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Breast cancer advocate Joshlyn Earls recently participated in the evaluation of research applications submitted to the Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) sponsored by the Department of Defense. Joshlyn Earls was nominated for participation in the program by Fighting 4 The Tatas Inflammatory Breast Cancer Organization. As a consumer reviewer, she was a full voting member, along with prominent scientists, at meetings to help determine how the $120 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) will be spent on future breast cancer research.
Consumer reviewers are asked to represent the collective view of breast cancer survivors and patients, family members, and persons at risk for the disease when they prepare comments on the impact of the research on issues such as disease prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life after treatment. Commenting on her role as a consumer reviewer, Joshlyn Earls said that "Having the responsibility as a peer reviewer to speak for the entire breast cancer community on the impact of these applications was very scary and exciting all at the same time. I was given the opportunity to work side by side with scientist trying to figure out ways to improve the prognosis and prevent the metastasis of breast cancer the fact that I am a fighter my opinion was highly considered and valued. My high point was when a scientist actually changed a score because of an explanation of mine of the impact the application could have in the breast cancer community. From that point on, I was looked at differently and everyone involved in the consumer review understood that not only was I a breast cancer fighter but I was also a breast cancer advocate. I met so many women and men during my time there. What an awesome experience, I cannot say enough about the program. I enjoyed every minute."
Consumer advocates and scientists have worked together in this unique partnership to evaluate the scientific merit of breast cancer research applications since 1995. To date, more than 780 consumer reviewers have served on breast cancer panels alongside scientists in the review process. Colonel Jeffrey C. Leggit, M.D., Director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, expressed his appreciation for the perspectives of the consumer advocates in the scientific review sessions. "The Consumer Reviewers on each panel are instrumental in helping the scientists understand the patient's perspective and provided valuable insight into the potential impact of the proposed project. They bring with them a sense of urgency and remind all of the human element involved in medical research."
Thousands of breast cancer research applications will be reviewed for 2012 fiscal year funds. Scientists applying propose to conduct innovative breast cancer research aimed at the elimination of breast cancer. The BCRP 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 about the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program is available at the Website: http://cdmrp.army.mil.