This month, Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, President and CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, sent a powerful letter to all faculty and staff at Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. We are committed to improving inclusion, diversity, and equity for our patients in the delivery of quality care, and to enhancing the care experience of patients from all backgrounds. This message highlights some of the critical work Dana-Farber is engaged in, and is a reminder that it is our collective responsibility to move this work forward.
A Letter from Leadership
Every April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) observes National Minority Health Month – a time to raise awareness about health disparities affecting historically underserved populations and encourage meaningful action through early detection and health education.
This year’s effort is organized around the theme of Better Health Through Better Understanding, which captures so much of the work that we do every day. Our commitment to inclusive, culturally competent care and scientific discoveries that reduce the burden of cancer everywhere, especially in historically marginalized communities, is at the core of our mission.
Our Cancer Care Equity Program (CCEP) leads much of our work to bridge our research and outreach efforts to address disparities and improve access to cancer care services, from screenings and preventive care, to access to treatment and clinical trials and more. Through the CCEP, we have integrated community-focused patient navigators throughout Greater Boston to assist patients in overcoming many of the barriers to accessible healthcare, such as food insecurity and transportation.
We have also made a significant commitment to examining cancer disparities in research. One important step we took recently was launching the Presidential Priorities for Disparities Research funding opportunity. This effort will support investigations aimed at elucidating mechanisms underlying cancer disparities—from bench to bedside—and interventional research to address them. This funding program was designed to encourage broad health equity investigative efforts to advance the science of disparities research. We are excited about the proposals we have received and look forward to sharing more news about this initiative with you as it progresses.
We are also a partner in the Men of African Descent and Carcinoma of the Prostate (MADCaP) Consortium, which is collaborating on epidemiologic studies to address the high burden of prostate cancer among this population. This project is focused on understanding the complex multifactorial causes of prostate cancer causes and outcomes among men of African ancestry worldwide. Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, Associate Director for Cancer Equity and Engagement, Dana Farber Harvard Cancer Center, and the Director of the Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, leads Dana-Farber’s work with the Consortium. The network has created guidelines, protocols, and best practices for doing research, and is studying the genomics of prostate cancer to understand any underlying components to elevated risk.
The racial and socioeconomic disparities that limit the health, well-being, and opportunities of so many of the communities that we serve are deeply engrained and have persisted for generations. Eliminating them is no small or easy feat. But it is one of our defining priorities today. And it will certainly take all of us working together as we always do.
I am grateful for your commitment to our work and to making Dana-Farber a cornerstone in our communities.
Laurie H. Glimcher, MD
Help support these efforts by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.