Ruth Claire Black, Ed.D., J.D., breast cancer survivor and faculty member at Imperial College London, empowers physicians in the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) by developing innovative education programs.
As an advisor to the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute’s NCI-designated Cancer Center, Ruth brings a patient and advocate’s perspective to helping scientists advance new knowledge to cure diseases and inspire hope. She speaks here about her service on the Center’s Community Advisory Board (CAB).
How did you first become involved with the Cancer Center, and what were your early impressions of Sanford Burnham Prebys and its scientists?
Fellow member Helen Eckmann introduced me to the CAB and encouraged me to join. My first impression of the Institute was that it was an institution committed to finding a cure for cancer. As a cancer patient and now cancer survivor, there is nothing more important to me than improving treatment options for cancer patients.
How do CAB members contribute to advancing translational research at the Cancer Center?
We bring the patient and family member perspective to the scientists. We also help to bridge the communication divide between scientists and the often complex work that they do with the community. While many members of the public are interested in the research, all of the science and jargon can be a little intimidating.
What are some life lessons you’ve learned as a cancer survivor? How do you share those lessons with patients who have just received a cancer diagnosis and with scientists who are striving to find cures?
I think patients and survivors need to become passionate and practiced lifelong advocates for better funding of promising research. We also need to support young scientists on the long and difficult path to becoming the researcher that will make the important discovery that helps us to cure cancer.