A Dedicated Past, a Promising Future: Cancer Symposium Shines Spotlight on ZSFG Excellence
By Karen Gehrman | HDFCCC Communications | February 12, 2020
For organizer Terence Friedlander, MD, Chief of Hematology-Oncology at ZSFG, the symposium was an opportunity to highlight current cancer research centered around the hospital's unique patient population, as well as the challenges and opportunities the ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse community provides. “We serve a wide variety of patients and we see a lot of different types of cancers. Getting researchers together in the same room together is critical to understanding a lot of the barriers our patients face, and hopefully fostering more collaborative research.”
A History of Addressing Disparities
The relationship between ZSFG and UCSF goes back to 1873 when the City and County of San Francisco partnered with the University of California to provide health care services and train doctors. Today, UCSF cancer physicians train and conduct research at ZSFG, where the diverse population allows for extension of services to the most at-risk communities.
The symposium's agenda addressed healthy equity in current cancer, patient navigation and survivorship resources, and key cancers more commonly treated at ZSFG. Speakers and participants identified a range of approaches that could be aligned to address disparities, from tailoring survivorship materials to the language and literacy level of their audiences to examining how best to grow the field of disparities research.
Over 2,000 UCSF physicians and staff from all four UCSF professional schools and the Division of Graduate Studies work alongside 3,500 employees of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
ZSFG is one of UCSF’s primary teaching hospitals, where medical residents train under UCSF faculty and city staff. A comprehensive medical center, ZSFG serves some 100,000 patients per year and provides 20 percent of the city’s inpatient care.
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A panel discussion addressed how to elevate the field of disparities research, such as serving on review panels for trials, or providing mentorship to younger faculty so that awareness of disparities are woven into all facets of cancer research. The afternoon presentations touched on HPV and HIV-related virally mediated cancers. ZSFG has been a world leader in HIV research and care since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and research presented offered promising solutions for low resource settings abroad which could be relevant to ZSFG patients. Patient advocate Antwan Capla of Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness San Francisco reported on the success of their efforts to bolster self-advocacy and empowerment among the Sickle Cell Disease community. Ward Hagar, MD, director the Sickle Cell Disease Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, echoed the importance of proactively managing this disease, as it carries an increased risk for hematologic cancers.
At the conclusion of the symposium, HDFCCC president Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, announced he would create two awards totally $150K to stimulate research that helps the particular needs of patients at ZSFG. RFAs for these awards will be released later this month. With many multi-disciplinary programs spread across UCSF locations and departments, campus-specific events like the ZSFG Cancer Symposium, the Parnassus Cancer Research Symposia, and a recently organized mini-symposium at the VA, can help connect faculty and resources, encourage collaboration, and shine a light on some of UCSF's hidden gems of cancer research and patient care.
Disparities Research: In their own words
Rena Pasick, DrPH, Former director of the Office of Community Engagement at HDFCCC
Nynikka Palmer, MD, MPH, on patient feedback from the SFCAN Prostate Cancer Task Force
Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH, uses social media and atypical partnerships to reach her target audiences
Barbara Cicerelli, MPA, Cancer Navigation Program Director at ZSFG
A birds-eye view: Participants report via Twitter