California Consortium for Cancer Health Equity Symposium

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center logo
Chanita Hughes Halbert portait

Symposium Co-Director: Dr. Chanita Hughes Halbert serves as the Associate Director for Cancer Equity at USC Norris, and is the Vice Dean of Research and Professor in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at Keck School of Medicine. She is a nationally recognized leader in cancer prevention and minority health research. She has dedicated her career to reducing the disparities in cancer outcomes that affect patients from underrepresented communities, with a primary focus on African American communities. Among her many achievements, she has identified sociocultural, psychological, genetic and environmental determinants of cancer health disparities and translates this information into interventions to improve health equity among racially and ethnically diverse populations, as well as other medically underserved groups. For her many contributions, Hughes Halbert was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2017.

Loretta Erhunmwunsee portrait

Symposium Co-Director: Dr. Loretta Erhunmwunsee, MD, is a surgeon-scientist at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California. She splits her time between surgically treating patients with thoracic malignancies and researching health inequity. These interests come together in her effort to build evidence that structural inequities lead to thoracic oncologic disparities. Dr. Erhunmwunsee attended Emory University for her undergraduate education before completing her medical education at Harvard Medical School. She went on to complete a general and thoracic surgical residency at Duke University and has been developing her research and surgical practice at City of Hope since her graduation. Dr. Erhunmwunsee serves as Associate Professor at City of Hope in the departments of Surgery and in Population Sciences.

Caryn Lerman portait

Dr.  Caryn Lerman, PhD is USC Distinguished Professor and H. Leslie and Elaine S. Hoffman Cancer Research Chair, Associate Dean for Cancer Programs, and Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Southern California. She has over two decades of experience conducting cancer research that bridges the fields of neuroscience, pharmacology, genetics, and behavioral science. A major unifying focus of this work has been on the biological determinants of cancer risk behaviors. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Lerman has served as a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, the National Human Genome Research Advisory Council, and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse Advisory Council. She is a past President of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and Chair of the NCI Cancer Centers Review Committee. 

John Carpten portrait

Dr. John D. Carpten, Ph.D. is the Director of City of Hope’s National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, director of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope and chief scientific officer. Dr. Carpten provides overall executive leadership and strategic direction for research at City of Hope. Dr. Carpten has been a national leader in health disparities research and has been a tireless advocate and key voice for reaching underserved populations, ending disparities in cancer outcomes and care, and building a more diverse workforce in cancer research. In 2022, President Joe Biden appointed Dr. Carpten as the first African-American chair of the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Advisory Board, a distinguished post that helps set the national cancer research policy agenda.

Laura Gottlieb portrait

Dr. Laura Gottlieb, MD, MPH, is a Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF. A former National Health Services Scholar and safety-net family physician with fellowship training in social determinants of health, Dr. Gottlieb now serves as Principal Investigator on multiple quantitative and qualitative projects examining the integration of social and medical care services. These projects range from large randomized trials on specific interventions undertaken in clinical settings to projects that explore the scope of this rapidly evolving field, including by characterizing the payment, technology, and workforce foundation for care integration. She is the founding director of the Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN), a national research acceleration and translation institute supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that brings together researchers across the U.S. to synthesize, disseminate, and catalyze research at the intersection of social and medical care.

Brian Rivers portrait

Dr. Brian Rivers, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine and Director of the Cancer Health Equity Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). Dr. Rivers is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in cancer disparities research and currently serves as a member of the NIH National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NACMHD). Dr. Rivers is a behavioral scientist with a broad background in implementation science and public health, and his specific program of research is focused on addressing prostate cancer disparities among African-Americans and exploring the role of novel communication and placed-based interventions, such as mobile health technology. Dr. Rivers has developed several mobile health applications (apps) to assist with the delivery of salient and tailored cancer information to African- Americans through psycho-educational interventions.

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati portrait

Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD is Associate Dean for Community Initiatives at the Keck School of Medicine (KSOM), Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Distinguished Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences at USC. Dr. Baezconde-Garbanati is an expert in cancer disparities research with diverse populations, in developing culturally specific effective cancer prevention interventions, and in engaging at risk populations in community-based participatory research. Her innovative and transdisciplinary video, called the “Tamale Lesson”, has transformed the way we deliver cancer knowledge through narrative to populations suffering disparities. Dr. Baezconde-Garbanati is well-know nationally and internationally for her research and for her bidirectional model, connecting community scientists, citizen scientists, community health workers and promotores de salud with academia.

Jennifer Tsui portait

Dr. Jennifer Tsui, PhD, is the inaugural NCCC Director for Cancer Care Delivery Research and Implementation Science, responsible for fostering research that improves patient, clinician, and organizational factors that influence cancer care delivery and facilitates the uptake of evidence-based practice and research into regular use by practitioners and policymakers. Dr. Tsui focuses her research on reducing inequities in cancer prevention, cancer care quality, and outcomes through implementation of evidence-based strategies in diverse communities and health care settings. Her recent work also utilizes cancer registry information, population-based surveys, geographic/spatial data, and Medicaid claims to understand multilevel influences on patterns of care and care quality for cancer patients. She has worked in cancer prevention and control at the local, national, and international levels, including at the CDC and WHO.

smiling woman

Dr. Narissa Nonzee, Ph.D., is a health services researcher and assistant professor in the Division of Health Equities within the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope. Dr. Nonzee’s research focuses on disparities in cancer care and outcomes in underserved populations and safety net settings. Her work explores multilevel determinants of cancer-related behaviors and community-partnered interventions to improve the prevention and early detection of cancers. Her current research focuses on colorectal cancer screening and human papillomavirus vaccination, particularly among racial/ethnic minority populations. The goal of Dr. Nonzee’s research is to improve access to care, health outcomes and health equity among populations disproportionately impacted by cancer.

