This year, as last year (technically last January), I went to Washington DC to serve as a consumer reviewer for the autism research program. I was thankfully less tired this year than I was last year, and the trip was less rife with difficulties. There was even a smaller workload this time around, which was a kindness since most of the work happened in October (a busy month for me).
I was pleased to be called on to serve again, and was pleasantly surprised to see many of the same faces for other consumer reviewers and scientists. Shockingly, some of them remembered me too. They even remembered me positively, which is good because I don't remember being terribly positive at the time. Mostly I remember being grumpy and overwhelmed and tired.
Anyway, there was less socialization this year, which was too bad, but I did still get to chat with a few scientists and handed out a few cards. I have this bad habit of educating people I rub elbows with, but considering the guy running the panel told me he thought I was MVP reviewer, I suppose I must be doing okay.
Here's the official press release:
SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW OF THE AUTISM RESEARCH PROGRAM FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
The Peer Reviewed Autism Research Program (ARP) consumer advocate Sarah Frisch recently participated in the evaluation of research applications submitted to the ARP sponsored by the Department of Defense. Sarah was nominated for participation in the program by Autism Support of Kent County in Grand Rapids, MI. As a consumer reviewer, she was a full voting member, (along with prominent scientists) at meetings to help determine how the $7.5 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2018 will be spent on ARP.
Consumer reviewers are asked to represent the collective view of patients by preparing comments on the impact of the research on issues such as diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life. When commenting on serving as a consumer reviewer, Sarah said, “It’s challenging to represent so many different people, from teachers to parents to autistic children and adults of all kinds, but rewarding to know our viewpoints matter and are taken into account. It's also great to meet so many people that share my passion for bettering all of our lives.”
Consumer advocates and scientists have worked together in this unique partnership to evaluate the scientific merit of research applications since FY07. Colonel Stephen J. Dalal, Director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, expressed his appreciation for the consumer advocate’s perspective during the scientific review sessions. “Consumer advocates are an integral part of the CDMRP’s scientific review process. They provide a key ingredient to the review process, the patient’s perspective, which is real and urgent. The collaboration of Consumer advocates alongside the scientists’ subject matter expertise is a truly unique collaboration that is difficult to find in most medical research programs.”
Scientists applying propose to conduct innovative research focusing on improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The ARP fills important gaps not addressed by other funding agencies by supporting groundbreaking, high-risk, high-gain research while encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.
More information about the DOD’s ARP is available at the website: http://cdmrp.army.mil/arp/default
Erin Bolling, Public Affairs, 301-619-7783