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Meet the Research Advocates

Research advocates at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center support our research efforts in many ways and for many reasons. Our advocates are cancer survivors, caregivers, and community members who are committed to making a difference. 

Patty Lee

patty lee

As a breast cancer survivor since 1999, Patty has shared her experiences and knowledge in a variety of venues, both professionally and personally. She received a M.L.S. degree from the University of Texas, and has been a medical librarian for over 25 years working closely with the cancer research community. Patty joined the VICC Breast SPORE in 2005 as a research advocate, participates in the SPORE research and advocate meetings, and facilitated advocate training on accessing scientific online resources. She also serves on the Breast Cancer Tumor Board, is a patient advocate on the VICC Cancer committee, and has been accepted as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research program.


Number of years as a cancer survivor: 17 years

How many years have you been a VICC research advocate?  Since 2005

Why did you become a VICC research advocate?

I wanted to communicate directly with clinical investigators about the priorities and needs of cancer patients. The outcomes and unintended consequences of cancer impact the physical health, emotional and psychological health as well as financial well-being of individuals and families. Cancer survivors integrated into the clinical research environment can provide an important perspective, keeping the patient’s voice prominent in decisions about treatment and diagnosis in addition to bring attention to the problems of survivors and their families.

List any ways you are involved in national organizations, if any. (Ex: grant reviewer for DoD, national advocacy, etc.)

  • Consumer Reviewer for DoD CDMRP Breast Cancer
  • 2014 DoD Molecular Biology & Genetics (MBG) panel
  • 2012 DoD  Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics Panel
  • DoD 2008 Breast Cancer Innovation Awards
  • DoD 2010 Era of Hope Postdoctoral Awards
  • 2008 DoD Breast Cancer Innovation Awards
  • Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium Member 2008+
  • Triple Negative Working Group and Patient Advocate Working Group
  • Member -  American Association for Cancer Research 2008 +

List any presentations or poster sessions you have been involved in at scientific conferences.

  • “Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeopardy” American Association for Cancer Research 2010 Poster Abstract #972
  • Poster Presentation: Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeopardy.  AACE-CPEN-EACE Joint Meeting International Cancer Education Conference October 2010
  • SU2C Targeting the PI3K Pathway in Women’s Cancers – VICC Advocate representative 2009-2011

Do you serve on any committees, advisory boards, etc. at VICC or VUMC?

  • VICC Cancer Committee
  • VICC External Advisory Board
  • VICC Breast Cancer Program/Breast SPORE
  • Past member of VICC Scientific Review Committee and Quality Council

Do you have any relevant advocate trainings or certifications (Ex: Project LEAD)?

  • AACR Scientist Survivor Program Scholarship and Certificate 2010