Leaders in cancer prevention honored by the Prevent Cancer Foundation

Media Contact: Lisa Berry Edwards

Alexandria, Va. — On Tuesday, June 30, the Prevent Cancer Foundation® recognized leaders in cancer prevention and early detection with the 2020 Laurels Awards. The Laurels Awards, presented in partnership with the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, are presented annually to leaders in health equity, national leadership and community service.

The award ceremony is typically part of the annual Prevent Cancer Dialogue, but, due to COVID-19 and current social distancing guidelines, the Dialogue and Laurels award ceremony are being held virtually. The awards are being announced through a series of videos presented by Jennifer Griffin, breast cancer survivor and National Security Correspondent for Fox News. 

“It is always our honor to recognize leaders in cancer prevention and early detection, but it is especially meaningful this year to celebrate and honor those who have made a positive impact in public health,” said Carolyn Aldigé, Founder and CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “They are catalysts in cancer prevention, having dedicated their careers and much of their lives to reducing health disparities and increasing access to cancer prevention and early detection services in their communities and beyond. Their work and passion for change will leave a lasting footprint on public health for years to come.”

Laurel Award for Health Equity – Dr. Karen Kim

Karen E. Kim, M.D., is a professor of medicine, dean for faculty affairs for the division of Biological Sciences, associate director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of their Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Disparities. She established and directs the University of Chicago Center for Asian Health Equity,  the only research center dedicated to the study of Asian health disparities in the Midwest. For more than 16 years she has been dedicated to finding innovative ways to reduce cancer care disparities in Asian American communities. In 2017, Dr. Kim led the charge to launch an open-access colonoscopy program for the uninsured, reducing wait times from 18 months to two weeks. Since it launched, doctors in the program have removed countless pre-cancerous polyps and cancerous tissue, ultimately saving lives.

Laurel Award for National Leadership – Dr. Kathleen Schmeler

Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., is a professor of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Hospital colposcopy clinics, and co-leader of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at MD Anderson. She is a recognized expert in cervical cancer prevention programs and is best known for the comprehensive programs she developed in low-resource regions of Texas and in Mozambique, a country with no gynecologic oncologists and one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. Dr. Schmeler has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and is a sought-after speaker both nationally and internationally.

Laurel Award for Dedication to Community Service – Johnnay Benjamin

Johannay Benjamin, MPH, is the director of early detection and education at the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For 10 years, she has managed the community prevention, education and early detection initiative at the center, successfully helping more than 53,00 people in Baton Rouge receive cancer screening. Ms. Benjamin has provided strategic guidance for her program, analyzing trends and creating action plans to help her team bring lifesaving screenings to those at highest risk in the most disadvantaged areas. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

About The Prevent Cancer Foundation

The Prevent Cancer Foundation is one of the nation’s leading voluntary health organizations and the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection. Founded in 1985, it has catapulted cancer prevention to prominence and fulfills its mission through research, education, outreach and advocacy.