Veena Shankaran, MD, has been named co-director of Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, a health care economics and policy group based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Shankaran will collaborate with institute director Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD, on strategic planning, scientific priority setting, fundraising and organizational development.
Shankaran also will continue to treat patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where she serves as a gastrointestinal medical oncologist, and she will conduct research through Fred Hutch’s public health sciences and clinical research divisions.
Shankaran is recognized for her contributions to financial toxicity research.
“I went into this research because I kept hearing about the financial and social devastation people were going through,” Shankaran told HemOnc Today. “Patients aren’t able to work, and then they lose their sense of purpose. They’re not able to pay bills or pay for child care. They’re going into major debt — even bankruptcy. And there’s all of this shame about discussing finances.”
The Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research will continue to address these issues, she said.
“By clearly articulating the relationship between cancer diagnosis, financial hardship and even extreme events like bankruptcy, we will be able to target specific interventions to prevent and reduce those events,” she said. “As co-director of our health economics research group, I will lead the team in creating tools to gauge patients’ risk for financial distress, provide patients and families transparent information about out-of-pocket costs and establish financial navigation programs as part of comprehensive cancer care.”
The previous institute co-director — Gary H. Lyman, MD, MPH — will take on a new role as the institute’s senior lead of health care quality and policy. Lyman also will continue his research as a member of the cancer prevention program in Fred Hutch’s public health sciences division.