University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Rena J. Pasick, DrPH

Rena J. Pasick, DrPH

Professor Emerita, Department of Medicine, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Cancer Control

Research Summary

I have more than twenty-five years’ experience working on cancer disparities in low-income ethnically diverse communities and clinical settings in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am trained in Public Health as a Health Educator. Based on my record of cancer disparities research, I was recruited to the UCSF Cancer Center in 2002 to serve in the new position of Director for Community Education and Outreach. Our initial objective was to establish our Center as a force for good in under-served communities. Toward that end, we created a Community Advisory Board (CAB) of influential leaders from our diverse communities, individuals who are proactive and eager for their communities to benefit from the resources of UCSF. Immediately the CAB formed a Faith Committee with the mission of building the capacity of African American church health ministries. Because UCSF had major NCI-funded Cancer Center initiatives in Asian and Latino communities, this became our focus. We developed a model for capacity-building that included ongoing training, technical assistance, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions to churches (e.g., NCI’s Body + Soul). To date, more than 70 churches in four counties have participated.
Through this work, I developed the Graduated Community Engagement Model, which first entails building trust and lasting partnerships through education, training, and capacity-building service to communities addressing their cancer disparities. Second, we expose our partners to the benefits of research through use of evidence-based interventions. Third, we engage in community-based participatory research on community priority issues (e.g., prostate cancer research now under way). Based on those experiences, community leaders are receptive to and ready to promote participation in biomedical research.


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, B.S., Dental Hygiene, 1972
George Washington University, Washington, D.C., M.A., Health Care Administration, 1978
University of California, Berkeley, M.P.H., Health Education, 1980
University of California, Berkeley, Dr. P.H., Health Policy and Administration, 1985

Professional Experience

  • 1977-1979
    Health Policy Consultant (F/T), Office of Health Information and Health Promotion, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C.
  • 1981-1984
    Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant, Dept. of Social & Admin. Health Sciences, UC Berkeley
  • 1985-1987
    Project Director, Health Promotion for Minorities in California, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
  • 1985-1988
    Lecturer (Health Promotion and Aging), Dept of Social and Administrative Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
  • 1987-1988
    Project Coordinator, Community and Home Injury Prevention Project for Seniors, San Francisco Department of Health
  • 1989-1991
    Affiliated Faculty, Institute for Health and Aging, UC San Francisco
  • 1989-2002
    Assistant Director, Prevention Sciences, Northern California Cancer Center, Union City, CA, 1989-1993; Associate Director, 1993-1998; Director, 1998-2002
  • 2002-2007
    Associate Professor of Medicine; University of California, San Francisco
  • 2002-present
    Director, Office of Community Engagement, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 2007-present
    Professor of Medicine; University of California, San Francisco

Honors & Awards

  • 2009
    Robert F. Allen Symbol of H.O.P.E. Outstanding contributions to promoting cultural diversity in health promotion-American Journal of Health Promotion
  • 2010-2017
    Susan G. Komen Scholar –Unsolicited. Confers grant of $200,000/year
  • 2012
    The Harvey Lecture, American Association of Cancer Education
  • 2013
    UCSF Faculty Award for Excellence in Community Partnerships
    OMB No. 0925-0001 and 0925-0002 (Rev. 10/15 Approved Through 10/31/2018)
  • 2014
    Woman of the Year, Women Health Care Executives
  • 2014
    UCSF Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award for Diversity

