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Stakeholder Participation on Grant Peer Review Committees

Background: Since its beginning in 1946, the American Cancer Society's Research and Training Program has funded about $3.5 billion in cancer research and health professional training. As the largest source of non-federal funding of cancer research in the United States the Society funds approximately $107 million in grants annually. This Program has led to primary contributions in cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as support for the research of 44 Nobel Prize Winners before they became Nobel Laureates.

At the core of this highly successful cancer research and training program is the peer review process. Cancer researchers and trainees at biomedical institutions throughout the United States submit approximately 1600 grant applications each year to the American Cancer Society. They compete for funding as new research projects or training grants in a wide variety of scientific research and professional training areas critical to the effort of eliminating cancer as a major human disease. The evaluation of the applications for scientific or training merit, and relevance to cancer control is conducted by approximately 20 Peer Review Committees. Each committee consists of a panel of 5-20 experts whose role it is to identify the most outstanding applications for funding. Once the review and ranking of the applications has been completed by the Peer Review Committees, the most highly rated ones are reviewed by the Council for Extramural Grants. The Council is comprised of leaders from the science community and Stakeholders and the role of the Council is to decide which among the outstanding proposals will receive funding by the American Cancer Society.

Purpose: The purpose of Stakeholder participation on the Research and Training Peer Review Committees is two-fold: To assure input from the Stakeholder perspective in evaluating the cancer relevance of the research and training grant applications  thereby enhancing the peer review process; and to provide an opportunity for Stakeholders to understand how the peer review process contributes to the development of new ideas and breakthroughs in cancer control which ultimately lead to decreases in both new cancer cases and cancer deaths. As a result of their participation, Stakeholders may become knowledgeable advocates for the role of the Research and Training Program in the American Cancer Society's effort to advance cancer control.

Description and Requirements: Stakeholders are defined as individuals with or without formal science or oncology training who have a strong personal interest in advancing the effort to control and prevent cancer through cancer research and the training of health professionals. This interest could stem from an intimate experience with the disease, such as through survivorship, a family cancer experience, or through being a caregiver.

Desirable characteristics in a Stakeholder Include: Meeting the definition of a Stakeholder stated above; willing to embrace the broad perspective of cancer research and training utilized by the ACS in its funding of grants; previous experience with the peer review process and/or a willingness to participate in peer review training; having demonstrated the ability to interact effectively within groups, e.g., a leadership or participatory experience in a managerial, professional, or educational capacity; not being a current employee of the American Cancer Society, nor a volunteer member of the Society's National Board of Directors, ACS National Assembly, or National Research and Medical Affairs Committee.

Stakeholder Time Commitment Requirements: Able to commit to a minimum period of two years of participation at time of selection; able to attend at least one Society-hosted peer review training session lasting 2 days at the American Cancer Society National Home Office in Atlanta, GA; able to participate in Society-hosted Peer Review Committee meetings twice a year in Atlanta, usually in January and June, for a period of 2 days; able to review research and training grant application materials with regard to cancer relevance prior to the time of Peer Review Committee meetings.

Applications for participation: Nominations of individuals for participation in the Stakeholder Program are accepted annually from September through November by the American Cancer Society's Research Department. Those interested in becoming stakeholders in the American Cancer Society peer review process can submit nominations to: Joseph Cotter, Program Coordinator, American Cancer Society, National Home Office, 250 Williams Street, Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30303-1002. Mr. Cotter can be faxed at 404-321-4669 or emailed at joseph.cotter@cancer.org.