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. Dr. Polite also studies the importance of spirituality when patients make healthcare decisions.

Religion and Health

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. When he became an oncologist, he found a way to combine his passion for public health policy with his new career.  

Dr. Polite began studying health disparities among different socioeconomic 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 is finding new ways to improve how people from different cultural backgrounds interact with their healthcare systems. 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,” says Dr. Polite, who is using what he learns from patients to provide them personalized care.

“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