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the BCT Team

BreastCancerTrials.org (BCT) is a program of QuantumLeap Healthcare Collaborative


Executive Steering Committee

Sue Dubman, MA
Ms. Dubman is currently a Senior Director at Genzyme, a leading biotechnology company, where she is spearheading implementation of data standards to support global data interchange and reusability. Prior to Genzyme, she was VP/CIO of Theravance, Inc. and, before that, Director of Biomedical Applications at the NCI Center for Bioinformatics. While at NCI, Ms. Dubman led the effort to develop a clinical trial matching service that resulted in BreastCancerTrials.org.

Considered a thought leader in healthcare informatics, Ms. Dubman has been involved in the development of a translational research platform at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a national biomarker consortium, an innovative adaptive design to accelerate new treatments to market, a standards-based rare disease registry, and a “first-of-kind” statistical computing environment. She sits on the Boards of CDISC, BRIDG, and QuantumLeap Healthcare Collaborative. A frequently invited speaker, Ms. Dubman and her teams have won several national and international awards.

In addition to BCT, Ms. Dubman is a key advisor to other breast cancer programs such as the I-SPY2 clinical trial and the Athena Breast Health Network. She also shares her expertise with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Parkinson’s Action Network, the Michael J Fox Foundation and the Veteran’s Administration “Million Vets Program”.

Laura Esserman, MD, MBA
Dr. Esserman is Director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, a position she has held since 1996. She is a professor of both Surgery and Radiology at UCSF and co-leads the Breast Oncology Program, the largest of the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center's multidisciplinary programs. She is also Associate Director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center where she founded and leads the program in Translational Informatics. As part of this program, her research has focused on bioinformatics, medical and clinical informatics, systems integration, and clinical care delivery. Her overall vision is to develop state-of-the-art ways to care for and empower patients during their treatment.

Dr. Esserman has received many honors for her work including a grant to establish a state-of-the-art breast center and breast cancer research foundation--one of three major Department of Defense grants awarded to in the United States in 1998. She is a leader in the I-SPY TRIAL collaboration, a National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Center for Bioinformatics and SPORE program. In Dr. Esserman's, groundbreaking initiative ATHENA, doctors and researchers from five UC medical centers are collaborating on the care of 150,000 women to understand why some develop breast cancer and to find more effective ways to customize prevention and treatment.

Michael Hogarth, MD
Dr. Hogarth joined the UC Davis School of Medicine faculty in 1997, where is currently a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Department of Internal Medicine.

A recognized expert in the field of medical informatics, Dr. Hogarth has guided the development of BCT technology since its beginnings as a research pilot. He is also technology leader for a number of large-scale informatics projects including NCI's Translational Informatics System (TRANSCEND), the University of California ATHENA Breast Health Network and the California Electronic Death  Registration System, one of the largest and most successful electronic death registration systems in the U.S.

As a UC Davis faculty, Dr. Hogarth teaches a number of courses including public health informatics and clinical system design and has teaching appointments in the UC Davis Health Informatics Master's program, the UC Davis Public Health program, and the UC Davis School of Medicine.  He is also a member of the UC Davis Computer Science Graduate Group.

In addition to his academic career, Dr. Hogarth has had positions in technology companies such as Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Oracle Corporation, among others.


Program Team

Elly Cohen, PhD — Co-founder and Senior Advisor
Elly Cohen has been the Program Director of BreastCancerTrials.org from its beginning as a UCSF-NCI research pilot through to its current status as a highly regarded nationwide, non-profit service. Under her leadership, BCT has grown to include over 500 trials and actively works with other organizations who seek to promote patient awareness of clinical trials as a routine option for care. Elly is an Assistant Professor in the UCSF Dept. of Surgery and a Senior Analyst with the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. She is engaged in research to reduce barriers to clinical trials among underserved populations and is frequently invited to speak about clinical trials to diverse audiences. Elly has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and is a breast cancer survivor.

Susan Colen, BS — Program Manager
Susan manages the operations of BCT, including curating and coding trials and providing support to patients, providers, navigators and researchers. Before joining the BCT Team in 2009, Susan provided project management, research and writing support to firms such as NAS Healthcare Consulting, Population Research Systems, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, and UCSF. She also owned a graphic design and production business serving non-profit and arts organizations. She has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and has completed training in UC Berkeley Extension's Clinical Research Conduct and Management program.

Deborah Hamolsky, RN, MS, AOCNS — Clinical Advisor
Debby Hamolsky develops clinical programs at the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, provides direct clinical care, coordinates the survivorship program and gives educational and emotional support to women with breast cancer and other breast health concerns. She has also worked as an inpatient oncology staff nurse, a homecare case manager, a research assistant for breast cancer nursing studies, and an oncology and AIDS clinical nurse specialist. She is deeply committed to community based work and advocacy, and has also taught special education in the inner city, provided substance abuse counseling, worked with adolescents in the juvenile justice system, and administrated a community-based clinic.

Debby lectures locally and nationally on breast cancer and breast health, cultural competency in patient care, sexuality, chemotherapy, and cancer emergencies, grief, bereavement, and pain management. She trains Bay Area community organization volunteers to work effectively with people with cancer. She received the Jeanne M. Yalon Award for excellence in oncology nursing at UCSF. A chapter she wrote on oncology nursing appears in "Everyone's Guide to Cancer Treatment," and an oncology nursing textbook includes chapters she wrote on breast cancer.

