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Ellen Sigal, the founder of the patient advocacy group Friends of Cancer Research (FOCR), is a self-described accidental tourist in the world of drug discovery. After completing a PhD in Russian History and launching a career as a real estate developer, the death of her 40-year-old sister from breast cancer forced her to confront medicine’s shortcomings. “It was extraordinarily traumatic,” says Sigal. To spare others from the same grief, she has been amplifying the patient voice ever since.