Bios of Research Advocates


  1. Annie Ellis
  2. Susan Leighton
  3. Laurel Pracht

Annie Ellis

Annie EAnnie1llis was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2004 at the age of 40. She has been involved with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance since 2006, including various committees, special projects and presenting with Survivors Teaching Students. In 2008, Annie selected for the Survivor-Researcher Mentor Program at the Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference (co-sponsored by National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society and Lance Armstrong Foundation) where her focus was doctor/patient communication and decision-making in the recurrent setting. Annie spoke about hope at the 2008 annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology as part of SHARE’s Survivor Presentation, and spoke about clinical trials at the 2010 Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Scientific Research Symposium. Annie currently volunteers with SHARE’s Ovarian Cancer Helpline, New York Presbyterian’s Woman to Woman program, and serves as a consumer peer reviewer for the DoD Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

Susan Leighton

Susan Leighton 001Susan L. Leighton works with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance as the National Program Director of the Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives® Program. Mrs. Leighton became a patient and research advocate after her 1997 diagnosis with stage IIIC ovarian cancer and recurrence of the same in early 2005.  As an advocate she is a founding member of the Lilies of the Valley, a large ovarian cancer support and awareness group located in her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama.  She regularly participates as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program and the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute, and as a consumer referee for the Cochrane Collaboration.  Mrs. Leighton is a 2011 graduate of the Research Advocacy Network’s Scholar program and was a participant in the 2012 and 2013 Survivor-Scientist Program of the American Association of Cancer Research.  In 2012 she represented OCNA as one of 20 advocates selected from 130 applicants to attend the Cancer Survivorship Research Program hosted by ACS, CDC, NCI, and LiveStrong and additionally she was selected as a fellow for the Drug Information Association Conference. Her advocacy efforts extend beyond awareness, education, and research to legislation.  Mrs. Leighton is a member of OCNA’s Grasstops program and has brought the voice of the ovarian cancer patient population to Capitol Hill on numerous occasions. In 2011 she testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in support of funding for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program.  She holds an MA in Psychology from Louisiana Tech University, is a veteran, retired personnel management specialist, and a volunteer for several community organizations.

Laurel Pracht

head shotsLaurel J. Pracht is a Patient Advocate with the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) and a member of the Patient Advocate Advisory Board, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) where she helped create a patient friendly nuclear medicine website, She successfully advocated for Medicare coverage of PET scans of many oncologic indications, including ovarian cancer. She is a member of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s Science and Policy Advisory Committee, is the Arizona coordinator for the Survivors Teaching Students-Saving Womens Lives®, an OCNA program, and has been appointed to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Patient Engagement Advisory Panel. PCORI was founded by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She is president of the West Valley Ovarian Cancer Alliance, and directs a yearly charity golf tournament benefitting ovarian cancer research. She is a 13+ year ovarian cancer survivor and holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska.