UC Davis researcher chosen to serve on national cancer health disparities panels

Marlene von Friederich-Fitzwater © UC Regents
Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater

Posted June 16, 2010

Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, assistant professor of hematology and oncology and director of the UC Davis Cancer Center's Outreach Research and Education Program, is being recognized nationally for her innovative work to reduce cancer health disparities.

Von Friederichs-Fitzwater has been appointed to the national advisory board of the Education Network to Advance Cancer Clinical Trials (ENACCT), a community-based organization in Bethesda, Md., dedicated to improving access to cancer clinical trials through education and collaboration with communities, health-care providers and researchers.

In this capacity, von Friederichs-Fitzwater will introduce the cancer peer navigator program she developed, which links specially-trained cancer survivors with newly diagnosed cancer patients as they enter treatment and survivorship.

Minorities are severely underrepresented in clinical trials, a disparity that limits treatment potential for patients, and also limits researchers' ability to develop targeted therapies. The hope is that the peer navigator program can be utilized to improve recruitment of underrepresented groups into cancer clinical trials and serve as a national model.

In addition, the board recognized von Friederichs-Fitzwater for her role as a co-chair of the UC Davis Cancer Center-Sacramento State University Partnership, a collaboration that engages community groups in addressing cancer health disparities. The partnership, which last year launched a hepatitis C awareness campaign aimed at young people interested in body piercing and tattooing, also plans to work with community groups to increase awareness of the importance of cancer clinical trials.

The UC Davis Cancer Center

UC Davis Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center that cares for 9,000 adults and children with cancer each year from throughout the Central Valley and inland Northern California. Its Outreach Research and Education Program works to eliminate ethnic disparities in cancer region-wide. Click here to learn more.

Additionally, von Friederichs-Fitzwater has been asked to serve on the national LiveSTRONG Alliance Cancer Centers Working Group, part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, to focus on improving cancer outcomes for adolescents and young adults (ages 15 to 39).

In this role, she will be involved at the national level and within the UC system to find interventions that improve treatment adherence rates and survival among young people with cancer. Von Friederichs-Fitzwater chairs the UC Davis Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Advisory Board, which plans, delivers and evaluates cancer prevention, patient support and outreach to this often-neglected group.

"The goal of the work group is to eventually create Young Adult Cancer Centers of Excellence," she said. "This will mean great opportunities in terms of building a stronger program here."