Debby has a BS in Elementary/Special Education from Case Western, a BS in Nursing from the University of Arizona, and Masters in Nursing, with a specialty in oncology, from UCSF.

Sue Rochman, MA — Medical Writer
Sue Rochman is an award-winning freelance health and medical writer. She is the medical editor for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation's breast cancer website and a contributing writer for Cancer Today, the consumer publication published by the American Association for Cancer Research. Her work has also appeared in SELF, the Los Angeles Times, and The Advocate.


Patient Advisors

Susie Brain, BSc
Susie is a breast cancer survivor and dedicated patient advocate. Over the past 10 years she has worked with both local and national advocacy organizations and serves on several research and survivorship committees involving government, academic, and non-profit organizations. She is an informed and well-trained research advocate having attended the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s cancer science training program Project LEAD Institute, and their advanced courses: Clinical Trials Project LEAD and Quality Care Project LEAD. She has served as a Consumer Grant Reviewer for the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program, as a Komen Advocate in Science reviewing grants for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and as an Advocate Observer for the California Breast Cancer Research Program. She has been an advocate with the UCSF Breast Science Advocacy Core (formally SPORE) since 2009. She currently serves as an advocate on the Biomarkers Working Group for the I-SPY 2 Clinical Trial; an advocate on the Consumer and Community Advisory Committee of the ATHENA Breast Health Network, a collaboration of the five University of California Medical Centers; and as an advocate stakeholder on the PCORI-funded WISDOM Study. At the Stanford Cancer Institute, Susie is a patient advocate/community member on the Scientific Review Committee, which reviews all new cancer-related clinical trials proposing involvement of cancer patients at Stanford; she is also a member of the Clinical Trials Advisory Committee. Susie has participated in several breast cancer-related observational trials and regards it as a key component of her research advocacy work that she understands current clinical trial issues and research trends that impact patients and their families. As an American Cancer Society Reach-to-Recovery peer mentor volunteer, Susie provides direct support, resources and hope to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. She is also able to share patient perspectives and quality of life concerns with scientists applying for research funding and who are planning clinical trials. Susie is interested in cancer prevention, effective and less harmful treatment options, and environmental risk factors and their potential impact on disparities in breast cancer. Susie received a B.Sc. in Biology and a post-graduate teaching credential from the University of Wales, Swansea, Great Britain.

Elizabeth Frank, EdM
Liz Frank is an 11 year breast cancer survivor. Liz works part time at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where she leads the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Breast Cancer Patient Advocacy Group, a group of about 16 patient advocates who focus on research. In this capacity she coordinates and organizes the group, and develops opportunities for members to collaborate with translational and clinical researchers. Liz is one of two patient advocates on the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee. She is also a patient advocate for the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), serves on the External Advisory Board for The Komen Normal Tissue Bank and is a member of the DSMB for the ISPY-2 Trial. Liz is a member of the Multi-Regional Clinical Trial Working Group on Returning Results and has also collaborated on return of results efforts for a single academic cancer center and a national clinical trials group. Liz is particularly interested in increasing the effectiveness of patient advocates, issues related to educating and consenting of patients on clinical trials and the return of clinical trial results. She attended the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD Science Course in 2006, the Clinical Trials LEAD in November 2008 and Quality LEAD in 2009. Liz received her B.A. from Boston University in economics and a Masters degree from the Harvard School of Education in education research and program evaluation.

Jane Perlmutter, PhD, MBA
Jane Perlmutter is an over thirty-year cancer survivor; since her diagnosis in 1985 she has been involved in a wide-range of advocacy activities. While her advocacy is largely rooted in her own experiences, it is informed by her formal training in cognitive psychology and experimental methods, and her career which included many years in academia, not-for-profit R&D, corporate senior management and independent consulting. Much of Jane’s advocacy has focused on clinical trials--ensuring that the patient voice is considered in selection of research questions, design of trial protocols that are sensitive to patient issues, and encouraging innovation to increase the speed of developing new treatments. For example, she serves as an advocate on the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee, Alliance Cancer Cooperative Group (previously CALGB), and Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC). She has also been on the Steering Committees and lead advocate in the innovative I-SPY 2 and TAPUR trials since their inceptions. Over the past five years Jane has cut back on her paid consulting, and spends a majority of her time devoted to advocacy. During this time her involvement has expanded beyond cancer and is increasingly focused on health research policy. For example, she has been on the Steering Committee of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), and involved in their projects related to improving Informed Consent, establishing best practices for Data Monitoring Committees and use of a single IRB for multi-site trials. She has also have been involved in a number of NCI Working Groups, Reagan-Udall’s Integrated Medical Environment Decision Support (IMEDS) Steering Committee, PCORI Patient Engagement Advisory Board, Office of National Coordination (ONC) for Health Technology Interoperability Experience Task Force, Multi-Regional Clinical Trials (MRCT) Returning Results Work Group, and the IOM Consensus Committee on Biomarkers for Molecularly Targeted Therapies.