Each ITONF Subcommittee has its own Terms of Reference & Workplan

Research Sub-Committee: To develop research-related knowledge and skills capacity in the international thoracic oncology nursing community through the delivery of research-related educational support, academic mentorship and international nursing research opportunities. 

Research Lead: Melissa Culligan

Melissa Culligan (USA) is the Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Temple University Hospital.  She received her BSN from Wilkes University and a Master’s of Science degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in area of Clinical Research. She has more than 30 years of experience working in the field of thoracic surgery with a special focus and expertise in caring for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma and advanced stage lung cancer.  She is the co-author of multiple peer-reviewed papers on the topics of lung cancer and mesothelioma and has lectured nationally and internationally on the nursing care of patients undergoing thoracic surgery. She has a special interest in clinical trial development and management for thoracic oncology patients and leads multiple surgery-based clinical trials at Temple University Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. Her doctoral research is focused on the experience of dyspnea for patients undergoing lung-sparing surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Working Group Members: Vanessa Brunelli, Kate Slaven, Liz Waxman

Dr Vanessa Brunelli (AUS) is a Research Fellow appointed by Queensland University of Technology. Vanessa’s program of research centres on understanding the role and capabilities of the specialist lung cancer nurse. Her postdoctoral research includes a national study investigating the core supportive care components of the specialist lung cancer nurse role that appear most influential to patient experience, to inform Australia’s first discrete specialist lung cancer nurse workforce model. This study is supported by an inaugural Lung Foundation Australia Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Early Career Research Fellowship. To date, Vanessa has attracted over $500,000.00 in competitive grant funding (including an NHMRC PhD scholarship) to undertake research into the role and capabilities of the specialist lung cancer nurse. Vanessa also maintains a strong commitment to professional leadership in the field of lung cancer research and education, and capacity building in the lung cancer nursing workforce. Vanessa is the Chair of the Steering Committee, Australia and New Zealand Lung Cancer Nurses Forum (ANZ-LCNF), Lead of the ANZ-LCNF Research and Education portfolios.

Kate Slaven (UK). Kate’s first job as a qualified nurse was on an oncology ward – she loved it. That was a long time ago but she has stayed within that field for her entire career.  She has experience as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, Specialist Palliative Care and Oncology Nursing working in England and Scotland.  Having worked in the different environments of medical oncology, radiotherapy, surgery, haematology, day units and clinics in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, she has now found a place to focus.  Her current post is as Clinical Nurse Specialist in lung cancer and mesothelioma at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England. She is also one of the Mesothelioma UK Specialist Nurses and covers the East of England.  Kate is active in the field of research with particular focus on qualitative studies to explore patient experience and advocacy issues.  Her current study explores the impact of cough on quality of life in patients with mesothelioma. She has completed Master of Science in Advanced Nursing Practice (distinction).

Liz Waxman (USA) is a nurse practitioner in the Department of Thoracic/Head & Neck Medical Oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas. She has been an oncology nurse longer than she cares to admit. Her introduction to oncology was in New York, where she worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. She has worked at M.D. Anderson since 1991, and in medical oncology specifically since 1999. Liz has seen many changes in the treatment of lung cancer leading to longer survival. She enjoys educational aspects of her job. Patient, family, staff education. She also enjoys collaborating with colleagues from other institutions and within her own institution. She is most excited about targeted therapies and the impact they have on patients in terms of quality of life, and survival. She thinks this is an exciting time in the treatment of lung cancer, with immunotherapy and new targeted therapies for patients.