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Lawrence Shulman, MD

Deputy Director for Clinical Services
Director, Center for Global Cancer Medicine
University of Pennsylvania, Abramson Cancer Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Current Research

Goal: To promote early detection of breast cancer and improve quality of care in low-resource communities in Rwanda.

Impact: Drs. Shulman and Mpunga have trained hundreds of clinicians in breast health care and provided breast exam screening to thousands of patients in the country’s Burera district. Their efforts have led to a significant improvement in patient outcomes in an area where women have a much higher risk of dying of breast cancer.

What’s next: The doctors will continue to expand their program to other districts in Rwanda. They also plan to develop a mobile platform to help guide patients with concerning breast symptoms through the country’s health care system so they can obtain timely care.

In low- to middle-income countries with limited resources such as Rwanda, breast cancer outcomes are poor due to lack of screening and follow-up. As a result, women are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, and they may not receive quality treatment. By focusing on training and infrastructure, Drs. Shulman and Mpunga are developing effective strategies to increase early detection and reduce time to treatment.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Creating infrastructure and training health care professionals to ensure that underserved women in Rwanda receive quality screening and treatment for breast cancer.

Impact: Breast cancer is a major public health concern in low- and middle-income countries such as Rwanda, where women have a much higher risk of dying from their disease. This is due partly to delayed and late-stage diagnoses. Drs. Shulman and Mpunga aim to increase early detection and reduce time to treatment, which could help improve breast cancer outcomes in Rwanda.

Current investigation: The team has been developing a breast cancer early detection program in the remote Burera District of Rwanda. They’ve trained hundreds of Rwandan health care workers in ways to educate patients about breast cancer, perform high-quality breast exams, utilize ultrasound to identify those who may have cancer, and refer patients for timely diagnosis and treatment. So far, the program has provided clinical breast exam screening to thousands of patients, including almost 7,000 women in two new districts in the country.

What’s next: Drs. Shulman and Mpunga will continue working with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to expand their project to other districts in Rwanda and evaluate the program’s impact on the health system and patients. They also plan to develop a mobile platform to navigate patients with concerning breast symptoms through the health care system, so they receive prompt treatment.

Biography

Lawrence N. Shulman, M.D., is the Deputy Director for Clinical Services of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of their newly formed Center for Global Cancer Medicine.  He has a leadership role in the strategic development of cancer services for the Cancer Center and its affiliated hospitals.

Dr. Shulman is the former Chair of American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Quality of Care Committee. He is a member of the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, and Chair of their Quality Integration Committee. 

Dr. Shulman serves as Senior Oncology Advisor to Partners In Health (PIH), a non-profit organization co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and Ophelia Dahl in 1987. Over the past five years, PIH has expanded its mission to include supporting the establishment of national cancer treatment programs with the Ministries of Health in Rwanda and Haiti. In addition he works with the cancer program in Botswana.  Dr. Shulman is a member of ASCO’s Global Oncology Leadership Task Force and International Affairs Committee.

A specialist in the treatment of patients with breast cancer, his research includes development of new cancer therapies, and implementation of cancer treatment programs in low-resource settings.

He received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and trained in Hematology and Oncology at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA.

Large Researcher Headshot - Shulman Lawrence

BCRF Investigator Since

2013

Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies’ North America Manufacturing & Distribution and Global Research & Development Award

Area(s) of Focus

Co-Investigators