Meet the Researchers

These researchers dedicate their careers to finding new treatments and cures for people with cancer. 

Blase Polite
Blase Polite, MD, MPA, Searches for Spiritual Synergy in Cancer Care
In 2008, Blase Polite, MD, MPH, received a Career Development Award – a $200,000 grant to pursue his research in understanding racial disparities in chemotherapy. Today, Dr. Polite is studying the importance of spirituality when patients make healthcare decisions.

How Religion Impacts Healthcare Disparities for People with Cancer

Dr. Polite never planned to become a doctor. He was involved in public policy and spent many years working in Washington, D.C., on urban poverty and health equity. He ultimately went to medical school and eventually became an oncologist but found a way to combine his passion for public health policy with his new career.  

Dr. Polite began studying health disparities among different socio-economic communities. He discovered a high concentration of gastrointestinal cancer rates in the south side of Chicago. “So we began to start probing why this was the case. We realized there were some genetic influences and there were some environmental influences, but there was clearly a social justice aspect of it,” he says. 

Dr. Polite dedicates his career to finding new ways to improve how people from different cultural backgrounds interact with the healthcare system. Much of his work discusses how spirituality impacts people’s decision to receive care. “What people bring into the room, especially when they’re facing a potentially terminal illness, is their faith and what role God plays in their life,” Dr. Polite says. “How do the treatments and chemotherapy and surgery play in with God's will? These are the kind of things that patients are telling us.” 

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Blase Polite, MD, MPH