Read reports from our research advocates

Research Advocacy

Ovarian cancer survivors can shape the future of ovarian cancer research by serving as research advocates. Research advocates help funding agencies and scientists understand and prioritize the questions that are important to the ovarian cancer community. Having the input of survivors ensures that research is patient-focused and truly meets the needs of our community. Research advocates also report back to the community, sharing what they have learned, so that everyone can benefit from scientific progress.

On this page you will find basic information about who can be a research advocate, what opportunities exist, and how you can get involved.

Read reports from our research advocates here!
  • Report from the 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting (Patsy Hinson, Susan Leighton, Regina Parker, Alison Silberman, Cara Tenenbaum and Cheryl Trepagnier)
  • Report from the 2013 American Association of Cancer Researchers (AACR) Meeting (Susan Leighton)
  • Report from the June 2013 Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Advocate (Laurel Pracht)
  • Report from the September 2012 DoD Ovarian Cancer Research Program Consumer Review (Annie Ellis)
  • Report from the March 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (Annie Ellis)
  • In this webinar, the Alliance reports on key research presented at the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting
  • Report from the 2012 Cancer Survivorship Conference (Susan Leighton)
  • Report from the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting
  • Report from the 2013 Gynecologic Oncology Group meeting of the Cancer Prevention and Control Committee (Laurel Pracht)
  • Report from the 2014 American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting
Who are research advocates?

Research advocates are survivors of ovarian cancer just like you. You don’t need to have a background in science to be an advocate and serve on a review panel or advisory board. If you choose to become an advocate, you’ll receive all the training you need. You only need a commitment to advancing ovarian cancer research and a few extra hours per month.

 Meet some of our current advocates…


annie_ellisANNIE ELLIS was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2004 at the age of 40 and first got involved with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance in 2006. Since that time, she’s served on various committees, participated in special projects and presented her story as part of the Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives® program. Annie has been invited to speak at a number of national meetings about her work teaching students and as a research advocate. Annie currently volunteers with SHARE’s Ovarian Cancer Helpline and New York Presbyterian’s Woman to Woman program, and serves as a consumer peer reviewer for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program.


SUSAN LEIGHTON works with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance as the National Program Director of the Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives® Program. Susan holds an MA in Psychology from Louisiana Tech University, is a veteran, a retired personnel management specialist, and a volunteer for several community organizations. In 1997, she was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer and had a recurrence in 2005. Since that time, she has served on numerous panels as a research advocate – including through the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program and the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute. As a patient 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.  Her advocacy efforts extend beyond awareness, education, and research to legislation.  Susan is a member of OCNA’s Advocate Leaders 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.


LAUREL PRACHT is a 13+ year ovarian cancer survivor. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska. Laurel currently serves as 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, where she helped create a patient friendly nuclear medicine website, She has successfully advocated to ensure that Medicare covers PET scans for women with 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 Women’s Lives® program and has been appointed to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Patient Engagement Advisory Panel. She is president of the West Valley Ovarian Cancer Alliance, and directs a yearly charity golf tournament benefitting ovarian cancer research.

Become a research advocate
If you’re interested in becoming a research advocate, please fill out the following application:

After you do so, you’ll:

  • Be connected with a mentor who can answer any questions you might have. Receive information about training programs and scholarships to attend meetings for research advocates. Be sent information about openings for research advocates as they arise.
Where do research advocates serve?

Research advocates typically serve as grant reviewers within the federal agencies that fund ovarian cancer research. These include:

  • The Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) at the Department of Defense
  • The National Cancer Institute
  • The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute
  • The Food and Drug Administration

Advocates also serve in various capacities outside the federal government, including:

  • The Gynecologic Oncology Group, a nonprofit committed to promoting high quality clinical trials.
  • Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at academic medical centers conducing ovarian cancer research

Click here for more information and additional resources.


Interested in Becoming A Research Advocate?  Click Here to apply!