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On the Front Lines of Cancer Research

I recently had the opportunity to serve as a consumer reviewer to evaluate research applications submitted to the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) sponsored by the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Military Research Programs. I was nominated by the Colon Cancer Alliance and this is the second time I’ve served in this capacity for the DOD.

As a consumer reviewer, I was a full voting member of the panel along with prominent scientists, at meetings to help determine how the $50 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) will be spent on future colon cancer and other specific cancer research.

Consumer reviewers represent the collective view of individuals living with cancer, family members, and those who may be affected in the future when we prepare comments on the impact and/or military relevance of the research on issues such as prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life after diagnosis.

It’s exciting to get a glimpse at some of the innovative ideas scientists are proposing, and very humbling to know I was the face and voice of patients and others impacted by cancer.

Consumer advocates and scientists have worked together in this unique partnership to evaluate the scientific merit of research applications proposed for these specific cancers since 2009. To date, more than 105 consumer reviewers have served on panels alongside scientists in the review process for the program.

“The Consumer Reviewers on each panel are instrumental in helping the scientists understand the patient’s perspective and provide valuable insight into the potential impact of the proposed project,” says Colonel Wanda L. Salzer, M.D., Director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. “They bring with them a sense of urgency and remind all of the human element involved in medical research.”

Scientists applying propose to conduct innovative cancer research aimed at improving the lives of all individuals living with these cancers and their families. The PRCRP fills important gaps not addressed by other funding agencies by supporting groundbreaking, high-risk, high-gain research while encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.

More information on the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, including how to serve as a consumer reviewer, is available on the CDMRP Web site: cdmrp.army.mil.

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