Dr Faridani is interested in developing single-cell transcriptomic technologies to characterise circulating tumour cells (CTCs). CTCs are diverse cells in the form of single cells or cell clusters that are released by solid tumours into the circulation (blood circulation and lymphatic system).
How long have you had consumer reps involved with your cancer research?
What is the most positive outcome for you of having a consumer rep work with you on your research?
Focusing on real-life problems in cancer research was the most favourable outcome. It is easy for researchers to get deep into a research question that is less relevant for cancer patients. However, working with our consumer, Mr Phil Mendoza-Jones, helped us keep on the right track and modify our new projects to benefit patients directly. In particular, Phil convinced us that our new liquid biopsy technology will be very beneficial for treatment of most patients with solid cancer.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced working with a consumer rep?
Phil is an experienced consumer, and working with him has been effortless. Although it was my first time communicating with a knowledgeable non-expert consumer, I found our discussions extremely easy and very productive.
How has the consumer rep been able to help you with your project?
Phil made sure that our research targets real cancer problems, mostly when we were unsure how valuable a new project is for patients. Translating our scientific language into lay terms is a constant help we get from his involvement. He is always motivating my lab members, making sure the young researchers understand their research impact. This was extremely helpful, and I could see everyone is encouraged after a discussion with Phil. Beyond helping our project, he tries to support us with fundraising and elaborate awareness about our research’s impact. More importantly, with his help, we received a grant from Cancer Council NSW, without which my young group of scientists could not have progressed in our promising liquid biopsy research.
What do you know now that you would like to have known at the beginning of your involvement with consumers?
The significant impact of consumer involvement on my research! If I knew it before, I would start looking for a consumer earlier.
If you could say one thing to a new researcher about working with consumers, what would it be?
Communicate with your consumer frequently to update them and share your concerns. Their feedback can change the course of your research!
If you could say one thing to a new consumer representative, what would it be?
Investigate the research that you are involved in and discuss it with other experienced consumers. It makes it easier to communicate with researchers.
A final word ……
Doing cancer research in many countries, I never saw the involvement of patients or patient’s relatives in research which I guess is somehow unique to Australia. This is a wonderful arrangement for Australian cancer research and can help scientists solve significant clinical problems that directly impact cancer patients.