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Cancer Disparities

About Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities

History and Leadership

History and Vision

When DF/HCC was established, its leaders recognized the need to increase innovative research in cancer disparities. At the time, each member institution had its own strategy for assessing patients’ racial/ethnic identity and addressing disparities, and each maintained independent relationships with the communities in which they served. A long-term, integrated effort was needed.

DF/HCC created the Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (IECD), committing substantial faculty time and financial resources on an ongoing basis to the complexities of cancer disparities. As a centralized initiative, the IECD is transforming how member institutions work together, including how they address cancer disparities in underserved communities. Our goal is to overcome barriers, improve understanding, and facilitate patient access to clinical trials. By bringing intellectual and organizational resources to bear on these issues, the IECD is emerging as a pivotal resource at DF/HCC.

Deputy Associate Director
Karen Burns White

Karen Burns White, Deputy Associate Director for the Initiative has co-led the Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts since 2001. As Deputy Associate Director, Ms. Burns White coordinates the planning and implementation of the Center's efforts to increase minority participation at all levels of the Cancer Center activities. A particular focus for the center is on the reduction of health disparities with an emphasis on cancer-related disparities. Ms. Burns White has co-led the implementation of an integrated structure that involves a multi-prong approach including community engagement, cultural competency, recruitment and retention of minority faculty and training. In 2002, Ms. Burns White secured the first training grant supplement to the existing P30 cancer center grant that established a pipeline program, known as the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE), to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in cutting edge cancer research. This successful high profile program provides research opportunities for pre-baccalaureate, undergraduate, pre- and post-doctoral, and faculty levels. Under Ms. Burns White's leadership, she and her colleagues have been successful in seeking opportunities to further strengthen and sustain the cancer center’s training portfolio. This is most notable with our increase in NIH and foundation funding to support student training initiatives and the number of students who have benefited by their CURE experiences.

Ms. Burns White has a long history of involvement with civic and community organizations. She serves on the board of directors and leads the grant-making program for the Susan G. Komen for the CURE – Massachusetts Affiliate. She also serves as a member of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Advisory Committee whose primary responsibility is to identify priorities and develop strategies for program development and implementation and to assist in the creation of the new state cancer control plan for period of 2012-2017.

Email: karen_burnswhite@dfci.harvard.edu. Phone: 617-632-3244.