Corning Incorporated and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announced today that Dr. Francisco Sanchez-Vega, PhD, has been awarded the Corning-MSK Health Equity Research Fellowship, a two-year grant that funds research into the broad disparities in cancer outcomes for patients in historically underserved communities.
Sponsored by Corning’s Office of Racial Equality and Social Unity (ORESU), the fellowship will allow Dr. Sanchez-Vega, an assistant attending computational oncologist in MSK’s Colorectal Cancer Service in the Department of Surgery, to research the genomic, clinical, and socioeconomic causes behind the disproportionately negative outcomes of colorectal cancer in Black communities across the United States.
According to Dr. Carol Brown, MD, FACS, Senior Vice President and Chief Health Equity Officer at MSK, dedicated funding is essential to understanding cancer-outcome disparities and how the medical community can address them. These funding opportunities are also critical for developing clinician-scientists who are early in their careers – and for ensuring that they continue their careers in the medical field.
“This funding will allow Dr. Sanchez-Vega to explore some of the factors behind the higher colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates experienced by the Black community, and his findings will help identify effective interventions to overcome these disparities and advance health equity in cancer care,” said Dr. Brown. “With the right science, the right social support, and the right tools, we can improve people’s lives and health.”
“I am honored to be selected for the Corning-MSK Health Equity Research Fellowship,” said Dr. Sanchez-Vega. “Colorectal cancer disproportionally affects the Black community, and this research grant will help us identify opportunities to intervene and close the gap in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality that has impacted this community for decades.”
Since its inception in 2020, Corning’s ORESU has partnered with organizations to find sustainable solutions that address disparities for those who have been institutionally disadvantaged. The fellowship provides an opportunity for Corning to extend its long-standing relationship with MSK’s world-class cancer center through MSK’s Office of Health Equity.
“ORESU’s healthcare initiative is built on the idea that communities are healthy when people receive quality healthcare they can trust,” said Dr. Millicent Ruffin, director, ORESU Community Affairs. “This grant directly enables research that will help provide quality healthcare to Black Americans by discovering barriers – and solutions – to these disparities and by making access to quality healthcare available for those who need it.”
“We’re very excited to work with MSK to address this critical need for health equity research,” said Dr. Michael Lappi, chief medical officer at Corning. “The medical community does not fully understand the factors that explain why historically underrepresented populations have higher incidences of cancer. Sponsoring this research draws attention to these disparities, and we hope its findings will also save lives.”
Bio and background about the recipient:
Dr. Francisco Sanchez-Vega, PhD, is an assistant attending computational oncologist in the Colorectal Cancer Service of MSK’s Department of Surgery. He is also a faculty member in the Computational Oncology Service in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. A native of Spain, Sanchez-Vega joined MSK as a post-doctoral researcher in 2015. He has been the head of Computational Biology in MSK’s Colorectal Cancer Research Center since 2019.
Dr. Sanchez-Vega will use the Corning-MSK Health Equity Research Fellowship to examine the genomic, clinical, and socioeconomic causes of disproportionally negative outcomes of colorectal cancer in Black patients in the United States.
Dr. Sanchez-Vega holds a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and statistics from The Johns Hopkins University.
Members of the Corning-MSK Health Equity Research Fellowship selection committee included:
- Dr. Michael Lappi, DO, PhD., FACOEM, Chief Medical Officer, Corning Incorporated
- Dr. Kia Swan-Moore, MD, MPH, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Corning Incorporated
- Dr. Millicent Ruffin, PhD, Director, Community Affairs, ORESU, Corning Incorporated
- Dr. Carol Brown, MD, FACS, Senior Vice President, Chief Health Equity Officer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Dr. Michelle Johnson, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Health Equity, Department of Medicine and Director of Clinical Cardiology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Dr. Tanya Trippett, MD, pediatric hematologic oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Dr. Anthony Daniyan, MD, medical oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Dr. Michael Tuttle, MD, Chief of the Endocrinology Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
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