New Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy Begins

Author: CRND

Patient Families

We are excited to announce a new Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy Fall 2021.

The Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy provides interdisciplinary training in understanding disease at the molecular, genetic, and clinical levels and use that information to develop treatments for patients through natural history studies of disease. In the spirit of Notre Dame, the minor provides students with effective patient advocacy skills to facilitate resolution of medical and social issues faced by patients with rare diseases.

The program is based on foundational course work developed by faculty and staff at the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases (CRND). With the founding of CRND, Director, Prof. Kasturi Haldar, established the first undergraduate courses to incorporate in-class engagement with rare disease patients as well as student publications that globally serve patients, clinicians and researchers.  Prof. Barbara Calhoun, RN, NP, CRND’s Outreach Coordinator, expanded the program to cover hundreds of rare diseases and created summer opportunities for patient advocacy with clinical research.  

According to Prof Calhoun, the undergraduate students were the driving force for the development of this minor. “The rare disease clinical research courses have become very popular with pre-medical and science majors, and we have had to place students on waiting lists for the past 4 semesters." In the words of Prof. Haldar, ‘the minor in Science and Patient Advocacy provides an integrated framework that will provide students with needed skills to become effective Patient Opinion Leaders who have enormous influences in health outcomes at all levels in our society." 

Prof. Barbara Calhoun is the Advisor and co-Director for the minor. Prof. Shaun Lee is a co-Director.

For more information, visit or contact the Program Coordinator Valerie Vargas at or call (574) 631-9734.