USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center has appointed internationally recognized cancer researcher and advocate Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD, MPH, as the first associate director of community outreach and engagement. Baezconde-Garbanati will leverage the cancer center’s resources to engage the community in cancer prevention strategies, screening and treatment, including participating in clinical trials.
“The mission of my new role is to work toward reducing the cancer burden within our catchment area, including the local communities surrounding the USC Health Sciences Campus in East Los Angeles,” Baezconde-Garbanati said. “We’ve started by launching a comprehensive assessment of the communities we serve so we can identify their cancer-related needs and the best mechanisms to address health disparities.”
A professor of preventive medicine and associate dean for community initiatives at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Baezconde-Garbanati has devoted her career to promoting health equity in vulnerable populations. Much of her research and advocacy has focused on women’s cancers and tobacco use prevention. Her recent efforts include an educational campaign to increase cervical cancer screening and human papillomavirus vaccination among Latinas in the Boyle Heights area. She has also worked on advocating for a ban on e-cigarette use in public spaces in Los Angeles.
“Dr. Baezconde-Garbanati is passionate about reducing the incidence of cancer in diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups,” said Peggy Farnham, PhD, interim director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the Keck School. “We are delighted that she will be leading our efforts to promote cancer prevention and reduce barriers to cancer care in our community.”
Baezconde-Garbanati, who earned an MPH and PhD in public health-community health services from the University of California, Los Angeles, joined the Keck School faculty in 1997. She is the director of the Center for Health Equity in the Americas, which is dedicated to exchanging information and research throughout the Latino Pacific Rim, and is a member of the Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Research at USC.
USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the eight original comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For more than 40 years, the cancer center has led the way in cancer research and treatment, including new methods of prevention, detection and therapy. In 2018, USC Norris was the highest ranked cancer care provider in Southern California, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals survey.
— Erica Rheinschild