NCI’s Office of Advocacy Relations (OAR) works with the cancer advocacy community, professional societies, and the public to ensure that those who are affected by cancer also inform NCI’s efforts to reduce the burden of cancer.
The Office of Liaison Activities was established in 1996 (renamed the Office of Advocacy Relations in 2007) in order to help strengthen the Institute’s communications and relationships with national advocacy and voluntary organizations who work with research advocates, and scientific and professional societies concerned about cancer. Today we administer a variety of formal and informal programs to ensure that the voices of those who are affected by cancer are included in NCI’s priorities, programs, and policies.
The office disseminates information to individuals and advocacy groups, seeks input and feedback from these organizations, and encourages partnering and collaboration with them. OAR works collaboratively within NCI to serve as a source of expertise concerning the research advocate viewpoint and to involve the advocate community in institute activities. Please visit the For NCI Staff, Get Involved, and Director’s Consumer Liaison Group pages to learn more.
The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Office of Advocacy Relations is NCI’s primary point of contact for the cancer advocacy community. OAR oversees the involvement of advocates in research in order to enhance the scientific process and improve patient outcomes by providing diverse perspectives.
The NCI Office of Advocacy Relations:
- Serves as the Institute’s expert and central resource for advocacy matters.
- Facilitates dynamic relationships and collaborations to promote mutual goals.
- Disseminates information and fosters understanding of key cancer issues and priorities.
NCI understands that the ultimate consumers of cancer research are patients, their families and friends, and the many others affected by the disease.
NCI believes that consumers of cancer research should be involved in NCI’s programs and activities because their diverse perspectives enhance research and will ultimately improve outcomes.
NCI believes that relationships with cancer research consumers should be inclusive, transparent, accountable, and dynamic.
History of the Office of Advocacy Relations (formerly the Office of Liaison Activities)
In 1993, the National Cancer Advisory Board surveyed consumer and voluntary advocacy groups and found strong support for NCI efforts to build relationships with them. Although they indicated overall satisfaction with NCI, groups also recommended that NCI strengthen its relationships and collaborations with them. As part of its efforts to improve communications and interactions, NCI founded the Office of Liaison Activities (OLA) in 1996. The OAR is today the primary point of contact for the cancer advocacy community.
- 1996. Ms. Eleanor O’Donoghue Nealon leads the efforts to establish the Office of Liaison Activities and serves as its first Director. Ms. Nealon worked tirelessly to expand the role of cancer patients in the decision-making process at NCI.
- 1997. Ms. Nealon leads a planning effort to establish the NCI Director’s Consumer Liaison Group (DCLG). Its purpose is to be a new two-way communication channel between the science and the advocacy communities. Ms. Nealon passed away from breast cancer in 1999.
- 1998. Ms. Elaine Lee leads the OLA as its Acting Director and oversees the establishment of the DCLG as a Federal Advisory Committee to the NCI Director. The Institute of Medicine publishes “Scientific Opportunities and Public Needs: Improving Priority Setting and Public Input at the National Institutes of Health.” It cites the OLA as a model for including the public’s viewpoint. Public liaison offices are established in each of the 25 NIH Institutes and Centers and in the Office of the NIH Director.
- 2000. Dr. Yvonne Andejeski, LTC (ret.), becomes the new Office of Liaison Activities (OLA) Director and spearheads efforts to systematically involve advocates in NCI’s daily business. Based on her expertise from the Department of Defense (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), she establishes the NCI Consumer Advocates in Research and Related Activities (CARRA). Dr. Andejeski passed away from breast cancer in October 2001.
- 2001. Ms. Elisabeth Handley, as Acting Director of OLA, guides the development of CARRA, leading the DCLG through a period of transition and restructuring in 2003. She also oversees the development and implementation of the pilot NCI Listens and Learns website.
- 2005, 2006. Ms. Brooke Hamilton serves as Acting Director until the fall of 2006 when Ms. Lenora Johnson becomes Acting Director and continues the work of her predecessors.
- 2007. Ms. Shannon Bell, M.S.W., becomes the new Director of the newly named Office of Advocacy Relations (OAR).
- 2012. Ms. Kelli Marciel, M.A., is OAR’s current Director.