Titles and Affiliations

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

Research area

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


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, in part, to delayed and late-stage diagnoses. By focusing on training and infrastructure, Drs. Shulman and Shyirambere have developed effective strategies to integrate early detection services into the health care system in rural Rwanda and reduce time to treatment. They are now working to expand these efforts to reach more women with the goal of reducing preventable breast cancer deaths in Rwanda and other low-income countries and shaping national cancer control policy. 

Progress Thus Far

Drs. Shulman, Shyirambere, and their colleagues have 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, their program has provided clinical breast exam screening to thousands of patients and expanded into four districts in the country, leading to significant improvement in patient outcomes in an area where women have a much higher risk of dying of breast cancer. They have also developed a mobile, computer tablet-based electronic medical record to help patients navigate the health care system and obtain timely care and maximize any follow-up care. It has been introduced in four districts in Rwanda.

What's next

The team will continue to expand their clinical trials program to other districts in Rwanda and evaluate the program’s impact on the health system and patients. In ongoing efforts, they will optimize the use of the mobile platform and expand its availability to more medical centers. Lastly, they will continue to expand training in diagnostic breast ultrasound and hope to develop innovative virtual curricula to adapt to current travel restrictions. 


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 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 and ambulatory cancer centers.

Currently, Dr. Shulman is Chair of the Commission on Cancer and serves on the National Cancer Policy Forum of the National Academy. He is the former Chair of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality of Care Committee and the Commission on Cancer’s Quality Integration Committee.

Dr. Shulman serves as Senior Oncology Advisor to the non-profit organization Partners In Health (PIH). The PIH mission includes the establishment of national cancer treatment programs with the Ministries of Health in Rwanda and Haiti, programs for which he plays a seminal leadership role. He sits on the Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Council for Rwanda’s University for Global Health Equity. In addition, he helps to lead the development of the national oncology program in Botswana through the Botswana-UPenn Partnership.  Dr. Shulman is a former member of ASCO’s International Affairs Committee and their Task Force on Global Oncology as an Academic Career. He led the World Health Organization’s review and revision of their Essential Medicines for Cancer from 2014-2017.

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

BCRF Investigator Since


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