In 2017, Women Who Conquer Cancer (WWCC) awarded Catherine Handy Marshall, MD, MPH, a Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award (YIA) grant to explore the impact of cardiovascular disease risk factors on cancer outcomes. Three years after receiving the WWCC YIA, Dr. Handy Marshall is pursuing additional funding to expand the scope of her original project.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the advance of this work, clinical trials are starting to open again, and she is involved in new, promising studies. One such study involves the repurposing of a prostate cancer drug for the treatment of COVID-19.
Catherine Handy Marshall, MD, MPH
Without the initial funding from the WWCC YIA, Dr. Handy Marshall doubts she would be as advanced in her research or able to expand her initial findings to serve her patients.
“The WWCC YIA helped me forge new collaborations and pursue new projects that continue now, even as a junior faculty member,” she said.
Securing funds and collaborative support among colleagues to pursue research is often as challenging to young women as searching for new cancer treatments. Female researchers receive just $0.70 to every $1.00 their male counterparts receive.1
In addition to helping patients, creating funding specifically for women elevates diversity within the oncology research field.
“Unfortunately, racism and sexism exist in academic medicine the same way they exist in the rest of society, and I have not been immune to that throughout my time in academics,” said Dr. Handy Marshall.
WWCC creates a community for women to find support and mentorship, something Dr. Handy Marshall offers to her peers through her blog, Handy Advice.
“What became clear to me early on in my academic career was that students do not always fully understand the process, and that leads to missteps along the way,” said Dr. Handy Marshall. “The goal is to give everyone access to the same preparatory information. My hope is that by doing this, the playing field will be evened a bit.”
© 2020. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.
1. Oliveira DFM, Ma Y, Wood TK, et al: Comparison of National Institutes of Health grant amounts to first-time male and female principal investigators. JAMA Oncol 9:898-900, 2019.