When Gary Funamura was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the fall of 2012, his UC Davis oncology team presented him with two choices.
He could follow a conventional treatment course that included surgery with possible radiation or hormonal therapy down the road. Or he could join a clinical trial testing the use of chemotherapy plus hormone depletion therapy to attack cancer cells before the prostate was removed.
For Funamura, 59, the decision to go with Plan B was a “no-brainer.”
“I had done some research, and I knew I would get excellent follow-up care through the trial,” he says. “Frankly, I couldn’t see a downside.”
Regrettably, researchers say that Funamura’s enthusiasm about clinical trials is relatively rare — especially among Asian-Americans. Language barriers, mistrust of the medical system, and other cultural dynamics often create misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of cancer trials, discouraging participation and leading to underrepresentation of Asian-Americans.
One-fifth of Californians live in rural areas, but less than 10 percent of physicians practice there—making that portion of the state’s population more vulnerable to chronic conditions, hospitalizations and cancer deaths than those who live in cities.
Thomas Nesbitt ’75, M.D. ’79 is committed to changing these disparities through the power of technology. Nesbitt, UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances, is a prominent and pioneering leader in telehealth—a revolutionary technology that uses high-speed data links to connect rural patients with medical experts in urban hospitals.
Nesbitt and his wife Lisa DeAmicis ’76, who has committed her career to advancing the quality of life for seniors in the City of Davis, are also improving rural care health through philanthropy. During The Campaign for UC Davis they endowed a scholarship for medical students in UC Davis’ Rural-PRIME program to help train doctors who will practice primary care in rural areas.