Origins as the Midwest Multicenter Pancreatic Study Group (MMPSG)
The Collaborative Alliance for Pancreatic Education and Research (CAPER) originally began in 1994 as the Midwest Multicenter Pancreatic Study Group (MMPSG). The MMPSG was formed to facilitate large, prospective, multicenter trials that would positively impact the clinical management of patients with pancreatic disorders. Initial members included David C. Whitcomb, M.D., Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, Charles D. Ulrich II, MD and Stephen P. Martin, MD at the University of Cincinnati, and Lawrence K. Gates, MD at the University of Kentucky. This collaboration developed due to their common interest in clinical and basic pancreatic research, the close proximity of their institutions, and the relationships that had developed at Duke University, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Pittsburgh.
The initial success of the MMPSG involved a multi-center study that led to the discovery that mutations in the cationic trypsinogen gene (PRSS1) result in hereditary pancreatitis and pointed to the central role of trypsin in acute pancreatitis (Whitcomb et al, Nature Genetics1996;14:141-5). Since then, the group has published dozens of important papers related to pancreatic diseases. Another early success of MMPSG was the development of the International Symposium on Inherited Diseases of the Pancreas series. This program has made major impacts on educating the medical and scientific community on advances in the genetics of pancreatic diseases.
Reorganization and establishment of CAPER
By 2004 Dr Whitcomb was the only original member of the MMPSG that was still doing pancreas research in an academic setting. The primary multicenter study of the group at that time was the NIDDK funded North American Pancreatitis Study 2 (NAPS2), which held annual investigator meetings linked to national meetings. The PancreasFest program was developed to host several of these linked meetings at the same venue in July, and called for the development of a new organization, which ultimately became CAPER. In addition to the previous goals of MMPSG, there was a major commitment to the education and development of young investigators. The annual meeting continues to be linked to Pancreas Fest (www.pancreasfest.org ), which is hosted during the last Thursday-Saturday of July each year in Pittsburgh, PA.
The Future of CAPER
The advancement of the informal MMPSG to the non-profit organization CAPER (through the very generous legal professional support of Cordy Glenn and Thomas Birsic and the hard work of the new officers) is highly significant because it allows many of the major needs of the academic and scientific community to be met in professional, legal and ethical ways. The primary multicenter study currently coordinated through CAPER is the Acute Pancreatitis Patient Registry to Examine Novel Therapies in Clinical Experience (APPRENTICE) (Papachristou et al., Ann Gastroenterol 2017;30:106-113). This prospective international study has established a platform for comprehensive assessment of biomarkers and therapeutic agents in acute pancreatitis, and is anticipated to lead to major clinical breakthroughs during the next few years. Originating from the MMPSG, CAPER has the history, experience, and direction which are critical to moving the medical field of pancreas forward.
Acknowledgement: This contribution (2017) was adapted from an original article by David C. Whitcomb (2010).