OCRI Spearheads Outreach Efforts with Head & Neck Cancer Patients, Survivors, and Families

A team from the Oral Cancer Research Initiative (OCRI) is spearheading efforts to communicate with and support head and neck cancer patients, survivors and family members. These efforts are centered on the Greater Boston Head and Neck Cancer Community Advisory Board (CAB). Members of the CAB include head & neck cancer survivors and patients as well as care-givers and members of advocacy groups.

The mission of the CAB is to promote the engagement of patients and caregivers with researchers and healthcare providers in order to accelerate the development of new therapies and techniques for patient care. The Board meets on a quarterly basis with meetings alternating between Boston Medical Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. CAB members advise on projects under consideration for funding/development, the development of research tools for interfacing with patients, dissemination of research findings and involvement of patients and caregivers in research initiatives. The ultimate vision of the Board is to partner with researchers and healthcare providers to boost the relevance, speed and quality of research with a view towards better patient outcomes and experiences. To learn more about the Community Advisory Board, please visit the CAB website.

In addition to hosting quarterly CAB meetings, OCRI members have been actively participating in the head & neck cancer community. Recent outreach events include a Lunch & Learn to mark World Head & Neck Cancer Day as well participation in the Oral Cancer Walk/Run for Awareness.

A team from OCRI is also working with local chapters of the organization Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC). Dr. Ann Marie Egloff, Research Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, and Barbara Pyke, Associate Director for Research, attended a meeting of the SPOHNC Boston chapter on January 17, 2017, along with Dr. Scharukh Jalisi, Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology. They discussed current research and future projects in head and neck cancer, as well as opportunities for community members to become involved with the CAB. A team from OCRI including Dr. Andrew Salama attended a meeting of the SPOHNC North Shore chapter on February 14.

“Engaging with head & neck cancer patients and survivors provides an important outside perspective that ensures that the patient experience is integrated into our research agenda”, said Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Associate Dean for Research at Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine and co-Director of the Greater Boston Head and Neck Cancer Program. “Our outreach efforts have resulted in strong partnerships as well as excellent advice on community relations, patient advocacy, research questions and survivorship issues. We have found these partnerships to be an invaluable resource to help us better communicate our research to the public.”