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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How did the Love/Avon Army of Women get started?
Like many women and scientists, Dr. Susan Love was becoming increasingly frustrated by our not having made more progress in learning what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it. Fellow scientists told her that they did not know how to find the women who would be interested in taking part in the studies that were needed to end this disease. Dr. Love realized the problem wasn’t that women didn’t want to participate in these studies, but that they didn’t know that they were needed and researchers did not know how to reach them. In short order, the idea was born of an Army of Women ready to serve science.
Why was the Avon Foundation for Women interested in this initiative?
The Avon Foundation for Women is a leader in the breast cancer cause, and is one of the largest private funders of breast cancer research. As a result, they are well aware of how difficult it can be for researchers to find the volunteers they need for their studies. They immediately recognized the need for the Army of Women and partnered with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation to make it happen.
Does the Army of Women differ from a typical tissue bank?
The Army of Women is a “just in time” tissue bank. Rather than collect tissue with the technology of today that may or may not serve for the technology for tomorrow, the Army of Women allows scientists to collect what they need when they need it.
How does the Army of Women work?
Women who are interested register on the Love/Avon Army of Women website, providing first and last name, year of birth, zip code, and ethnicity. Army of Women staff notify volunteers via email about studies that need volunteers. These emails describe the study, the criteria to participate, and detail what is involved. Women who fit the criteria respond to the email to express their interest. The Army of Women staff will coordinate the Army of Women volunteer matching process with either the scientist or one of the Army of Women centers.
How does a researcher apply to the Army of Women for subjects?
Scientists must apply to the Army of Women for the opportunity to recruit volunteers for their research. Every study undergoes a rigorous scientific, safety, and ethical review.
Can for profit companies have access to the Army of Women?
Yes. Army of Women volunteers can be used by researchers in for-profit companies. Their proposals are held to the same high standard as any other researcher submitting a proposal. These proposals will undergo a more extensive review before being approved.
How can a researcher use the Army of Women for an existing funded study?
Researchers can use the Army of Women to recruit women for an existing funded study. If the study already has been peer reviewed by an independent body, the researcher must complete a research project application, which will be reviewed by the Army of Women Scientific Advisory Committee. If the research project is approved, a web page will be developed for the study; IRB and consent forms will be reviewed or developed; and, if necessary, an Army of Women Center (see below) chosen for sample collection. Once this process has been completed, an e-blast describing the study and eligibility criteria will be sent to all Army volunteers. Women will self-select and express their interest by responding to this email. After a secondary screen through the website based on eligibility criteria, a list of interested volunteers will be sent to researchers who are collecting their own samples. If the researcher is not collecting his or her own samples, the list of interested volunteers will be sent to the Army of Women Center that will be collecting the samples.
How can a researcher use the Army of Women in the grant proposal while applying for funding?
The researcher can apply to the Army of Women when writing a grant for funding. If the study appears appropriate to Army of Women staff, a letter of support, project budget, and Army of Women materials will be sent for inclusion in the proposal. If the proposal is funded, the researcher will submit a secondary application through the Army of Women website. At that point, the Army of Women Scientific Advisory Committee will review the research project. It will be accepted or rejected based on the capabilities of the Army of Women at that time.
What might a study require?
A study could ask for information through an online questionnaire or samples of blood, urine, saliva, breast fluid, breast tissue or other biological samples. Some studies might be clinical trials testing a new detection marker or means of preventing breast cancer. Women will self-select the studies that interest them and for which they are eligible.
If I can collect tissue samples myself, can I just use the Army of Women for recruitment?
Yes. If you have the ability to conduct sample collection, you may use the Army of Women as just a recruitment tool for your study. You still must apply to the Army of Women to recruit.
How will I know that the Army of Women represents the population I need?
The Army of Women is open to women of all ages, ethnicities and breast cancer risk. When women sign up for the Army of Women, they indicate their year of birth, zip code, and ethnicity. This allows us to provide researchers with an overall picture of the population available for recruitment.
What are the responsibilities of the researcher?
The Army of Women is a true partnership between women and scientists. All scientists working with the Army of Women volunteers must provide a webcast or blog, and photo or video, for our Town Hall that explains the rationale of their research. After the study is completed, these researchers must provide a second webcast or blog that outlines their findings.
How much will it cost to access the Army of Women?
The fee scientists will be charged to use the Army of Women reflects the cost of recruitment and sample collection for their research project. Please contact email@example.com for the breakdown of fees involved.
How is the privacy of the volunteers maintained?
All researchers who recruit from the Army of Women agree to follow the strict confidentiality guidelines enforced nationwide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Will the Army of Women maintain confidentiality regarding my protocol and associated information?
Yes, the Army of Women will maintain confidentiality regarding any shared information.
Does the Army of Women give out research grants?
At this time, the Army of Women is not a funding source. Grants and funding must be solicited from other sources.