Remembering Rachel Minnick: Passionate Clinical Trial Volunteer and Advocate
Advocacy Rachel Minnick dedicated much of her life as a medical hero. We honor and remember her legacy.
Diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2013, the wife and mother of two fought back fiercely against the disease with a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She participated in a clinical trial. And she worked tirelessly to educate others about their treatment options and the clinical research process.
“Rachel was always pro research, pro clinical trials,” says her husband, Pete Minnick. “She always had that mindset ‘we’re on the cutting edge of medical breakthroughs and technology,’ and she wanted to be on that cutting edge.”
Her cancer was in remission from 2014 to early 2017, until she began experiencing pain in her back and neck. It was at this time that her doctors informed her that the cancer was back and had spread to her bones.
“That was a huge blow to us,” Pete says, noting it was stage 4 cancer. “She knew she wasn’t going to be cured.”
In early 2018, the cancer spread to Minnick’s lungs and liver. She was actively looking for her next clinical trial when she passed away this past April, at age 39, but her legacy lives on.
Prior to her cancer spreading, Minnick took a position as a Senior Manager of Marketing and Patient Engagement Alliances at The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), a non-profit dedicated to educating the public and patients about clinical research.
“Her compassion combined with her professionalism and the passion that she brought to CISCRP has inspired so many people...”
She was passionate about her job for many reasons not only was there a focus on the patient community but it also allowed her to work from her Philadelphia-area home which gave her the opportunity to continue her medical care as well as spend time with the couple’s children, Emily and Sam, now ages 9 and 7.
Being a part of CISCRP was more than a job for her.
“She felt like she was helping the entire clinical trial community as well as doing something she liked,” says her husband.
CISCRP gave her the opportunity to offer hope to other people who were in her same situation.
“Rachel had direct experience which gave her such an inside perspective,” says her former boss, CISCRP founder, Ken Getz. “It fed her compassion and helped her understand, even more deeply, what so many patients are going through.”
Getz says Minnick’s legacy lives on through her work; the panels she moderated, the clinical trial awareness initiatives that she spearheaded, her collaborative projects, and the enduring educational brochures, newsletters and other patient communications that she wrote during her time with CISCRP.
“Her passing was truly a shock to me,” says Pete Koerner, a pharmaceutical industry colleague, who worked with Rachel and the CISCRP team for two years.
He described Minnick as someone who was always enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated to her family, her staff and her work.
“She was invested in clinical research,” says Koerner, explaining Minnick was proud to be the patient voice and wanted to advance the techniques and technologies in the clinical trials process.
"She felt like she was helping the entire clinical trial community."
Getz reflects on Minnick’s lasting impression, “Her compassion combined with her professionalism and the passion that she brought to CISCRP has inspired so many people – those who reported to her, those who she mentored, and those with whom she collaborated. That will stay with us forever. She truly helped to define our culture and evolve it in such meaningful ways.”