Andy Lee portrait

Dr. Wei-An (Andy) Lee is the Director of Specialty Care at the Los Angeles General Medical Center, the largest medical center in the Los Angeles County Healthcare Network. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Endocrinology at LAC+USC Medical Center in 2007 and remained as a full-time faculty at the Keck School of Medicine. In 2013 when LA County needed to rapidly implement the Affordable Care Act, he was recruited to transform specialty care from a fragmented, volume-based organization into an integrated value-based system. In 2016, he built a Medical Innovation Incubator which provided a new model for designing and accelerating innovation within the second largest government-run healthcare system in the United States. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was also a leader in driving solutions within virtual healthcare throughout the LA County Enterprise.

Howard Hu portrait

Dr. Howard Hu, MD, MPH, ScD, is the Flora L. Thornton Chair of the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, at Keck School of Medicine of USC. He is a physician-scientist, internist and preventive medicine specialist, with a doctoral degree in epidemiology. Since 1990, Dr. Hu has led multi-institutional and international teams of scientists, students and fellows devoted to investigating the environmental, nutritional, social, psychosocial, genetic and epigenetic determinants of chronic disease and impaired child development in birth cohort and aging cohort studies in the U.S., Mexico, India, China, and elsewhere around the world. Dr. Hu has advanced a number of innovative initiatives involving healthy cities, big data for population health, the integration of population health into primary care, social entrepreneurship, and, working with partners around the world, the global agenda of addressing health inequities.

Meghan Mckenzie portrait

Meghan McKenzie works in Patient Inclusion and Health Equity in Genentech’s Chief Diversity Office. She develops strategies to drive greater inclusion of racial and ethnically representative patient populations in clinical research and to advance health equity. Gaining patient, clinician and community insights early in program development is integral to developing what is important to patients and improving access to medicines and treatments for all patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, socioeconomic status and ability/disability. Meghan has over 25 years of clinical development experience working at sites and in industry, and spanning multiple diseases, including oncology, ophthalmology, immunology, neurology, infectious and rare diseases.

smiling woman

Dr. Christine “Chris” Tarver, DNP, RN, serves as Executive Director Professional Practice and Nursing Excellence at City of Hope National Medical Center. Dr. Tarver,  has 30 years’ experience as a registered nurse, focusing on healthcare quality improvement, the patient and family experience, and promoting the profession of nursing. Dr. Tarver has spent the past 18 years in nursing administration. Chris shares duties as one of the COVID-19 Screening Site Rounding Leaders and has written or co-written hospital policies and procedures to support mitigation of the pandemic.  Recently, was a medical editor for Beat the Coronavirus: Strategies for Staying Safe and Coping with the New Normal during the COVID-19 Pandemic, published in May 2020.  Chris is also the Nursing Practice Director for American Nurses Association\California. 

nancy clifton hawkins portrait

Nancy Clifton-Hawkins has served City of Hope since 2013 and is responsible for the Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategies development process. She has worked as a health educator at the County of Orange and has also served in voluntary positions with the Orange County Breastfeeding Coalition, the Brea Family Resources Center Advisory Council and the National Council for Health Education Credentialing. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University, where her disciplines were Health Promotion, Education and Global Health.

smiling doctor portrait

Dr. Amy Cummings is Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She received her medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine of USC where she graduated with honors. She completed her internal medicine residency, hematology and oncology fellowship, and PhD in Bioengineering at UCLA. During her training, she served as Chief Fellow for the Hematology and Oncology Fellowship and co-Chief of the STAR Program as well as received the Olga Levin Inspiration Award in 2016 and national and international young investigator awards for lung cancer in 2019 and 2023. She currently is an Associate Director at the NCI-designated Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center focusing on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. She runs clinical trials in early-stage lung cancer, works to increase equitable access to lung cancer screening and clinical trials,  and has published extensively on correlative work in non-small cell lung cancer, particularly the interactions among human leukocyte antigen supertypes and mutational landscape.

Yesenia Osuna portrait

smiling group photo at CSC Health

Jack Cheng, JD, is the Chief Operations Officer, for the historic Chinatown Service Center. Chinatown Service Center started off as a small group of community volunteers who recognized the need to address the problems of Chinese immigrants. In 1971, CSC became an established nonprofit organization. CSC assists over 30,000 unique clients each year through 150,000 touch points, providing services such as healthcare, financial planning, and care for the youth! CSC strives to help their local community thrive and live a better quality of life.


Sharon Hudson portrait

Dr. Sharon Hudson, PhD, is the Director of Implementation Science and Evaluation at AltaMed Institute for Health Equity. Dr. Hudson has a long history of program evaluation, healthcare equity research and behavioral science interventions and investigations. She has worked for the CDC, the Health Research Association, Kaiser Permanente and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She is also a USC alumna, completing her Masters and PhD degrees at USC.