Laura Fejerman, renowned breast cancer researcher at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been inducted as the inaugural holder of the Placer Breast Cancer Endowed Chair. Endowed chairs are prestigious academic positions that come with funds to support innovative research.

The endowed chair position was created by the Placer Breast Cancer Foundation. The foundation was formed in 2005 by breast cancer survivors and Placer County residents Carol Garcia and Teri Munger.

The initial goal of the foundation was to raise $1.5 million to establish a breast cancer endowed chair at UC Davis.

After reaching that goal, the foundation continued to raise funds and donated an additional $275,000 to support efforts to fight breast cancer in the Sacramento region. The foundation continues its work to fight breast cancer and promote education and outreach throughout Placer and Sacramento counties.

“Our board couldn’t be happier about the appointment of Dr. Laura Fejerman to the Placer Breast Cancer Endowed Chair,” Garcia said during the investiture ceremony held in 2023 at the cancer center’s James E. Goodnight Auditorium. “We are committed to continuing our fundraising activities and appreciate the monetary and volunteer community support over the years.”

Fejerman is a genetic epidemiologist, studying the genetic contributions to breast cancer in diverse populations and how to best predict risk for specific subtypes of the disease. She is the associate director for the cancer center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement. In addition, she is co-director of the Women’s Cancer Care and Research Program (WeCARE) and co-director of the Latinos United for Cancer Health Advancement (LUCHA) initiative. All the programs are within the cancer center and have the core mission of reducing the cancer burden and achieving cancer health equity.

“The endowment of a chair ensures we can continue this important research and improve outcomes for patients,” Fejerman said. “I take the responsibility of being the steward of this generous donation very seriously, and I thank the Placer Breast Cancer Foundation for this tremendous investment to advance our breast cancer research.”

Fejerman’s past research established a relationship between genetic ancestry and risk of breast cancer among U.S. Latinas, identifying a change in the DNA associated with a lower risk of developing the disease. Funds from the Placer Breast Cancer Endowed Chair will be used to conduct additional research to increase understanding of how this specific variation in the DNA affects breast cancer risk, which could help advance breast cancer prevention and treatment.

Originally from Buenos Aires, Fejerman left Argentina in 1998 to study in England. She earned her master’s degree in human biology and her doctorate in biological anthropology at the University of Oxford.