included a series of lectures on key myeloma topics, followed by discussion sessions, a visit to the City of Hope cancer transplant center, a tour of the IMF headquarters for discussions on IMF programs, and participation in the IMF’s Patient & Family Seminar wherein the young Chinese doctors joined in patient consults with Dr. Durie and IMWG member Dr. Rafat Abonour.

IMF’s President Susie Novis Durie opened the Master Class by recalling the origins and history of the program. She expressed the IMF’s great satisfaction in being able to participate in the training of Chinese physicians, noting that China is a key country for myeloma patient support. Doctors in China face numerous challenges in treating myeloma due to large numbers of patients and limited access to modern treatment options. The IMF is pleased that the Master Class allows for work in close cooperation with the Chinese Myeloma Committee to enhance understanding about diagnosis and treatment approaches and to promote increased access to the best treatments for Chinese patients.

At the beginning of the session, Chinese doctors were asked to report on the work of their myeloma centers, describing available facilities, the number and type of patients they see, the usual standard of care they provide, and their own work schedules and arrangements. This was important background information for the IMF experts, especially when considering potential guidelines for myeloma treatment in China.

The Master Class program was designed to follow the IMF’s 10 Steps for Better Care®. From diagnosis to long-term survival, the 10 Steps paradigm is a guide through the myeloma journey. Dr. Durie presented the 10 Steps, explaining the sequential approach taken in this tool, which covers diagnosis, testing requirements, and various stages of treatment, and concludes with a review of clinical trials and future requirements. Dr. Durie then spoke on frontline therapy recommendations with options first for transplant eligible patients and then for transplant-ineligible patients.

In his sessions, Dr. Rajkumar provided lectures on monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) as well as a presentation on new diagnostic criteria with implications for the future. Together with Dr. Durie, 

Dr. Rajkumar also spoke on the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative® and the integration of minimal residual disease (MRD) testing into clinical trials.

Dr. Martin presented the latest information on approaches to relapse therapy, an overview of new drugs currently being developed and the role of clinical trials for new drug approvals. Challenges in securing clinical trials in China were discussed at length, including regulatory issues as well as commercial considerations.

Dr. Durie also provided lectures on supportive care, with special attention focused on bone health issues.
Dr. Harousseau led the program in the consideration of transplant issues. He spoke about the role of autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in the frontline setting, the role of allogeneic transplant, and the use of transplant as salvage therapy.

At the close of each session, one of the Chinese doctors was asked in turn to provide a summary of the key points from each lecture and discussion. This was seen to be particularly helpful to ensure that the main points of the day were well conveyed and understood. This also proved to be useful in preparation for the “final examination” given at the end of the course, which all the participants passed with flying colors!

In addition to providing a valuable training opportunity both for the Chinese participants and for the IMF experts and staff, the Master Class provides an invaluable occasion for networking and the development of friendships and professional contacts. The Master Class alumni in China have become a large and growing group with important linkages to the IMF and our myeloma experts. They are becoming leading figures in the myeloma community in China. No doubt that this will lead to improved patient support in the future.

The IMF thanks our partners at Amgen and Celgene and at the Chinese Myeloma Committee for cooperation with this program. We look forward to continuing to provide the Master Class program well into the future.

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