Lending the Patient Voice to Research

In order for health care to be responsive to patients’ needs, patients must have a voice. For example, even before care is being delivered, it is important that researchers studying diseases and conducting clinical trials consider the patient perspective. Over the past several months, three WomenHeart Champions had the opportunity to serve as consumer reviewers of medical research applications, offering their points of view as patients living with heart disease.

This opportunity came about as part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), which is run by the Department of Defense and provides hundreds of research grants focused on various medical conditions, including congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy and women’s heart disease. After a rigorous application process, WomenHeart Champions Joe Ann Burgett, Darlene Scott and Michele Buc were selected to participate.

Serving alongside scientific reviewers, these Champions spent several hours reviewing grant applications and participating in panel discussions to make award determinations. Each brought with them, not only their personal experiences as patients, but their professional experience in academic research and grant-making.

They felt privileged and honored to serve as reviewers as they learned about cutting edge research that could serve to benefit women living with heart disease. “There is some good research happening for women and their heart disease!” said Michele Buc. Joe Ann Burgett added, “As a stalwart advocate for increased inclusion of more women in clinical trials and research, it was a perfect forum to lend my voice.”

WomenHeart will continue to advocate for robust funding for this medical research program and to ensure that women’s heart disease remains an area of study.

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