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Recruiting a Medical Advisory Board

For many voluntary health agencies, raising money for research with the hope of finding a treatment or cure for the disease is a priority. If the organization is going to fund research grants, it is important to have individuals with scientific training on board to oversee the process, such as a medical advisory committee who can oversee the scientific review process. Additionally there are many opportunities to encourage research through established channels such as through the National Institutes of Health. Starting your own research program or effectively advocating for continued research are both difficult and require demands on resources such as staff time and funding. The decision of where to focus resources is often a difficult one that should be explored with the board of directors through healthy dialogue that focuses on what is most important as it relates to the mission of the organization.

To identify MDs or PhDs who might serve on a medical advisory committee, consider physicians or researchers affiliated with clinical or research institutions with a special interest in the specific disease(s).  Check PubMed and other sources to see who is publishing on the topic.

One of the unique characteristics of the rare disease community is the close and supportive relationship that exists between medical experts and the patient community.  Don’t be afraid to ask the physicians or researchers who are experts on your disease to serve on your organization’s medical advisory committee.  In many cases, some of the busiest and most expert medical professionals are happy to take the time to assist patient organizations because of this unique relationship.

Having appropriate medical advisors is necessary for a patient organization to provide accurate information to its members and the public.  In addition, medical advisors provide key assistance in other areas, including advocacy and research.

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