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Carolee Polek
School of Nursing

What are your general research interests?

While they have changed and become more specific over my 30 year career as an oncology nurse and researcher, my overarching research focus has been in cancer care: prevention, early detection and survivorship. My current efforts are in cancer screening and survivorship in underserved populations as well as my efforts with the Delaware State Cancer Consortium. Parallel to my research interests and consistent with my ethos as an educator, is my interest in methods of translating our findings into clinical outcomes and integrating them into clinical education. I see this is as critical link in nurturing aspiring nurse researchers and cementing the link between clinical research and patient care.

What are your current projects and how are they funded?

Currently, we are extending the characterization of breast cancer survivorship experiences that was funded by Susan G. Komen, Philadelphia Affiliate. The current project seeks to understand the impact of neighborhood, poverty and perceptions of resources in urban minority women with a special emphasis on sub-populations of Asians. Additionally, we are developing publications to support novel interventions in Mexican women who have recently migrated to the region as a follow up to our efforts on the effects of alcohol on the increased risk for cancer development.

Polek and patient

Who are your collaborators on these projects?

I have been fortunate to work with a group of dedicated scientists, physicians and practitioners in examining the trajectory of the cancer survivor. From Drexel University: Dr. Thomas Hardie, College of Nursing and Health Professions and Dr. Anne Klassen, School of Public Health; University of Pennsylvania: Dr. Janet Deatrick FAAN, School of Nursing and Dr. Kevin Lynch, Director, Biostatistics and Informatics Core, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Dr. Ari Brooks, Director of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery and Director of the Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital; Dr. Edith Mitchell, FACP, Director, Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities, Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center, Philadelphia. This team has collaborated on several research projects surrounding survivorship.

The research efforts examining the effects of alcohol and cancer in women who migrated to the USA consist of researchers from Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Dr. Victor Garcia, Director, Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute (MARTI); West Chester University, Dr. Marcia Walsh, College of Nursing, Dr. Laura Gonzales, and Dr. Thomas Hardie, Drexel University College of Health Professions.

What are the likely next steps in your work?

We envision novel interventions to assist cancer survivors better manage late effects and enhance prevention efforts. We seek to understand and collaborate with the medical community, caregivers, survivors and the community at large to expand health literacy to improve the quality of life. While expanding actionable knowledge to prevent CA and detect it earlier where it occurs. Helping others to help themselves.

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