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The podcast feeding the movement to cure paralysis

The Shoulders of Giants (Episode 98)

Guest: Fran Visco

You might be wondering why we are interviewing the founder of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Fran Visco. Well, it turns out that she is the person primarily responsible for the formation of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) out of the Defense Department. One of their many programs is SCIRP - the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program. Fran was the first peer reviewer for breast cancer after CDMRP was formed. Today's interview conversation was extraordinary for illuminating the parallels and insights between two very different disease conditions. It was fantastic to listen to someone who not only has been advocating in a different space - breast cancer (Fran is also a survivor of breast cancer) - for some 30 plus years, but who has also run up against the same barriers in the research system that we in the SCI space deal with as well. To talk with Fran about the similarities in our work and advocacy efforts was fascinating.

As many of you know, we in the SCI community always hear the money refrain: that what we really need is “more money, more money, more money.” Well, cancer receives a lot more money than spinal cord injury, obviously. But what’s fascinating, and what our conversation shows, is that even with all that money, many of the same barriers we face in the SCI space continue to exist in the cancer space. To hear from Fran, who's been doing the difficult work of advocacy for so long and been very successful, yet continues to experience some of the same challenges and obstacles that we do is both humbling and encouraging. So, even though this isn't a spinal cord injury researcher or advocate, it is someone who is doing very similar work in a different condition, and I think you'll easily appreciate all the wisdom she has to share with our movement.

As always, please share your thoughts with us via email at Thanks for listening! 

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Soundcloud

Bumper music: Dig a Hole by Freaque

Guest Bio

Fran Visco, a more than 30-year breast cancer survivor, is the president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and a member of its board of directors. She is an honors graduate of Villanova Law School, where she was an editor of The Villanova Law Review and a chair of the Women’s Law Caucus.

President Clinton appointed Ms. Visco to three terms as one of three members of the President’s Cancer Panel. She was the first consumer to chair the Integration Panel of the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program (DOD BCRP). Ms. Visco cochaired the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer and she served on the National Cancer Policy Board. She is also a member of the board of directors of Translational Research in Oncology, an international nonprofit clinical trials consortium.

Ms. Visco has been appointed to several Institute of Medicine (IOM) panels and served as a member of the IOM Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine. She is a previous member of the board of directors of Women’s Way in Philadelphia, the nation’s oldest and largest women’s funding federation.

Learn more and connect with Fran Visco & NBCC here:

Further Reading