Newswise — BOSTON––  Karen Burns White, Deputy Associate Director of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s (DF/HCC) Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (IECD) since 2001, has been honored by the Massachusetts Medical Society as the 2017 recipient of the society’s Reducing Health Disparities Award. The honor recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to reducing health disparities due to race, socioeconomic status, age, education, or sexual orientation.

“It is rewarding to know that the work you are called to do and enjoy doing has been able to make meaningful and significant impact in the area of cancer disparities,” said Burns White. “I am very proud of the work that we have done at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and this award is representative of an entire team of dedicated individuals who are determined to reduce health disparities.” 

Burns White is specifically being recognized for her efforts with the DF/HCC IECD, which works across seven institutions to improve minority awareness and participation in Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s research activities. IECD also works by developing the Faith Based Cancer Disparities Network and the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experience (CURE) Program, which enhances the pipeline of trainees interested in cancer research. These efforts are significant contributions to Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s efforts to reach out to minority populations and reduce disparities in cancer care.

The Faith Based Cancer Disparities Network is a collaboration of nine churches in the Boston area with a collective membership of 10,000. The program has engaged church leaders in expanding Harvard’s reach into minority communities with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of the interventions that make a difference for minorities. The CURE program creates opportunities for underrepresented students to engage in cancer research experience, with the hope of increasing the number of minority health care providers and scientists. The program has had great success, with eight of out every ten students that participate in the program going on to pursue careers in biomedical sciences.

“I love my job because I am able to be a servant leader who is able to empower both individuals and communities to identify their needs, build capacity and take action,” Burns White said. “We have made strides in increasing awareness, and helping to encourage the demystification of cancer. However, there are many additional opportunities to eliminate the burden of cancer, especially for underserved communities. The progress we have made is encouraging, but there is much work to be done and I am committed to continuing this positive progression.”

A graduate of Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in health information management, Burns White received her master of science degree in health care services from Lesley University.

She is a member of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Advisory Committee and a member of the Advisory Committee of the College of Nursing and Exercise Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. From 2008-2012, she served as a board member and chair of the Grants Committee of the Massachusetts affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for CURE Foundation. Burns White has been the recipient of several awards for her contributions.

About DF/HCC & DF/HCC’s Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (IECD) Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, was founded to integrate and build upon the collective talent and resources of the Harvard cancer research community. More than 1,100 cancer researchers across five Boston academic medical institutions—Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital—and two Harvard Schools—the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—combined their scientific strengths to create a rich, collaborative environment that transcends institutional borders. As one of the largest cancer research enterprises in the world, DF/HCC is committed to maximizing the impact of its research for cancer patients and ultimately realizing a world without cancer. In 2001, DF/HCC created the Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (IECD) to provide a centralized and coordinated structure for addressing the complexities of cancer disparities – it connects across all seven DF/HCC member institutions to advance DF/HCC’s commitment to reducing cancer disparities and was among the nation’s first integrated, inter-institutional, multi-pronged approaches with this goal. The IECD has many facets, but one primary goal: to eliminate racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in cancer prevention, outcomes, and care.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: From achieving the first remissions in childhood cancer with chemotherapy in 1948, to developing the very latest new therapies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of the world’s leading centers of cancer research and treatment.  It is the only center ranked in the top 4 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals for both adult and pediatric cancer care.

Dana-Farber sits at the center of a wide range of collaborative efforts to reduce the burden of cancer through scientific inquiry, clinical care, education, community engagement, and advocacy.  Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center provides the latest in cancer care for adults; Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center for children. The Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center unites the cancer research efforts of five Harvard academic medical centers and two graduate schools, while Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care provides high quality cancer treatment in communities outside Boston’s Longwood Medical Area.  

Dana-Farber is dedicated to a unique, 50/50 balance between cancer research and care, and much of the Institute’s work is dedicated to translating the results of its discovery into new treatments for patients locally and around the world.  

About Massachusetts Medical Society: The Massachusetts Medical Society, with some 25,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education providing accredited and certified activities across the globe for physicians and other health care professionals.  Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. For more information please visit,, or

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