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Lay abstracts are an important part of grant applications. They allow a more general audience to understand and engage with your science. This fosters greater support for science and research among non-scientists.

This workshop includes a short presentation about lay abstracts followed by editing submitted lay abstracts as a group.

The goal of this workshop is to help you gain the skills needed to explain your research to a non-scientific audience.

The workshop was held March 17, 2023. The workshop recording, slide deck, and speaker bios are below.

Workshop Recording


Workshop Resources


Speakers Bios

Laurie Betts

Headshot of Laurie Betts

Laurie Betts is a 4-year esophageal cancer survivor. She joined the Lineberger Cancer Cancer Patient Advocates for Research over three years ago. She has experience as a Patient Advocate Consultant for UNC applicants (successful) for V foundation and ASCO grants. Laurie helps new cancer clinical trials study coordinators learn their craft by participating in mock consenting sessions as the practice patient. She has helped edit new UNC clinical trials consent forms to bring the patient perspective to them. Laurie has participated for several cycles in reviewing UNC Lineberger Developmental Award applications (Basic Science) as a patient advocate reviewer. She participates regularly in the UNC Lineberger Patient Advocates for Research Council (PARC). Laurie has participated in the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Scientist-Survivor Program for several years and is a member of the Cancer and Evolution Working Group at AACR.

Vernal Branch

Headshot of Vernal BranchVernal Branch brings her 29 years experience as a breast cancer survivor and trained advocate in many areas. She has been reviewer and chair for the Dept. of Defense and the CA Breast Cancer Research Programs. As an African American she was able to assist in recruitment and outreach NIEHS Sister Study. Presently, Vernal is serving NCI Alliance for Clinical Trials GU and Prevention Committees. Vernal has helped with protocol design with several institutions, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University and now is a member of the UNC SPORE advocate.

Summer Choudhury

With over a decade long tenure in research, Summer’s background in high-intensity clinical settings and public health allows her to operationalize practical research strategies with both patients and investigators in mind. In her current role at the NC TraCS Recruitment & Retention Program, she focuses on reviewing grants and protocols for feasibility, educating investigators on language best practices and developing ongoing relationships with community, patient and staff advisory boards. Summer is committed to developing evidence-based, multi-modal research plans for investigators across the UNC enterprise that is rooted in creativity, inclusivity, and care. Her own research interests and publications focus on patient and caregiver experiences, provider-patient communication, and informed consent.

Laura Jensen

Headshot of Laura JensenLaura’s background in human resources, for the American Cancer Society (18 yrs), exposed her to cancer patients, oncologists, cancer research, and working with volunteers. She was a caregiver for her husband during his year-long treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma before she herself was diagnosed with two different breast cancers. During her recovery, Laura turned to her love of writing. She wrote and published several short stories. She is eager to take her background and writing skills to her current role as an advocate. For example, not long ago as a breast SPORE advocate she helped in reviewing the material for Carolina Breast Cancer Survey questionnaire. She assisted a researcher with grant preparation and served as the advocate on the grant proposal. She recently did a role play interview as part of a new study coordinators training. For the past two years she has participated in grant review evaluations for potential Lineberger grants. She is a member of the Lineberger Board of Visitors, a member of the Research Patient Advocacy Council, and a member of Patients and Researchers Together.

Mary Lee MacKichan, PhD

Headshot of Mary Lee MacKichanMary Lee MacKichan is a research associate at UNC Lineberger. Her role involves science writing and grant development support for UNC Lineberger members.

Patty Spears

Headshot of Patty SpearsPatty Spears is an over 20-year breast cancer survivor and a 1-year liver cancer survivor. She has been a cancer research patient advocate for over 20 years. She is currently working as a scientific research manager and patient advocate at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center where she leads the UNC Lineberger Patient Advocates for Research Council (PARC) and the UNC Breast SPORE Advocates. At UNC she focuses on communicating research to the public and facilitates the engagement of patient advocates with Lineberger researchers and clinical trials. Patty is also a patient advocate for national organizations including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN).