Announcing the MNCCTN Educational Campaign to increase knowledge and access to clinical trials

Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network Announces Development of Collaborative Statewide Educational Campaign

The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN) is pleased to announce the development of a statewide educational campaign about clinical trials. The educational campaign aims to increase awareness and understanding of  clinical trials for all Minnesotans. MNCCTN hopes to reach as many audiences as possible throughout the state but is especially prioritizing reaching communities traditionally underrepresented in and historically excluded from clinical trials. Approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in May 2022, the project will officially begin on July 19, 2022 and is expected to be developed and implemented over three years. 

Through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process, MNCCTN and the campaign advisory committee selected creative firm AddWomxn to assist MNCCTN and stakeholders with the development, implementation, and assessment of the campaign. AddWomxn has partnered with health care communications and policy firm Aurrera Health Group to spearhead an extensive equity-centered stakeholder outreach and community engagement initiative that will inform the creative and educational strategy which the AddWomxn team will create and execute.

“MNCCTN’s mission is to increase access to clinical trials for all Minnesotans. The initial idea for the educational campaign was sparked by MNCCTN’s clinical partners as a way to work toward this mission and remove barriers to clinical trial participation,” said Marie L. Rahne, MBA, director of MNCCTN. “Many health care and cancer research organizations have similar missions and ideas, and we are committed to working together to form connections and achieve our common goals with this collaborative campaign.” 

While led by MNCCTN, the educational campaign is a collaborative project in the public interest that will be shaped by stakeholders throughout the state who are committed to cancer research and community engagement. The educational campaign is rooted in community engagement and health equity. Over the last nine months, the MNCCTN team has brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from the University of Minnesota, Masonic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium, Minnesota Cancer Alliance, M Health Fairview, and more to form an advisory committee that collaborates with MNCCTN and provides input and organizational perspectives on the campaign. 

To ensure diverse community voices are represented in the campaign from start to finish, MNCCTN formed a Community Consultant program in December 2021. The program offers paid roles for individuals to provide their voices, experience, skills, and community connections throughout the entire campaign process. The educational campaign now has nine Community Consultants from a variety of backgrounds, life experiences, and skill sets, and the program is still growing.

“Being involved with cancer health equity, it is very apparent there is work to do with removing barriers and improving education and access to clinical trials for communities traditionally underserved, underrepresented, and flat-out excluded from clinical trials,” said Talaya Dendy, cancer survivor, cancer doula, and Community Consultant. “As a Black woman and a cancer thriver, it is very troubling to know that most Black cancer patients are not offered clinical trials. That means, in some cases, their chance to live has been diminished. I am hopeful the development of the Community Consultant program and this Educational Campaign will help ensure all communities are aware of clinical trials, educated about them, and have access to them."

With the project team now in place, the educational campaign will begin with a robust nine-month Discovery Phase with background research, stakeholder interviews, and community engagement sessions. The team wants to hear directly from community leaders and members about their knowledge, beliefs, and experiences with clinical trials, health care, barriers to participation, and more. This phase will directly impact the educational and creative strategy and key messages for the campaign. 

“As an oncology nurse, reducing the burden of cancer in Minnesota and advancing health equity to increase awareness and access to clinical trials for all Minnesotans is essential,” said GayLynn Richards, DNP, RN, MPH, patient advocate, campaign advisory committee member, and Community Consultant. “What resonates with me is the deep commitment from MNCCTN leadership and partners to hearing the community voice through respectful community engagement that will inform and guide the trajectory of the project over time. Lives will be saved.”

To learn more about MNCCTN, visit If you are interested in hearing more about the campaign or becoming a Community Consultant, please contact Jessie Alkire at and Susannah Bartlow at

The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN) is a cancer clinical trials network with locations across Minnesota. The network is funded by the Minnesota legislature as part of the University of Minnesota's MnDRIVE Program. Led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, MNCCTN and its partner organizations aim to improve cancer outcomes for all Minnesotans through greater access to cancer clinical trials in prevention and treatment.