The Community Scientist program at the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai is an integral part of our greater Community Advisory Board, co-led by our Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) team. Our Community Scientist program provides a sustainable platform for cancer-related research bidirectionality and community engagement in our four programs of research.
Community Scientist Program
What is a Community Scientist?
Community Scientists are individuals who are interested in research engagement and training to help amplify the voices of the people they represent.
We view the Community Scientist as an advocate of the populations we serve. They are key to increasing education and awareness, building trust, and informing areas of design and ethics. In addition, they increase researchers’ knowledge and awareness of community-identified needs, interests, and priorities.
The purpose of this program is to integrate the community voice into research and develop a sustainable bridge between the individuals we serve and our experts.
Why create a Community Scientist program?
We created this program to address the growing need for our researchers and community members to understand and engage with one another.
By creating pathways for community members to get involved in the research process, we will ensure that:
- Our community is aware of and engaged with research.
- Researchers are aware of community interests and priorities.
- Research projects are responsive to community needs.
We do this with the ultimate goal of achieving equity in cancer outcomes.
What can a Community Scientist do?
There is a wide range of what a Community Scientist can do. Their responsibilities depend on their research interests and desired level of engagement with a project.
Our Community Scientists meet monthly as a workgroup for ongoing support, teamwork, and mentorship, as well as to work on projects and engage with researchers.
Community Scientists can choose to engage with research topics through our training curriculum or partner with an expert on a specific project.
Interested community members are welcome to join our monthly workgroup meetings to learn more about engagement and opportunities for research involvement.
How are Community Scientists trained?
Community Scientists can receive training in various research topics through different programs, including the Citizen Scientist Curriculum developed by the University of Florida and the Community Scientist Institute at The City College of New York. Different levels of training are available and the COE will provide compensation for Community Scientists who complete these curriculums.
Community Scientist Roles in Research
- Individual Research Teams: Community Scientists can work together with an individual researcher or group. The levels of engagement described below allow for flexibility depending on the Community Scientist’s interest.
- Minimal: Research teams seek input from Community Scientists on how information should be communicated. For example, Community Scientists may review grant applications, consent forms and recruitment materials.
- Moderate: Community Scientists have a greater level of collaboration with researchers. They may help to effectively recruit participants for studies, develop community-relevant research questions and hypotheses, or advise on how to share their findings.
- Sustained: Community Scientists work in partnership with researchers. They may be a member of a group and regularly participate in team meetings to discuss the project's progress, successes, and challenges. They may also help present projects or may even represent their team or organization at local, state-wide, or national conferences or meetings. This level of engagement requires significant time and effort on the part of the Community Scientist.
- Protocol Review Monitoring Committee (PRMC): Community Scientists help modify research protocols and incorporate input. They may comment on a study’s recruitment plan, design, and consent language. They can also propose solutions to increase engagement in clinical trials and identify opportunities to bring patient and research communities together.
- Those who are interested in this role can send their CV/resume to Lisa Peralta, PRMC Administrator, at email@example.com.
Getting Started as a Community Scientist
If you are interested in being Community Scientist, please contact Community Outreach and Engagement at MountSinaiCOE@mountsinai.org or 646-991-1575.
We will meet with individuals to discuss their interests, experiences with research and/or patient advocacy, and their desired level of engagement.
Other opportunities for patient advocacy in research:
- IASLC Supportive Training for Advocates on Research & Science (STARS): Supports lung cancer patient advocates on their journey into patient research advocacy.
- National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD: Science training program for patient advocates to engage in the wide range of local and national forums where breast cancer decisions are made.
- Fight Colorectal Cancer’s Research Advocacy Training and Support (RATS): Trains colorectal cancer advocates to become the most educated patient voice at the research table.
- Research Advocacy Network (RAN): A network of advocates and researchers who influence cancer research–from initial concept to patient care delivery—through collaboration, education and mutual support.
- Department of Defense Congressionally Mandated Medical Research Program - Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Consumer Advocates: To successfully promote high-impact research for cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship.
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Research Advocates: Works with all research advocates and organizations to ensure the community’s unique perspectives and ideas are integrated into NCI activities.
- American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Scientist Survivor Program: To build enduring partnerships among the leaders of the scientific, cancer survivor, and patient advocacy communities worldwide.
- Resources and Opportunities for Cancer Research Advocates: Created by the Cornell Community Cancer Partnership, a list of resources, opportunities, training resources, academic articles, and publications for community advocates.