Cancer Researchers Recognized at ASCO 2021 Quality Care Symposium

October 6, 2021

Three young investigators at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) have been recognized as 2021 Merit award recipients at this year’s ASCO Quality Care Symposium. Jacob Cogan, MD, postdoctoral clinical fellow at the Department of Medicine, Morgan Lichtenstein, MD, postdoctoral clinical fellow at the Department of Medicine, and Melissa Beauchemin, PhD, who recently started as assistant professor of nursing at the Columbia School of Nursing; were among 27 researchers honored at this year’s event. Presented each year by Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, this distinguished award recognizes oncology fellows and trainees who are first authors on top-ranking abstracts selected for presentation at the 2021 ASCO Quality Care Symposium. The ASCO Quality Care Symposium, held from September 23 – 25, 2021, is itself a comprehensive forum to share the latest strategies and methods for quantification of patient experience, provider efficiency, clinical outcomes, and quality and safety in the cancer care field.


Each of the awardees presented compelling projects at this year’s event, with great potential to push the field of cancer research forward. Dr. Cogan’s abstract highlighted the efficacy of a password-protected pill-dispensing device for curbing misuse of opioids after cancer surgery. Early findings from his team’s research suggests that these inexpensive devices show promise both for reducing opiate misuse and promoting safe disposal of unused drugs. Dr.  Lichtenstein evaluated the process for obtaining oral anti-cancer drugs (OACDs) by looking at the association of clinical and process-related factors with OACD receipt and time to receipt. Her conclusions showed that over 70% of prescriptions involved prior authorization, which was associated with delayed drug receipt, and that the effect of prior authorization differed by insurance type. Dr. Beauchemin also presented work on the OACD acquisition process. Her study assessed the impact of implementing a specialty pharmacy at Columbia New-York Presbyterian on OACD receipt and time to receipt. Her results showed a higher rate of OACD receipt and a trend toward decreased time to receipt after specialty pharmacy implementation.


Through their projects, each awardee honored the spirit of the ASCO Quality Symposium, where clinicians and researchers come together to share and uncover new ways to enhance the experience of cancer patients and improve outcomes. Click here to learn more about this year’s symposium.