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An Advocate’s Perspective on Peer Review

As Komen is now in the middle of our 2014 Application and Review cycle for new Research grants, we wanted to take a moment to highlight one of our Advocate reviewers, and her impressions of taking part in Peer Review meetings back in February of 2013 that helped to decide our new 2013 Research Grant slate.

Guest post by Komen Advocates in Science Member Mildred (Millie) Garcia.

I have served as an advocate and scientific reviewer for Komen in many areas of health disparities, including Career Catalyst, Investigator Initiated Research, and Post Doctoral Fellows Programs. I have been active with the Komen Advocates in Science (KAIS), serving on the selection committee for initial members, as mentor to new members, and on the KAIS Communications Working Group.

My efforts as an advocate focusing on health and education have allowed me to participate in many interesting and exciting activities, including the opportunity to serve as an advocate reviewer on the 2012-2013 Investigator Initiated Research Grants – Disparities in Breast Cancer Outcomes: Outcomes of Specific Populations after Diagnosis.

The experience of reviewing both Pre-Application and Full Applications was amazing. The Komen staff members were helpful throughout the entire process, from the message asking for volunteers through advice on evaluation criteria. I was given the opportunity to address many areas of the application including, but not limited to, the Research Question and Significance, Merit, and Feasibility of the project. I read through the entire proposal in order to be prepared for that discussion.

The goals of Komen’s Investigator Initiated Research Grants are to stimulate exploration of new ideas and novel approaches that have significant potential to lead to reductions in breast cancer incidence and/or mortality within the decade. The scoring ranges utilized in the review meeting were described fully, allowing me to feel confident about my scoring decisions.

As an Advocate reviewer, I was in awe when I met the other members of the committee at the face-to-face review meeting. Although I had read every proposal, responded to every call, I still felt intimidated by their amazing qualifications. Even the other advocate reviewer was a physician! They included:
• Chair, Professor, Department of Medicine and Director, Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics
• Director of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, and a Patients and Survivors Program
• Chair of Pathology
• Surgical oncologist who is part of a Cancer Care Alliance
• Leader of a Cancer Disparities Program and Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
• Biostatisticians
• Medical oncologists

These eminent reviewers eased my fears by being welcoming and supportive. The best part of it was that this distinguished panel was receptive to my comments, and as a result, I felt I was a valuable member of the committee as we worked to ensure the most meritorious grants would receive funding approval.

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Susan G. Komen has written 299 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.