Health disparities researcher named associate director for cancer equity at USC Norris
The University of Southern California has appointed Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD, as the first-ever associate director for cancer equity at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Hughes-Halbert also will serve as a professor and vice chair of research in the department of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. In her new roles, which she will assume July 1, Hughes-Halbert will work to advance equitable cancer prevention and care for the diverse patient population in Los Angeles and beyond.
Hughes-Halbert currently serves as a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and co-leader of the cancer control program at Medical University of South Carolina. She also is an AT&T distinguished endowed chair at Hollings Cancer Center and associate dean for assessment, evaluation and quality improvement at the Medical University of South Carolina.
As part of Women in Oncology’s “Women on the Move” series, Hughes-Halbert spoke with Healio about her reaction upon being selected for this new role, how her career has prepared her and her goals for the new position.
Healio: What was your reaction upon being selected for this new role?
Hughes-Halbert: I was honored and excited to be recruited to Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the department of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California. The faculty at USC are exceptional and are generating novel paradigm-changing discoveries in population health, clinical medicine and basic sciences that will transform preventive medicine and cancer care.
Healio: How has your career thus far prepared you for this role?
Hughes-Halbert: I have a breadth of administrative and scientific expertise through my leadership roles as associate director for education and training and co-program leader for Cancer Control at the Hollings Cancer Center at Medical University of South Carolina. Importantly, I have been at the forefront of minority health and cancer health disparities research and have been driving innovations in these areas. My team was among the first to receive extramural funding for community-based participatory research, and our center was one of five funded nationally to conduct precision medicine research within the context of minority men’s health. These programs have set the stage and drive priorities in minority health and cancer health disparities research.
Healio: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected cancer disparities across the oncology specialty?
Hughes-Halbert: The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think about the influence and impact of social determinants of health and how the places in which individuals live, work and receive health care impact racial disparities in disease risk and outcomes.
Healio: What are your goals as associate director for cancer equity at USC, and how will you achieve those goals?
Hughes-Halbert: My goal is to establish and enhance statewide partnerships to address disparities in cancer risk and outcomes among racial and ethnic minorities and individuals from other medically underserved groups. This can be accomplished through research – clinical and community-based initiatives that use a participatory framework for engaging diverse stakeholders in California that is based on population health impact and improvement. I am excited to work collaboratively with the director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the other associate directors to achieve this goal.
Healio: What is your hope for the oncology field during the next decade?
Hughes-Halbert: I hope the discoveries and advances being made now through more precise strategies for early detection, prevention and treatment will be more accessible to diverse communities and clinical settings so that individualized approaches for prevention, treatment and control are the standard of care regardless of the clinical setting in which care is provided.
For more information:
Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.