A Physician-Scientist With a Huge Heart for Patients With Lung Cancer
12/18/2021, Dr. Jorge Cortes, CURE® Lung Cancer Heroes® 2021 Essay Book, Volume 2
It is with great enthusiasm and categorical support that I submit my nomination for Dr. Nagla Abdel Karim for CURE® magazine’s 2021 Lung Cancer Heroes® award. Dr. Karim has been a valued part of our Georgia Cancer Center family and shares her passion for health care with every patient with lung cancer she works with at our center.
Dr. Nagla Abdel Karim. Photos by Evaliz Sa´nz.
The accomplishments of Dr. Karim are many, and her efforts in patient care and research to improve the lives of those with lung cancer are many. I can list a few to provide evidence of the deservedness of her nomination. At the Georgia Cancer Center, we serve a population of largely minority patients. It is well known that these patients suffer inequities and worse outcomes, and their enrollment in clinical trials has been dismal in this country. This contributes to the little progress in advancing their health outcomes.
Recently, Dr. Karim was part of a partnership grant from the biotechnology company Genentech. The grant, totaling more than $748,000, will allow Dr. Karim to partner with the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center to understand why African American patients living with lung cancer are so hesitant to join clinical trials created to see if new treatments and therapies will increase the survival of this population.
From left: Dr. Nagla Abdel Karim and Dr. Jorge Cortes.
As part of their work to apply for the grant, Dr. Karim analyzed data showing that only 6% of African American patients with cancer participate in clinical trials and that only 15% of our country’s Black patients with lung cancer are willing to be part of lung cancer clinical trials. In Georgia, we have a large African American population living in poverty and in rural parts of the state with very little access to cancer care options in their communities. Also, past studies and research data show African Americans are more likely to develop lung cancer during their lifetime. This is why the clinical trial Dr. Karim is involved in is so important and an example of why she deserves to be a lung cancer hero for 2021.
Dr. Karim’s participation in this research project will bring together focus groups to discuss clinical trials with African American patients with lung cancer to understand why they decide not to enroll in clinical research projects that could offer them a longer life with their loved ones. It will examine how the Georgia Cancer Center and other cancer centers across the Southeast United States can break down barriers to clinical trial hesitancy and other steps that will ensure African Americans are better represented in clinical research projects so that potential new therapies are more thoroughly tested on this population.
It is my sincere hope that you will consider Dr. Karim’s nomination as you select this year’s award recipients. Thank you for your time and for this opportunity to nominate a cancer physician-scientist with a huge heart who’s committed to more people living longer, happier, healthier lives after receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer.