Barbara Calhoun Assistant Professor of the Practice

Reisenauer Family Director for Patient Advocacy Initiative; Director, Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy
Barbara Calhoun

Academic Interests:

My main academic emphasis revolves around offering undergraduate students extensive learning opportunities in the field of rare disease clinical research. By conducting thorough reviews of patient medical records, actively engaging with patient families, and collaborating with clinicians and researchers, students gain profound insights into the experience of being diagnosed with a rare disease. In my role as the Director of the Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy, students not only acquire clinical research expertise but also cultivate essential skills for effective advocacy on behalf of rare disease patients. This minor program creates avenues for students to collaborate with professionals in research, clinical practice, biotechnology companies, and directly with patients, fostering a holistic understanding of and engagement with the complexities of rare diseases.

The foundation of the Patient Advocacy Initiative is rooted in the interdisciplinary Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy (MSPA), capitalizing on the university's expertise in rare disease research. This initiative goes beyond traditional boundaries, presenting unique programming and experiential learning opportunities in rare disease outreach, education, and advocacy.These efforts are directed towards raising awareness and identifying opportunities to assist patients with overcoming the many challenges they face living with a rare disease.

Current Teaching Courses:

  • Clinical Research in Rare Diseases (BIOS 40450)
  • Rare Disease Advocacy Immersion (BIOS 40451)
  • Topics in Rare Disease Advocacy and Policy (BIOS 40565)


  • Director of Patient Advocacy Education and Outreach 2022-Present
  • Director, Minor in Science and Patient Advocacy 2021-Present
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice 2021-present