Inaugural position to serve as catalyst for advancing breast cancer research
Laura Fejerman, renowned Latina 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 investiture ceremony was held Thursday, June 1 at the cancer center’s James E. Goodnight Auditorium.
The primary goal of the foundation was to raise $1.5 million to establish a breast cancer endowed chair at UC Davis. After reaching the 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. “We are committed to continuing our fundraising activities and appreciate the monetary and volunteer community support over the years.”
“Dr. Laura Fejerman’s innovative research is an inspiring example of how our school’s community of mission-driven researchers is at the forefront of advancing health equity,” Dean Murin said. “We thank you, Dr. Fejerman, for your leadership and groundbreaking work to help all women, especially those in low-income, vulnerable communities, reduce cancer risk factors and increase access to leading-edge breast cancer treatments in the Sacramento region.”
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 also 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 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 breast cancer risk, identifying a change in the DNA that associated with a lower risk of developing the disease. Funds from the Placer Breast Cancer Endowed Chair will be used to further understand how this specific variation in the DNA affects breast cancer risk, which could help advance breast cancer prevention and treatment.
Lara presided over the ceremony and said Fejerman was a terrific choice for the important position.
“We are proud of Dr. Fejerman’s research,” Lara said. “She is furthering our knowledge of the relevance that genetic diversity plays not only in the development of breast cancer risk generally, but also for specific subtypes of the disease.”
Lara added that Fejerman is also doing critical work in the community to ensure cancer prevention programs are effectively implemented in the cancer center’s diverse region.
Originally from Buenos Aires, Fejerman left Argentina in 1998 to study in England. She earned her master’s in human biology and her doctorate in biological anthropology at the University of Oxford.
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.