On the Move: Narjust Duma Named Associate Director of the Cancer Equity Program at Dana-Farber

March 30, 2021

Partner | Cancer Centers | <b>Dana Farber</b>

Narjust Duma, MD, has been named as the new associate director of the Cancer Care Equity Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Narjust Duma, MD, has been named as the new associate director of the Cancer Care Equity Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

In her new role at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Duma will work to develop strategies that aim to diminish healthcare disparities in oncology, as well as enhance the delivery of cancer care to the greater Boston community.

“Hundreds of years of racism, much of it structural, has [shaped] what our healthcare system is…One of my main goals is to nourish and help the next generation of underrepresented medical doctors,” Duma told OncLive. “Something that has been proven over and over again is that if you’re able to mentor and sponsor underrepresented groups of physicians, they will remain in academia. Besides paying it forward, they will be seen by patients as someone who looks, and sounds, like them.”

Duma will continue her clinical practice as a thoracic oncologist with a particular focus on women with lung cancer. Her research will be focused on studying the disease in young women and its impact on their physical and psychological wellbeing. Part of this clinical interest in the care of women with lung cancer includes their unique aspects of cancer survivorship. Duma is also the principal investigator of the Sexual Health Assessment in Women with Lung Cancer (SHAWL) Study, the largest effort to date that is evaluating sexual dysfunction in women with lung cancer.

“I have 2 babies: one of them is health equity and social justice and the other is women with lung cancer,” Duma explained. “They’re related in a way because women with lung cancer experience many disparities. They experience delays in diagnosis. Compared with their male counterparts, younger women with lung cancer take up to 3 times longer to diagnose despite having similar symptoms. We hope that in the next few years we will be able to have a multidisciplinary clinic that will focus on women with lung cancer.”

Duma is currently an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Universidad Catolica Nordestana Medical School in the Dominican Republic, completed her internal medicine residency in Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and completed her hematology and medical oncology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Additionally, Duma was previously selected by her peers as one of the 2018-2019 Chief Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellows during her time at Mayo Clinic.

“I have been involved in cancer equity since early in my career when I was a medical student,” Duma said. “My [time] here at the University of Wisconsin allowed me to develop the Duma Lab, which is a large research group that focuses on social justice. Being able to manage that group, which is very productive [in terms of] publications and grants, has allowed me to feel comfortable and prepared for this new leadership role at Dana-Farber.”

Aside from her clinical interests in lung cancer, she is currently the leading and productive researcher in gender and racial discrimination in medical education and medicine, as well as a world-recognized advocate and researcher in gender equity and balance in medicine.

“My long-term goal is to move away from assessments and [start acting] to improve equity. It’s time to do something about it…It’s important that we, as physicians, use our privilege to generate equity; this is not only equity for our patients, but equity for our trainees, medical students, residents, and all our colleagues, because some people have bigger burdens than others,” Duma said. “We can use our privilege to create equity; we don’t need to wait for policy changes [from] the government. Although those [changes] are important, we have a lot of power in healthcare to generate equity.”

Duma has received numerous awards, including the 2018 Resident of the Year Award by the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Mayo Brothers Distinguished Fellowship award—which is considered the highest trainee honor in the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education—and the 2020 Rising Star award by the LEAD national conference for women in hematology and oncology. Her work has been featured in various media outlets including OncLive, The New York Times, STAT, Healio, Oncology Central,ASCO Post, and Doximity.

You can follow Dr. Duma on Twitter at the following handle: @NarjustDumaMD.