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How did the Army of Women get started?

Dr. Susan Love, like many members of the breast cancer community, was frustrated by the slow advancements in learning what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it. In order to learn more about the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer, researchers need to work with volunteers to explore possible solutions. Scientists, however, told Dr. Love 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. Without people to participate in studies, new and innovative research solutions are impossible.

Dr. Love realized that women and men want to help find breast cancer solutions and are willing to participate in studies  they just didn't know that they were needed! From this, the idea was born of an Army of Women, ready to serve science.

Why did the Avon Foundation for Women provide seed funding for this initiative?

The Avon Foundation for Women is one of the largest private funders of breast cancer research. As a result, they understood how difficult it can be for researchers to find volunteers for research studies. They recognized the need for the Army of Women and provided a grant to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation to make it happen.

Why is it called an Army of Women?

We want to raise breast cancer research and the search for a cause to a new level  one that will take a lot of women to accomplish. The word "army" means a large group of people united for a specific purpose. We feel this aptly describes who we are: a dedicated army, seeking to eradicate breast cancer once and for all.

Is the Army of Women a tissue bank?

The Army of Women does not bank tissue. 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 and how do I apply to utilize it for recruitment?

Interested women and men register on the Army of Women website. Signup is easy: members are asked to provide basic information such as name, age, ethnicity, and city of residence.

All researchers interested in using the Army of Women as a recruitment resource must register with the Army of Women and submit a project proposal. We accept applications for letters of support and recruitment requests for funded studies.

The Foundation research team reviews letter of support requests and, if approved, provides a letter and cost sheet for your funding application.

The Foundation research team and members of our external Scientific Advisory Committee  comprised of researchers, clinicians, and advocates  review each recruitment request, ensuring the project is feasible for the Army of Women and is ethical and safe in its design. Researchers whose studies are approved work with the Foundation research team to create content for our Army of Women study eblasts and website. Before we open recruitment for your study, we require documentation of your IRB's approval of all materials.

When we open recruitment for your study, volunteers can self-select to participate through our eblast or directly on our Army of Women website. We want to ensure that investigators are connected with good candidates for their study. To facilitate this goal, we have all interested participants go through an initial online screening process. Participants who self-select and are deemed appropriate are then connected with the research team. We will work with you to determine the best format for connecting you with eligible volunteers.

Army of Women volunteers who RSVP for a study will agree to have their contact information shared with the researcher for the sole purpose of screening and scheduling. Researchers agree not to share volunteer contact information or biologic samples with third parties or use the samples for purposes other than those outlined in the protocol for which the Army of Women volunteer consented and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee approved.

Can for-profit companies have access to the Army of Women?

Yes, researchers at for-profit companies can recruit for their studies via the Army of Women. 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.

What is the IRB approval policy?

The Army of Women requires researchers to agree to follow the provisions of the "Common Rule" (45CFR46) federal human subjects regulations and obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval before receiving biological samples or access to the Army of Women for their research. While these regulations currently do not apply to institutions that do not receive federal support, the Army of Women policy requires all researchers utilizing the Army of Women to follow the Common Rule.

Researchers will be required to obtain the appropriate IRB approval from their institution's IRB prior to recruitment.

If the researcher does not have an established IRB at his or her institution/organization, the researcher should use a central IRB. Alternatively, a researcher may use the services of the AAHRPP. For an accredited list of IRBs see AAHRPP's accredited organizations.

All researchers should be aware of how the federal human subjects' regulations apply to the use of human biological samples. If you are unfamiliar with the IRB approval process and would like guidance on how to proceed, please contact the Army of Women staff.

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 and project budget 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 Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation 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?

Studies range from those investigating the causes of breast cancer and how to prevent it, to quality of life issues experienced during and after treatment, to drugs for prevention or treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Army of Women members self-select the studies that interest them and for which they are eligible.

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. We also employ outreach techniques to find the population of interest. New participants are recruited from a variety of resources, including social media, referrals from current Army of Women members, newsletters, and partnerships with other organizations.

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 be willing to provide a webcast to explain the rationale and answer questions about their research study. After the study is completed, these researchers must participate in a webcast or provide a blog that outlines their findings.

How much will it cost to access the Army of Women?

Scientists are charged a one-time fee, which covers all recruitment activities through the Army of Women . Please contact 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.

I am registered as a researcher. Can I also sign up as a participant?

We welcome all researchers to also sign up as participants. To sign up as a participant, you must log out and create a participant account. You will need to use a different email address than your researcher account.