McMaster University

McMaster University

Ontario Clinical Oncology Group (OCOG)

Who we are?

Ontario Clinical Oncology Group (OCOG) is an academic-based clinical trials development and coordination organization which focuses on cancer. It works with networks of clinician investigators locally, provincially, nationally and abroad to conduct trials which address clinically relevant questions.

There are more than 45 individuals including methodologists, statisticians, clinician researchers and trials staff within OCOG’s Coordinating & Methods Centre located in the Henderson Research Centre of Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). Dr. Mark Levine, a medical oncologist from the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, and Dr. Kathleen Pritchard, a medical oncologist from the Toronto Sunnybrook Cancer Centre are co-directors of OCOG.

OCOG is affiliated with Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), HHS, and the Department of Oncology, McMaster University.


In 1982 OCOG was established by the Ontario Cancer Treatment & Research Foundation (CCO) as a way to develop, coordinate and promote cancer clinical trials throughout Ontario’s regional cancer centres and the Princess Margaret Hospital. The OCOG Coordinating & Methods Centre (CMC) was established in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (CE&B) McMaster University. Dr. Peter McCulloch was the initial OCOG director and Dr. Mark Levine, a medical oncologist and methodologist from the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre, helped found OCOG and soon became its director.

In 1988 the Clinical Trials Methodology Group (CTMG) was established as a program within the Henderson Research Centre and OCOG became part of CTMG. CTMG also conducted trials in venous thrombosis and cardiovascular disease. In 2002, Dr. Mark Levine assumed the role of Director of CTMG and the focus of CTMG became oncology trials. In December 2007, OCOG joined McMaster University’s new Department of Oncology.


OCOG’s overall goal is to conduct research that impacts on and improves patient care.

The specific objectives are to:

  • Determine how new anti-cancer agents and procedures can best be incorporated into clinical practice.
  • Determine the optimal method of employing existing therapies in clinical practice.
  • Determine the most cost-effective therapy between treatments of equal efficacy.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of supportive care interventions.

What we do

OCOG works with investigators to design, conduct, analyze and publish clinical trials. Specific activities include protocol development, preparation and submission of regulatory applications, facilitation and tracking of ethics submission and approval, database design, creation of trial materials to be utilized by clinical sites, management of trial logistics, monitoring of trial progress, collection and verification of clinical data, analyses and publication.  Increasingly, OCOG acts as the “sponsor” for clinical trials, expanding the regulatory and management responsibilities of the personnel working on these trials. OCOG has engaged in trials that have led to registration of new drugs with government regulatory agencies.

OCOG conducts phase I, II, and III trials ranging in size from 20 to several thousand patients through clinical centres world-wide. Currently most of our trials are in cancer but we have maintained an interest in venous thrombosis.


OCOG is appreciative of the support it receives from CCO and HHS. The trials we conduct are supported from several sources including peer-review grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and from the pharmaceutical industry.

The Research

Since 1982, more than 8,000 cancer patients have been entered into OCOG trials for cancers of the breast, brain, head & neck, ovary, prostate, lung, colon, and brain metastases, and pre-malignant conditions for the lung and cervix.

Currently OCOG is conducting trials evaluating: FDG PET imaging in oncology, novel radiation fractionation regimens in women with early stage breast cancer who have undergone lumpectomy and in men with early stage prostate cancer, novel chemotherapy and biologic therapy in lymphoma, approaches to reduce morbidity of lymph edema in women with breast cancer, tumor vaccines in breast cancer, follow-up strategies in breast cancer survivors, and a life style intervention (diet and exercise) in women with early stage breast cancer.

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