Selected Publications

  1. Rivadeneira NA, Hoskote M, Le GM, Nguyen TT, Nápoles AM, Pasick RJ, Sarkar U, Hiatt RA. Advancing Cancer Control in San Francisco: Cancer Screening in Under-Represented Populations. Am J Prev Med. 2020 01; 58(1):e1-e9.
    View on PubMed
  2. Ramirez AG, Gallion KJ, Perez A, Adeigbe RT, Munoz E, Pasick RJ. Éxito!: Making an Impact in Training Latinos for Doctorates and Cancer Research. J Cancer Educ. 2019 Oct; 34(5):928-937.
    View on PubMed
  3. Lyson HC, Le GM, Zhang J, Rivadeneira N, Lyles C, Radcliffe K, Pasick RJ, Sawaya G, Sarkar U, Centola D. Social Media as a Tool to Promote Health Awareness: Results from an Online Cervical Cancer Prevention Study. J Cancer Educ. 2019 Aug; 34(4):819-822.
    View on PubMed
  4. Zhang J, Le G, Larochelle D, Pasick R, Sawaya GF, Sarkar U, Centola D. Facts or stories? How to use social media for cervical cancer prevention: A multi-method study of the effects of sender type and content type on increased message sharing. Prev Med. 2019 09; 126:105751.
    View on PubMed
  5. Le GM, Radcliffe K, Lyles C, Lyson HC, Wallace B, Sawaya G, Pasick R, Centola D, Sarkar U. Perceptions of cervical cancer prevention on Twitter uncovered by different sampling strategies. PLoS One. 2019; 14(2):e0211931.
    View on PubMed
  6. Joseph G, Lee R, Pasick RJ, Guerra C, Schillinger D, Rubin S. Effective communication in the era of precision medicine: A pilot intervention with low health literacy patients to improve genetic counseling communication. Eur J Med Genet. 2019 May; 62(5):357-367.
    View on PubMed
  7. Jih J, Nguyen MP, Ly I, Tsoh JY, Le GM, Woo K, Chan E, Gildengorin G, Stewart SL, Burke A, Pasick R, McPhee SJ, Nguyen TT. The Role of Physician Recommendation in Colorectal Cancer Screening Receipt Among Immigrant Chinese Americans. J Immigr Minor Health. 2018 Dec; 20(6):1483-1489.
    View on PubMed
  8. Ozanne E, Karliner LS, Tice JA, Haas JS, Livaudais-Toman J, Pasick RJ, Kaplan CP. An Intervention Tool to Increase Patient-Physician Discussion of Lifestyle Risk Factors for Breast Cancer. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2019 11; 28(11):1468-1475.
    View on PubMed
  9. Hiatt RA, Sibley A, Fejerman L, Glantz S, Nguyen T, Pasick R, Palmer N, Perkins A, Potter MB, Somsouk M, Vargas RA, van 't Veer LJ, Ashworth A. The San Francisco Cancer Initiative: A Community Effort To Reduce The Population Burden Of Cancer. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018 01; 37(1):54-61.
    View on PubMed
  10. Cheng JKY, Guerra C, Pasick RJ, Schillinger D, Luce J, Joseph G. Cancer genetic counseling communication with low-income Chinese immigrants. J Community Genet. 2018 Jul; 9(3):263-276.
    View on PubMed
  11. Joseph G, Pasick RJ, Schillinger D, Luce J, Guerra C, Cheng JKY. Erratum to: Information Mismatch: Cancer Risk Counseling with Diverse Underserved Patients. J Genet Couns. 2017 10; 26(5):1105.
    View on PubMed
  12. Nguyen KH, Pasick RJ, Stewart SL, Kerlikowske K, Karliner LS. Disparities in abnormal mammogram follow-up time for Asian women compared with non-Hispanic white women and between Asian ethnic groups. Cancer. 2017 Sep 15; 123(18):3468-3475.
    View on PubMed
  13. Joseph G, Pasick RJ, Schillinger D, Luce J, Guerra C, Cheng JKY. Information Mismatch: Cancer Risk Counseling with Diverse Underserved Patients. J Genet Couns. 2017 Oct; 26(5):1090-1104.
    View on PubMed
  14. Nguyen TT, Tsoh JY, Woo K, Stewart SL, Le GM, Burke A, Gildengorin G, Pasick RJ, Wang J, Chan E, Fung LC, Jih J, McPhee SJ. Colorectal Cancer Screening and Chinese Americans: Efficacy of Lay Health Worker Outreach and Print Materials. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Mar; 52(3):e67-e76.
    View on PubMed
  15. Stewart SL, Kaplan CP, Lee R, Joseph G, Karliner L, Livaudais-Toman J, Pasick RJ. Validation of an Efficient Screening Tool to Identify Low-Income Women at High Risk for Hereditary Breast Cancer. Public Health Genomics. 2016; 19(6):342-351.
    View on PubMed
  16. Pasick RJ, Joseph G, Stewart S, Kaplan C, Lee R, Luce J, Davis S, Marquez T, Nguyen T, Guerra C. Effective Referral of Low-Income Women at Risk for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer to Genetic Counseling: A Randomized Delayed Intervention Control Trial. Am J Public Health. 2016 Oct; 106(10):1842-8.
    View on PubMed
  17. Tsoh JY, Sentell T, Gildengorin G, Le GM, Chan E, Fung LC, Pasick RJ, Stewart S, Wong C, Woo K, Burke A, Wang J, McPhee SJ, Nguyen TT. Healthcare Communication Barriers and Self-Rated Health in Older Chinese American Immigrants. J Community Health. 2016 08; 41(4):741-52.
    View on PubMed
  18. Jih J, Le G, Woo K, Tsoh JY, Stewart S, Gildengorin G, Burke A, Wong C, Chan E, Fung LC, Yu F, Pasick R, McPhee SJ, Nguyen TT. Educational Interventions to Promote Healthy Nutrition and Physical Activity Among Older Chinese Americans: A Cluster-Randomized Trial. Am J Public Health. 2016 Jun; 106(6):1092-8.
    View on PubMed
  19. Kaplan CP, Nápoles A, Davis S, Lopez M, Pasick RJ, Livaudais-Toman J, Pérez-Stable EJ. Latinos and Cancer Information: Perspectives of Patients, Health Professionals and Telephone Cancer Information Specialists. J Health Dispar Res Pract. 2016; 9(2):154-167.
    View on PubMed
  20. Tieu L, Sarkar U, Schillinger D, Ralston JD, Ratanawongsa N, Pasick R, Lyles CR. Barriers and Facilitators to Online Portal Use Among Patients and Caregivers in a Safety Net Health Care System: A Qualitative Study. J Med Internet Res. 2015 Dec 03; 17(12):e275.
    View on PubMed

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