Prof. rates cancer grants

  The Pentagon was interested in what one nursing professor had to say.   Dr. Judith Cohen was nominated to evaluate research applications submitted to the United States Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program, according to a press release.   Congress gave the Breast Cancer Research Program $150 million for fiscal year 2011 to spend on prospective breast cancer research, University Communications stated.   This review process is unique in that it combines consumer advocates and scientists to better review the value of each research application, according to the UVM website.   “Most research applicant programs don’t have a grant review process, but the Department of Defense does,” Cohen said.   The Breast Cancer Research Program has used this distinctive review process since 1995, University Communications stated.   Cohen said her role was to review and rate 25 grants in order to identify the significance that their research would hold for survivors and their families.   In the past, evaluators met to review the grants in Washington D.C., but this year the review process was done electronically through video conferencing, she said.   “I would like to participate in the process again, but I hope the format changes,” Cohen said.   The director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Lt. Col. Jeffrey C. Leggit, was appreciative of the perspective that the reviewers provided, according to the press release.   “[The reviewers] are instrumental in helping the scientists understand the patient’s perspective…and remind us of the human element involved in medical research,” Leggit said.   As a survivor of breast cancer and a health care provider, Cohen said that she was able to help share her story by participating in the process.   “It was a good piece of closure to feel like I could give back to the community after surviving breast cancer myself.”