What on earth would inspire us to head to Orlando, Florida during the first week of August? The draw is certainly not the weather (though truth be told the rest of the country has turned into Orlando in August, maybe Orlando will actually be pleasant…). No, the draw is the breast cancer scientific meeting known to best engage and include advocates – the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program’s (BCRP) Era of Hope conference, held August 2-5 in Orlando this year.
The DOD BCRP is a collaboration between the military, scientific, medical, and breast cancer survivor and advocacy communities to develop and carry out research to end breast cancer. It was established as the result of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s 1992 campaign to dramatically increase federal funding specifically targeted to breast cancer research. The BCRP is the only federal research program that involves consumer advocates at all levels of review and planning, including peer review, programmatic review, and conference planning. Advocacy efforts of NBCC members over the years have ensured that the program continues, and over $2.5 billion in research grants have been awarded to date.
The purpose of the Era of Hope is to give a platform for all results from DOD-funded research, whether positive or negative, to be reported to the public. Every two to three years, researchers who receive funds from the Program must present their results at this public meeting. The Era of Hope program is designed by a Technical Planning Committee that includes scientists and consumers.
“This is the meeting where advocates will hold the scientific community accountable and ensure that they know our goal has always been to end breast cancer. We will not celebrate small discoveries at this meeting. Advocates will be collaborating with the scientific community in order to help end breast cancer. The DOD BCRP is the only federally funded program where scientists and advocates collaborate in such a meaningful way,” according to Joy Simha, one of five advocates on the 18-member 2011 Planning Committee.
The 2011 agenda looks full and interesting. This is my first Era of Hope meeting, and I’m looking forward to hearing all of the reports from the scientists, and for the opportunity to challenge and question, and to collaborate on defining the best next steps that will help us meet Breast Cancer Deadline 2020.