Democratizing Clinical Trials with Dana Dornsife of Lazarex Cancer Foundation

Dana Dornsife is a patient-advocate and the founder and CEO of Lazarex Cancer Foundation, a nationwide non-profit organization that seeks to improve the outcome of cancer care – giving hope, dignity, and life to advanced stage cancer patients and the medically underserved by matching patients to clinical trials and providing travel reimbursements to patients for the costs associated with FDA clinical trial participation.

 

Dana founded Lazarex in 2006 after her brother-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she learned first hand of the many barriers patients encounter when trying to access potentially life saving treatment through clinical trials. A passionate patient advocate, she works to disrupt the system to advance much needed change. Under her leadership, the organization was involved in getting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to publish new guidance language that makes it clear patients can be reimbursed for travel expenses to clinical trial sites. Through Lazarex, Dana also advocates extensively at the state level for laws that reinforce the FDA guidance. She has succeeded in getting new laws passed in 5 states and legislation is pending or being considered in several other states.

In 2016, Dana expanded the mission of Lazarex with IMPACT (IMproving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials), a 3-year nationwide program that works to increase cancer clinical trial enrollment, retention, minority participation and equitable access in the hopes of getting cancer drugs to market faster and finishing oncology clinical trials on time and on budget. Most recently, Lazarex is also working to create collaboration around a public health initiative in Philadelphia, PA – Community IMPACT. This bold effort is aimed at creating a replicable model to improve cancer health outcomes and associated co-morbidities, and address cancer health disparities for the residents of medically underserved and socioeconomically challenged minority neighborhoods throughout major metropolitan cities and beyond.

Dana is a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is a board member of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California, serves as Chair of the UCSF Cancer Leadership Council and is a member of the MGH Presidents Council. She is Vice Chair of the governing board of the Yosemite Conservancy in addition to being a council member. Dana and her husband, David Dornsife, a USC Trustee, are also long-time supporters of environmentalism and sustainability and are the world’s top investors in clean water projects in Africa through World Vision, an international humanitarian agency supporting water, sanitation and hygiene in 24 African countries.

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