Special Spotlight: Widely Acclaimed Cancer Disparities Researcher, Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, Retires from University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine
, by CRCHD staff
Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, an internationally recognized expert in cancer health disparity research and a former NCI/CRCHD grantee, recently announced her retirement from the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) School of Medicine, where she served as Associate Dean for Policy and Planning. Dr. Baquet has dedicated her professional career to reducing health disparities. During her twenty years at UMB, she advocated tirelessly for quality health care and related issues for underserved communities, was a mentor to numerous students and faculty, and was instrumental in engaging communities in cancer research.
“Dr. Baquet leaves a huge footprint in the science of cancer health disparities, community-based research. She was instrumental in breaking down barriers in the science community, between research and policy groups, and within local communities that experience health disparities,” said NCI/CRCHD director Dr. Sanya A. Springfield. “Health disparities, in fact, were not even nationally recognized when she entered the field.”
Prior to UMB, Dr. Baquet was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and associate director of Cancer Control Science at the National Cancer Institute. In both roles, Dr. Baquet was credited for establishing critical groundwork for advancing cancer disparities research and bringing national attention to the field of health disparities.
“Dr. Baquet’s work in cancer disparities helped inform national public health policy and had a huge impact in the way we approach community-based research today. Her advocacy work, in particular, helped inform public health professionals in their outreach to racially and ethnically diverse groups, as well as in their development of culturally-tailored interventions and resources,” Dr. Springfield said.
Earlier in her career, Dr. Baquet served as director of NCI’s Office of Special Populations. In this role, Dr. Baquet spearheaded numerous cancer health disparities research initiatives and developed intervention research on various cancer topics that disproportionately affect racial/ethnic groups and medically underserved whites.
Dr. Baquet was the principal investigator for the Maryland Regional Community Network (MRCN) program, a collaboration between the NCI-supported Maryland Special Populations Network and the University of Maryland Statewide Health Network. MRCN was funded by the CRCHD Community Network Program and was aimed at increasing capacity at the community, research, and training levels to eliminate disparities in five geographic regions in Maryland. MRCN targeted a variety of medically underserved groups, including African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Appalachian, rural communities, and individuals with low socioeconomic status. Dr. Baquet also led the Maryland Special Populations Cancer Network, funded by the CRCHD Special Populations Network program, to establish partnerships to support participation of underrepresented communities in research, provide training opportunities to underrepresented researchers, and provide a range of cancer awareness activities for African Americans and other rural underserved groups in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland.
Dr. Baquet currently co-chairs the American Cancer Society Disparities Reduction Initiatives and served on the ACS National Advisory Committee on Cancer in Minorities. In 2014, she was elected to the American Association for Cancer Research “Minorities in Cancer Research Council.”
Dr. Baquet’s personal history likely inspired her passion for service within underserved communities. Dr. Baquet’s maternal great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee medicine woman who carried her medicinal herbs in a basket on her hip and traveled the Mississippi Gulf Coast to practice midwifery and heal the sick.
Dr. Baquet is the recipient of numerous awards in health disparities research and community service. Most recently, the University of Maryland School of Medicine honored her with the 2015 Dean’s Faculty Award for Diversity and Inclusion. She was also the 2012 recipient of the American Association for Cancer Research’s 2nd Annual Distinguished Lecture on Cancer Health Disparities, funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Other awards include the “Scientist of the Year Award” from the American Medical Women’s Association (2014), the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s prestigious Laurel Award (2008), the Congressional Recognition Award from the U.S. Congress for her work in health disparities research and community engagement (2006), among others.
Dr. Baquet plans to spend time with family and explore global health in her future endeavors.