Researchers
Meet the Researchers

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

Kala Visvanathan
Researchers
Kala Visvanathan, MD, MHS Works to Prevent Cancer in Every Patient
Could broccoli prevent cancer? That’s one of the things Kala Visvanathan, MD, MHS, is studying. With the help of donor-supported grants, including a Career Development Award, Dr. Visvanathan researches how to prevent cancer and keep it from reoccurring.

Preventing Cancer Starts with Understanding People

“To be successful in preventing cancer,” says Dr. Visvanathan, “we need to continue to understand the disease while implementing what we already know in the real world.”

Dr. Visvanathan specializes in breast and ovarian cancer prevention and explores why, for example, are there some patients who have not had germline testing to determine if they are a BRCA1/BRCA2 carrier, even though they fit the criteria for testing? The test, which has been available for more than a decade, indicates the likelihood for developing ovarian, breast, and other types of cancer. Still, not all patients are aware the test exists, have access to the testing, or feel comfortable taking advantage of it. 

“We and others have found the disparity to be worse among individuals of low socioeconomic status, even if they have insurance,” explains Dr. Visvanathan. “This group of individuals and their families could benefit enormously from prevention given the rising costs of treatment. We are now developing other strategies to hopefully improve uptake in diverse populations."

Looking Ahead to the Future of Cancer Prevention

“To reduce the risk of cancer in ALL women and men, we must make prevention personal by first identifying specific barriers and then removing them so that patients and providers not only have accessto the best care, but also understand the benefits of prevention,” said Dr. Visvanathan.

Real world data is driving her to find solutions for the diverse patient populations she serves.  She and her team continue to explore knowledge research gaps and innovative solutions while helping to mentor and train the next generation of scientists.

 “I believe strongly that technological advances enabling us to access large databases from multiple sources that have information on all types of individuals can be used to better understand the source of the disparities and can also be used to develop innovative solutions to address them,” says Dr. Visvanathan.

 

To reduce the risk of cancer in women and men, we must remove any barriers so that patients and providers not only have access to the best care, but also understand the benefits of prevention.
Kala Visvanathan, MD, MHS