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Innovations in Science

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Empowering the Citizen Scientist

by Philippe Bishop M.D.

Empowering the Citizen Scientist

Cancer Research Has Made Progress.  But we can do more.  One in three women will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and among that unlucky 33%, the majority will receive a diagnosis of breast cancer. That means more than 220,000 women this year alone.

Cancer doesn’t wait to strike. It’s impatient. But the good news is, so are we. My name is Philippe Bishop, and I’m a doctor with a company called Genentech. We are pioneering a different approach to making cancer medicines. We tease apart the molecular details of how normal cells grow into tumors and then use this knowledge to create better medicines.  We’ve now set our sights on new ways to improve how our medicines are studied in clinical trials. And we need your help. 

As we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re asking you to help us change the very nature of breast cancer research by harnessing a technology that’s already a huge part of our everyday lives – social media. 

In partnership with 23andMe, we launched a unique Web-based study for people with advanced (metastatic) breast cancer called InVite. If you have advanced breast cancer, you may be eligible to participate from your own home. Simply click to sign up, submit DNA by spitting into a tube, and then visit a website and answer surveys.

The broad goal of InVite is to explore how we can utilize social media to empower patients to participate in research with the latest medical technologies, and hopefully, move science forward in a meaningful way.  We also hope to learn if genes play a role in how people responded to a certain anti-cancer medicine they have taken.

With research models like InVite, many people can become “citizen scientists,” directly contributing data to help us move cancer research forward. If you or someone you know might be a candidate, please visit the Invite study site for more information.

Moving Cancer Research Forward—InVite is the first study of its kind, bringing together a biotechnology company, a genetics company and people with a disease who are willing to share their experiences and genetic information.  It is also part of a broader initiative at Genentech to explore ways of improving how we do clinical trials.  We believe fresh approaches are necessary if we are to reach our goal of bringing better medicines more quickly to people with serious diseases like cancer. 

We’ve been humbled by the selfless desire of so many people with breast cancer to get involved in our research.  We hope that through InVite we can build a model of collaboration and participation that will not only impact breast cancer, but all medical research in the future.

Even if you are not a candidate for InVite, please spread the word to your family and friends by posting the following messages to your social media pages:


If you’ve got breast cancer, find out how you can give back to the cancer community w/ @Genentech: Pls RT


Let’s make it our goal that our daughters won’t need a Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’ve got breast cancer, you can help right now by participating in this study: If you don’t, please help spread the word.

Learn more at:

About Dr. Philippe Bishop
Dr. Philippe Bishop is a vice president of clinical development at Genentech. Dr. Bishop has worked in medical research with several companies and also for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). His work in clinical trial design and policies on genetics were recognized with the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, one of the highest honors. Dr. Bishop earned his medical degree from the University of Nevada School of Medicine, completed training in internal medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine, and went on to a medical oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

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