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The NCI Technology Research Advocacy Partnership (NTRAP)


The NCI Technology Research Advocacy Partnership (NTRAP) incorporates the perspective of cancer patients and survivors into technology development research programs. NTRAP has contributed to the Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) program since 2016 and the Informatics Technology for Cancer Research (ITCR) program since 2019. Both the IMAT and ITCR grant programs support early stage technology development to impact cancer research. They seek to include cancer patients as a critical end-user as patients and the patient advocate community ultimately benefit from the research conducted.

The purpose of NTRAP’s involvement is to:

  • Improve appreciation for patient needs and interests and motivate the investigators and provide a sense of urgency for their progress,
  • Assist in translation and dissemination efforts for successfully developed technologies by identifying and highlighting promising projects,
  • Aid research groups in explaining the potential for the technology to end-user communities, especially the patient community,
  • Assist in any clinical trial planning efforts, especially as related to understanding patient concerns, sensitivities, and enthusiasm for being a part of new solutions,
  • Improve language used to describe research that includes patients or patient samples (click here to read Sensitivity Expectations of Investigators)

Meet Our Patient Advocacy Team:

Brittany Alvin McKepvey

Brittany Avin McKelvey
Patient Advocate

“I am a patient advocate because I saw the need for researchers to be better informed of patients’ needs, while alternatively the patient community needing to better appreciate the research process. I am passionate about closing the communication gap between scientists and the patient community. I chose to be a part of the NTRAP team because I saw the opportunity to connect with researchers and share the patient perspective to help inform the research process and share research findings.”


Deneen Hesser

Deneen Hesser
Patient Advocate

“A passion for discovery science led me to NCI’s IMAT program—a relatively unknown gem within NCI’s Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives which offers grant support for innovative, creative, and unique scientific thinkers. The presence of the NTRAP team of advocates is a continual magnet honing IMAT funding toward studies with the potential to change the lives of people with cancer. My experience as a cancer patient, cancer widow, and oncology healthcare professional fostered my interest in building bridges between strategic government funding sources, the patient community, and the scientists developing new approaches to both patient and researcher challenges. I am proud to be a part of this dedicated advocacy team and patient-centric NCI program.”


Chuck Schmaderer

Chuck Schmaderer
Patient Advocate

“The intersection of science and technology has never been greater, creating a truly unique opportunity to advance cancer research and treatment as we know it. The interdisciplinary expertise and talent of IMAT and ITCR investigators is tremendous and I'm honored to be part of the NTRAP team helping bring their innovations to life. When you talk about cancer, you're talking about families, and I'm proud to bring the voices of patients and over ten cancer non-profits to the innovative projects under development.”


Laurie Cynkin

Laurie Cynkin
Office of Advocacy Relations, NCI

“Cancer research advocates play an integral part in NCI’s cancer research process. They are looked upon to provide the collective patient perspective and to ask the questions that only a patient, survivor, or caretaker would know to ask. The IMAT and ITCR programs have put their trust in a select team of advocates who serve as a sounding board for program leadership and place a human face alongside the technology and informatics driving cancer research forward. As a member of NCI’s Office of Advocacy Relations, I am gratified to be a part of this team ultimately dedicated to improving outcomes for patients.”


Tony Dickherber

Tony Dickherber
IMAT Program Manager, NCI

“As an engineering student, I fell in love with the field of biotechnology when I saw it through the eyes of patients whose lives were transformed by innovations from this field. All engineers are interested in building things that solve problems and are useful to the people around them, but hearing testimonials from former patients whose lives were transformed by technologies developed by the Medtronic corporation during one of their annual meetings made clear to me that this field was where I wanted to contribute whatever I had to offer. That is why I am so grateful that I can work with NTRAP to ensure that the patient’s voice and perspective is always part of our conversation as we play our part in advancing biotechnology in the fight against cancer.”


Juli Klemm

Juli Klemm
ITCR Program Manager, NCI

“I am honored to join the NTRAP team to have the opportunity to bring the patient perspective to the ITCR program. Communication is a critical component of the cancer research enterprise and I’m excited to foster a dialog between this passionate group of advocates and the talented informatics researchers supported through ITCR toward the goal of maximizing the use of data to improve cancer outcomes. Throughout my career, I’ve seen how bringing together diverse perspectives leads to the most innovative ideas and NTRAP is doing just that for cancer research technology development.” 


Kelly Crotty

Kelly Crotty
Communications Strategist, NCI

“Cancer researchers and patient advocates share a common goal: improving patient care, quality of life, and cancer survivorship. I chose to be a part of the NTRAP team because I want to help educate patients about ongoing research and incorporate the patient perspective in the planning and implementation of cancer research.”


For questions about or for the NTRAP team, please email NTRAP@nih.gov.

For general cancer-related information, call 1-800-4-CANCER or visit www.cancer.gov/contact.