The face of cancer clinical trial recruitment

Visitors to the Stanford Cancer Institute clinical trials webpage are greeted by Ellen DiNucci’s friendly smile and the caption, “Need help finding a trial?” In her role as Patient Recruitment and Information Specialist, she communicates with cancer patients looking to participate in one of the 250-plus cancer clinical trials that evaluate new diagnostic, prevention and treatment approaches. She also advises cancer investigators and staff on how to develop strategies to find qualified participants for their studies.

When DiNucci first joined the Stanford Cancer Clinical Trials Office, which is under the umbrella of the Stanford Cancer Institute, clinical trials information assistance was limited to a phone service. Since then, she has helped develop a Cancer Clinical Trials Information Service, a useful portfolio of services and communication materials that connects patients, health care professionals and the public to information on the steps to finding and enrolling in cancer clinical trials and research studies.

For cancer clinical trial inquirers, DiNucci has worked with outreach and community engagement staff to create well-crafted print/web materials and presentations that provide education on how to become a study participant. She also provides content for a Frequently Asked Questions webpage for potential participants. DiNucci often takes these materials on the road, representing the Institute at numerous events, including ones that focus on underrepresented communities. FAQs and two page handouts on finding trials and enrolling into studies are available on the Stanford Cancer Institute website.

For Stanford cancer clinical research group staff, she meets with trial teams when requested to brainstorm on outreach, helping them create general and targeted strategies that focus on web, print and social media, as well as community and physician organizations. She also applies her patient-perspective to Institute publications and has provided voice narration for the Stanford Cancer Institute information kiosk and Continuing Medical Education and patient education webinar projects.

DiNucci has worked for more than 20 years at the medical school. Prior to SCI she worked at the Stanford Prevention Research Center on studies that addressed healthy aging. In addition, she has taught numerous stress reduction workshops at Stanford to nurses, patients, research study participants, and staff.

To learn more about how Ellen DiNucci can help you with your cancer clinical research group study recruitment, contact her at

For assistance in recruiting participants into non-cancer studies, contact the Recruitment Enhancement Core at