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Connecting Cancer Researchers with the Local Community

Simple Starting Points

 

Some simple suggestions:

  • Focus on researchers-in-training
    • Doctoral students and postdocs often want to hear about the human side of cancer.
    • During their careers, they will interact with advocates on review panels and their relatives will ask for their advice on cancer-related issues.
    • Engaging with interested non-scientists should be part of their professional development.
  • Recruit for patients/survivors on campus
    • Any large research university will have a number of cancer patients and survivors on staff who are interested in learning more about cancer and in nurturing the next generation of cancer researcher.
    • Welcome family members as well. Their perspective is just as important.
  • Begin with a panel presentation by patients/survivors, targeted to graduate students and junior researchers
    • It’s better to have 5-8 individuals share their stories for a few minutes each as opposed to one speaker sharing a lengthier story. (Students should be exposed to a range of cancers and experiences). 
    • Be sure to include patients with metastatic disease.
    • Students quickly learn that everyone’s cancer experience is unique.
  • Make it a big tent
    • Most universities have academic silos. Invite all trainees involved in cancer research, not just those in a particular school.
  • Tie into existing programs

    • Offer lay language “primers” before presentations by guest lecturers
    • If there is a poster session, involve patients as judges for the “people’s choice” award

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