AACR-funded Young Research Scientists Addressing Cancer Disparities


Roy Xiao, MD, MS
Resident Physician and Clinical Research Fellow
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

My research studies financial toxicity in medically underserved populations that results from less than transparent treatment pricing at hospitals. Understanding how to not only better control healthcare costs but also financially inform patients can help empower them as they make decisions regarding their health. Our underserved patients are not only less privileged but also oftentimes the sickest populations, and I believe it is important to support them not only with high-quality care, but also in an informed and financially sustainable fashion. I hope everyone, whether underrepresented or not, can picture themselves pursuing and achieving important work to advance the care of our cancer patients, and I hope that seeing the work that we’ve been able to achieve can help inspire future researchers to continue to pursue their passions.


Yuanyuan Fu, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Hawai‘i
Honolulu, Hawai‘i

My research identifies differences in gene expression profiles between Native Hawaiian and White colorectal tumors, which can help identify population-specific genetic variations between these two groups. This research helps resolve one of the most critical and pressing issues in disparities research, which is the lack of diverse genomic data. The underrepresentation of genetic samples from diverse populations has led to a gap in our understanding of how genetic factors influence health and disease. This type of research can fuel innovation in healthcare by uncovering new insights into the intersection of genetics, environment, and social determinants of health and advance personalized medicine to tailor healthcare to meet the unique needs of diverse populations. I call on our lawmakers and Congress to make health equity research a national priority—reducing health disparities is not just a healthcare issue, but a fundamental aspect of social justice and equity. Health disparities undermine our national values of fairness and equality. By investing in disparities research, we are committing to a healthier, more equitable future for all citizens.


Francisco Cartujano, MD
Research Assistant Professor
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, New York

I assessed the feasibility and acceptability of Actívatexto, a mobile intervention that promotes smoking cessation and physical activity among Latino adults. This intervention led to a 70 percent cessation rate and increased levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity among enrolled patients. This award is grounded in principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR). CBPR is a partnership approach that involves community members across all phases of research. Through this grant, I was able to continue working with an experienced, talented, and multidisciplinary community advisory board (CAB) to address smoking cessation and physical activity in the Latino community. The CAB has ensured that our research is appropriate, relevant, and meaningful to the Latino community. Additionally, as a Research Assistant Professor, mentoring and uplifting other underrepresented researchers is one of my personal and professional commitments. I am proud to say that the AACR-Genentech Cancer Disparities Research Fellowship has been a key element to the overall professional growth of other underrepresented individuals interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, helping them to continue their upward career trajectory in research and medicine.