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Friedman named associate director for Community Science and Health Outcomes at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Jul. 2, 2020, 3:33 PM


by Tom Wilemon

Debra Friedman, MD, MS, E. Bronson Ingram Chair of Pediatric Oncology, is expanding her leadership role in improving cancer outcomes both within and beyond the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) catchment area. She has been named associate director of Community Science and Health Outcomes.

Debra Friedman, MD, MS

Although the title is new for Friedman, the mission is not. She serves as co-leader of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Health Outcomes and Control Research Program and has led regional initiatives and collaborations.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Friedman has accepted this senior leadership role at Vanderbilt-Ingram. She is an established leader in community science initiatives bringing new approaches to improve cancer outcomes and a successful track record in implementing them,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology, Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, director of VICC and holder of the Brock Family Directorship in Career Development.

Recently, Friedman answered a call from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to design interventions to address a health disparity for people in rural areas, where the death rate from cancer is higher than in urban areas. Her plan uses telehealth technology, allows community clinicians to consult with the VICC HOPE molecular tumor board and offers rural patients resources for self-care management. Her proposed research received funding for five years.

Friedman co-leads the Clinical Trials and Population Sciences Research Core for the NCI-funded Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State University Cancer Partnership and co-leads the community engagement research initiatives of the NCI-funded Southern Community Cohort Study.

In the associate director role, Friedman will be responsible for leading, managing and growing community-engaged research focused on cancer health outcomes throughout a large catchment area served by VICC. She will monitor cancer-relevant needs and work toward enhancing the impact of VICC to improve outcomes. She will also work with other NCI-designated cancer centers and with regional partners to address health disparities and to revise state and local policies with the aim of promoting community health.

“I am honored to serve in this new leadership role. I look forward to working with my colleagues at Vanderbilt and beyond to conduct community-engaged research, bringing discovery to and from the laboratory, clinic, and community to meet the greatest needs of our catchment area,” Friedman said.

Friedman will continue to serve as director of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. She is an internationally recognized expert in cancer survivorship who directs the Cancer Survivorship programs at VICC. Her research has contributed to an understanding of psychosocial, functional and physiologic long-term outcomes for childhood and adult cancer survivors, with contributions to surveillance guidelines and interventions to ameliorate adverse outcomes. She develops and leads clinical trials in Hodgkin lymphoma, retinoblastoma and survivorship.

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