NEWS | April 27, 2011

Komen honors UC Davis Cancer Center dynamo

Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater to accept prestigious award at Race for the Cure


Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, a tireless researcher and champion in the effort to reduce cancer disparities, has won the 2011 Joyce Raley Teel Award for outstanding dedication to breast health in the Sacramento Valley.

Von Friederichs-Fitzwater, professor in the Department of Hematology at UC Davis and director of the Outreach Research and Education Program at UC Davis Cancer Center, will receive the award May 7 during the 15th annual Race for the Cure at Cal Expo in front of an estimated 22,000 race participants.

“I am humbled by this nomination and grateful to receive this prestigious award,” Von Friederichs-Fitzwater said. “And I am honored to follow in the footsteps of the women who have received this award in the past.”

Previous recipients of the Joyce Raley Teel Award include Helen Chew, an oncologist specializing in breast cancer at UC Davis, and Edna Campbell, who played with Sacramento Monarchs, a Women’s National Basketball Association team, and who received her treatment for breast cancer at UC Davis Cancer Center.

Von Friederichs-Fitzwater, a cancer survivor herself, has spearheaded numerous projects to decrease the breast cancer burden in communities where incidence and death rates are disproportionately high. Among them are:

  • Mother’s Wisdom Breast Health Program, developed with a local Indian health organization. The educational and culturally sensitive outreach instrument increased mammography rates to 97 percent in a pilot study and is now being expanded to reach women in 25 California tribes. 
  • Expansion of the WeCARE! Community-based Breast Cancer Peer Navigator Program, which links newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with specially trained breast cancer survivors, to four rural counties with high breast cancer incidence and low screening rates.
  • Expansion of the UC Davis Cancer Center’s WeCARE! Community-based Breast Cancer Peer Navigator Program to Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento, and, beginning in July 2011, Fremont-Rideout Cancer Center in Marysville/Yuba City.
  • Planned launch in fall 2011 of a Breast Cancer and Sexual Minority Women’s Program to address the special needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual women diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Marlene is transforming health care using both technology and compassion,” said Frederick J. Meyers, executive associate dean at the UC Davis School of Medicine. “In addition, she is a master educator who is instilling her values into the next generations of health professionals.”

For more information about cancer health disparities research at UC Davis Cancer Center, visit To register for or to make a donation to Komen Race for the Cure, visit

UC Davis Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute- designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its top specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 9,000 adults and children every year, and offer patients access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program includes more than 280 scientists at UC Davis and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The unique partnership, the first between a major cancer center and national laboratory, has resulted in the discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis is collaborating with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer-care services. For more information, visit