Who is an advocate reviewer?

For CPRIT, a patient advocate is a trained individual who meets the qualifications set by the Institute and appointed to a Scientific Research and Prevention Programs Committee to specifically represent the interests of cancer patients as part of the peer review of grant applications assigned to the advocate’s committee.

What are the qualifications set by CPRIT to be an advocate reviewer?

To be eligible for consideration as an advocate reviewer, the applicant must:

  1. Represent an organization or other community of people;
  2. Demonstrate prior community involvement or other work on behalf of cancer patients;
  3. Possess good communication and writing skills, including the ability to analyze information and make judgments with consideration of patient impact;
  4. Express interest in and fundamental knowledge of the medical research process, including basic and translational scientific research and prevention concepts;
  5. Reside outside of the state of Texas;
  6. Have science-based training. This training requirement shall be considered fulfilled if the Patient Advocate has:
    1. Attended a science-based training program from the American Association for Cancer Research Survivor-Scientist Program, American Society of Clinical Oncology Research Review Sessions for Patient Advocates, Research Advocacy Network Advocate Institute or National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD no more than three years prior to appointment to the Institute’s Scientific Research and Prevention Programs Committee; or
    2. Participated in at least one full cycle of grant review conducted by the Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Federal Drug Administration or Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute no more than three years prior to appointment to the Institute’s Scientific Research and Prevention Programs Committee.

Why does CPRIT include advocate reviewers on its peer review panels?

Advocate reviewers keep the needs of the patient and the community at the forefront of expert reviewers’ discussions and they are reminded of the human dimension of the disease. Their participation results in increased awareness of the importance of prevention and research and a stronger relationship between the scientific, public health and advocate communities.

In which review panels do advocate reviewers participate?

Advocate reviewers participate in the Prevention, Research, and Product Development panels along with scientific and public health reviewers and have a role in scoring applications.

If an advocate reviewer has a particular scientific expertise in cancer, will this individual be assigned to a panel that complements his or her training and experience?

Advocate reviewers serve as lay representatives. They are selected on the basis of their consumer advocacy and survivorship experience. Therefore, advocate reviewers with scientific and technical expertise may be assigned to a panel that is unrelated to their expertise.

Do advocate reviewers have an opportunity to improve the review process?

CPRIT is committed to enhancing and improving the process of peer review and advocate participation. After every peer review meeting, panel members debrief on their experience and provide feedback on what would make the process and the experience better. Comments may also be solicited from reviewers in the form of a post-meeting online evaluation form.

How are advocate reviewers selected to participate in peer review?

There must be at least one patient advocate appointed to each peer review panel. Each program, Prevention, Research, and Product Development, will determine the number of advocate reviewers needed based on the volume of applications for each review cycle. The CPRIT CEO, with approval by simple majority of the Oversight Committee, is responsible for appointing all review panel members for each program.

What orientation is provided to advocate reviewers?

Orientation materials are provided for all reviewers and include an overview of the peer review process, policies, procedures, and guidelines. Prior to the panel meeting, advocate reviewers may participate in a brief orientation session that is available for all reviewers (may be a webinar or phone conference) where the program and peer review processes are discussed.

Does CPRIT require advocate reviewers to receive training?

To be eligible to review for CPRIT, an advocate reviewer must have completed one of the science-based training programs identified by CPRIT or this training requirement can be fulfilled if the advocate reviewer has participated in a least one full cycle of grant review conducted by CPRIT, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs(CDMRP), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) or Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) no more than three years prior to appointment to CPRIT’s Scientific Research and Prevention Programs Committee.

Training programs identified by CPRIT as meeting the requirement for eligibility include:

  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Survivor<->Scientist Program
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Research Review Sessions for Patient Advocates
  • Research Advocacy Network (RAN) Advocate Institute
  • National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Project LEAD

If I do not currently meet the eligibility criteria, where can I go to obtain training?

The following links will direct you to information on the training programs identified by CPRIT as meeting the requirement for eligibility. Some of these organizations offer scholarships to attend the trainings.

What technical support is provided to advocate reviewers while reviewing applications?

Before the peer review meeting, advocate reviewers are encouraged to call the SRA staff person assigned to their panel. SRA is the company that CPRIT contracts with for peer review and grants management support. SRA staff have a broad range of scientific, administrative and technical skills to support the review process.

How much time is involved in preparing for and attending the peer review meeting?

Application review time will vary among Prevention, Research and Product Development programs and by individual reviewers. In general, each reviewer will be assigned 8-12 applications that must be reviewed prior to the panel review meeting; this step could take 1-2 hours per application including preparing written comments. The peer review meetings generally last 1.5 to 2 days.

How much travel is involved?

Peer review meetings may be held by teleconference or in person. The Prevention program will often conduct one review cycle per year by teleconference and one review cycle in person. Research and Product Development reviews are typically conducted in person. In person meetings are generally 1.5 to 2 days but could require travel of up to 3 days. Advocate reviewers are expected to travel to and participate in the entire meeting.

Where are the peer review panel meetings held?

Peer review panels may meet in Dallas, Houston or Austin, Texas. Meetings may also occur via teleconference.

Are advocate reviewers and other panel members compensated for the time spent preparing for and attending the peer review meeting?

Panel members are eligible to receive a standard honorarium that covers their time spent preparing for and attending the meeting. In addition, panel members also receive reimbursement for expenses related to travel and hotel accommodations during the course of the meeting.

Are the advocate reviewer comments taken into consideration during the funding discussions?

Yes, as a member of the review panel, comments provided by advocate reviewers are considered alongside other expert reviewer comments. Additionally, advocates score each application.

What are the review criteria that advocate reviewers use to evaluate an application?

Review criteria are published for each award mechanism in the Request for Application (RFA). The one key criterion that advocate reviewers are required to critique is "Significance and Impact" but they may critique others as well if they feel confident in doing so. In their application for funding, applicants are required to describe the potential impact of the proposed research or prevention program for those at risk for or affected by cancer. Guidelines for describing significance and impact will appear in each RFA and may vary for different award mechanisms so reviewers should carefully read the RFA to become familiar with what was expected from the applicant and what is expected of the reviewers.

What are some of the resources that advocate reviewers can consult while reading and reviewing research applications?

In addition to science-based training required by CPRIT, advocate reviewers can consult the following list of websites to assist with understanding scientific applications: