How Can I Achieve a Successful Working Relationship With CARRA Members?
  • Maintain a Receptive Attitude

    Participating in your activity may or may not be a new experience for the CARRA member(s) you have selected to participate in your activity. It is important to enable them to be informed, active participants in your activity, by providing relevant background material and being receptive to questions. The foundation of knowledge CARRA members build in preparation for your activity will result in more substantive, meaningful contributions, both now and in the future.

  • Encourage All Participants to Work Together

    Clearly inform all non-CARRA participants (i.e. NCI staff, scientists, etc.) that CARRA members are participating in your activity, and define the CARRA members' role. Encourage all participants to work together with CARRA members, treat them as fellow participants, and respect the perspective they bring to your activity. In the CARRA program, we have already put significant emphasis on respect for the Institute staff members, scientists, and others on Institute teams.

    CARRA members are colleagues and partners. They represent an expertise and experience that most NCI staff and other participants do not have. As more and more Institute staff have the opportunity to work with CARRA members, mutual respect becomes a natural part of the interaction and needs few if any reminders.

  • Confirm a Sufficient Understanding of Policies

    Many of your responsibilities as an Activity Contact are not specific to CARRA members.

    Example: All participants need to be well-informed about confidentiality, conflict of interest, and the lobbying policy.

    Some CARRA members may be less familiar with some of these issues. It is very important to provide sufficient guidance and instruction to CARRA members to ensure that they, as well as all the other participants, fully understand the importance and implications of these issues.

  • Provide Guidance about Confidentiality

    Most NCI activities involve a discussion or a review of confidential information, which is protected by confidentiality policies and agreements. In general, confidential information includes

    • Any information submitted to NCI for review, such as grant applications, contract proposals, and renewal/status reports
    • Any financial, professional, or personal information related to an individual or organization, such as salaries, performance reports, and health information
    • Recommendations or proceedings related to funding decisions by NCI

    Confidentiality could be inadvertently violated if CARRA members believe they should seek outside assistance (from a cancer research facility near them or other source) to understand technical or scientific issues. Please make it clear that any questions should be directed to you as the Activity Contact, and that you can put them in touch with other Institute staff or appropriate resources for technical or scientific explanations.

    Please also confirm with CARRA members that they may not duplicate any activity materials, and give clear instructions about leaving materials containing confidential information with you or your designated Institute staff at the end of each activity.

    Providing clear instructions, identifying materials or discussions containing confidential information, and being receptive to CARRA members' questions will all contribute to avoiding any unintended breaches of confidentiality.

  • Provide Guidance about Conflict of Interest

    Conflict of Interest must be avoided at all times. Assessing conflicts of interest can be challenging, particularly for individuals less familiar with procedures for assessing and avoiding conflicts of interest. It is critical that you

    • Clarify the meaning of conflict of interest in the context of your activity
    • Stress the importance of notifying you of any potential conflict of interest
    • Encourage all participants to ask questions if they are uncertain whether or not a conflict exists

  • Provide Guidance about the Policy on Lobbying

    • Be sure to confirm with CARRA members that they understand the Policy on Lobbying
    • CARRA members as well as other participants should understand why they are prohibited from lobbying during your activity

  • Help With Travel Arrangements and Reimbursements

    As you do for all activities involving outside participants, you will need to provide

    • Travel logistics information
    • Instructions concerning reimbursement for expenses

    Please Note: CARRA members should receive the same approved travel expenses and honorarium as do other participants in your activity. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact us.

  • Handle Any Difficulty Proactively

    Problems can arise in any activity and with any participant, so sometimes CARRA members participate in an activity where an unexpected problem occurs. The steps needed to address such situations are familiar to you:

    1. Understand the nature and causes of the situation
    2. Take appropriate steps to address the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible

      For example, there may be:

      • A misunderstanding about the purpose of your activity
      • A need for additional information or orientation for participants
      • An unexpected development in your activity which participants who have been involved for a long time would instantly know how to deal with, but a new participant would not

    Problems with CARRA member participation are rare. If one occurs, please contact Elizabeth Neilson, CARRA Program Manager at, or 301-451-3321, if you need help to identify the source of a problem and remedies to meet individuals' needs.

    Clarifying the following elements prior to the start of an activity, and having them available for reference during an activity, are helpful for overall success: each participant's role and responsibilities; the goals of the activity; and the need to develop consensus after respectfully considering all viewpoints.

    Note: If CARRA members have a different view from other participants, remember that they are included for their perspective. When active discussions and deliberations occur, it is everyone's expectation that they will do so in a professional and respectful manner.

  • Give Feedback about CARRA Members' Participation

    CARRA members are dedicated to making a contribution to the projects they work on with the National Cancer Institute and any other NIH Institute or Center. When your activity is completed - or if it is an ongoing activity, then periodically - please check in with your CARRA member(s) to thank them for their participation and give them informal feedback. Both positive feedback and constructive comments for growth will both be appreciated.

    In addition, following each activity involving CARRA members, you will be asked to complete a Post Activity questionnaire to gather your feedback about CARRA member participation. Depending on the depth of your feedback, the questionnaire will require approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your thoughts and experiences working with CARRA members are used to

    • Inform future CARRA orientations and trainings
    • Assist mentors in providing support to CARRA members
    • Identify specific problems that need to be addressed

    Please Note: Your feedback is always confidential.