The Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) respiratory health research advocates Kenneth Benson and John Linnell recently participated in the evaluation of research applications submitted to the PRMRP sponsored by the Department of Defense. Benson and Linnell were nominated for participation in the program by the U.S. COPD Coalition, where they each serve on the Coalition’s board of directors as patient advocates. As consumer reviewers, they were full voting members, along with prominent scientists, at meetings to help determine how the $300 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2017 will be spent on PRMRP research covering 48 topic areas.
Consumer reviewers are asked to represent the collective view of patients and family members 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, Linnell said that, “it was both an honor and a privilege to be a true partner with research doctors and scientists in the search for better understanding, more effective treatment, and someday a cure [for COPD]. The researchers valued my input and took my comments and thoughts seriously. I was considered an equal in the decision-making process.” Valerie Chang, Co-Chair of the U.S. COPD Coalition’s board of directors and past peer reviewer for the program, agreed. “It is important to add the patient’s perspective to the discussions that otherwise would sometimes get bogged down in esoteric points when the bigger picture of whether patients even cared about the research was not given enough consideration without patient input.” Ken Benson notes that the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) was originated by Congress “to foster novel approaches to biomedical research in response to the expressed needs of its stakeholders – the American public, the military, and Congress.”
Colonel Wanda L. Salzer, M.D., Director of the CDMRP, expressed her appreciation for the consumer advocates perspective during the scientific review sessions. “The Consumer Reviewers on each panel are instrumental in helping the scientists understand the patient’s perspective and provide valuable insight into the potential impact of the proposed project. They bring with them a sense of urgency and remind us all, of the human element involved in medical research.”
Scientists applying propose to conduct innovative research focused on the treatment and rehabilitation in the areas of respiratory health, including COPD. The PRMRP 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 Department of Defense Peer Review Medical Research Program is available on PRMRP website.