Martins fund health equity projects to reduce disparities

Access to high-quality health care in the U.S. is not equal. Race, socioeconomic status, and geography have a significant bearing on care outcomes for too many people. Demond and Kia Martin are dedicated to erasing gaps created by racial and social injustice.

In memory of Demond’s sister, Tonia—whose cancer was detected too late, though she continuously sought care in rural Kansas—the Martins established the Tonia Taylor Fund for Health Equity with a gift of $200,000 to support two pilot projects aimed at reducing disparities in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH, faculty director for Cancer Care Equity at Dana-Farber, is connecting medically underserved patients in Boston to Dana-Farber’s precision medicine capabilities—including molecular tumor sequencing and clinical trials.

Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, director of the Center for Cancer Equity and Engagement in the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, is developing new screening guidelines to benefit men at high risk for prostate cancer, which disproportionately affects African American men.

Both projects leverage partnerships with health centers throughout Boston to best reach predominantly African American and Latino communities.

“My sister was the most giving person I have ever known. She lived a life dedicated to helping others. But in her time of need, due to structural inequities, she was not met with the same excellent care many of us receive,” said Martin, who is a Dana-Farber Trustee. “It is our honor to cherish the spirit of her life by making life better for others.”