Community Scientists

The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement have launched a Community Scientist program that enables scientists and members of the public to work together on making advancements in cancer research. Through seven weeks of video modules, the program teaches community members without scientific backgrounds about the cancer research process, covering topics such as research ethics and design, cultural competency and bioinformatics.

Participants become Community Scientists upon completion of the program. They may choose to serve as active members of either the Rutgers Cancer Institute Scientific Review Board or Institutional Review Board, where they review proposals, promotional material and consent forms and ensure that research publications are written in a community-friendly format.

Several members of the Jazz4PCA team have completed the certification program and are participating in the medical research process by working on projects that deal with disparities in healthcare access, cancer research and clinical trials focusing on historically underrepresented communities.

To learn more about the Community Scientist program, please contact [email protected].

The mission of the Community Scientist program is to foster trusting relationships between community members and medical researchers to reduce health disparities and promote health outcomes in all of our communities, especially our most vulnerable.

This is to be accomplished through a variety of activities that include the following: 

  • Analysis of research study designs
  • Community education/Training
  • Grant reviews
  • Highlighting patient and survivor needs
  • Improving clinical trial recruitment
  • Legislative Advocacy
  • Sharing results of studies with communities

Key Elements

  • Value proposition & assistance to the most vulnerable patients:
  • Provide access to care for those that are uninsured with clinical trials
  • Importance of credible data collection methods – remembering the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks
  • Bi-directional relationship between community & research team
  • Address cancer survivorship & cancer disparities
  • Aspect of legislative advocacy
  • Improving clinical trial recruitment