Professor Honored for Work on Cancer Disparities

Posted on: October 20, 2017 Topics: alumni news, Awards, black women’s health study, breast cancer, cancer, health disparities, slone epidemiology center

Julie Palmer thumbnailJulie Palmer (SPH’85), professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Slone Epidemiology Center, was awarded the 2017 Distinguished Lecture on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities at the tenth annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. The conference was held in Atlanta from September 25 to 28.

Funded by Susan G. Komen, the award recognizes an investigator whose novel and significant work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer health disparities.

Palmer, who is also associate director for population sciences at the BU-BMC Cancer Center, received the award before delivering her presentation, “Reducing Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality: Modifiable Etiologic Factors, Risk Prediction, and Outcomes.”

One of the original designers and implementers of the Slone’s Black Women’s Health Study, Palmer has served as a leader of the study since its launch in 1995. A major goal of Palmer’s research is the reduction of breast cancer mortality in young African American women by identifying the modifiable factors influencing the development of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, hormone receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. Her research has shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of ER-negative breast cancer, and that, in the absence of breastfeeding, having had more children is associated with increased risk.

Palmer holds a BA from Brown University, an MPH from SPH, and an ScD in epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“I am honored to accept this award,” Palmer said at the conference. “It is my hope that my work will lead to prevention and earlier detection of breast cancer in African American women, and thus to a reduction in the existing disparity in mortality from breast cancer.”

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication, and collaboration.

Michelle Samuels


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