Cancer mortality and morbidity is growing quickly in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). With global cancer cases expected to increase 70% by 2030 in LMICs, the Department of Medicine’s Division of Oncology is launching a new initiative designed to be a catalyst for the global health and oncology community at Washington University.  Our team is focused on bringing diverse groups of clinicians, researchers, students, and community organizations together to conduct research that will inform future innovative implementation strategies to optimize delivery of evidence-based treatments and improve survival for underserved patients with cancer in the US and globally. Founded in 2023, this new initiative has four main strategic pillars

Global oncology as an academic discipline

As a relatively new and informal field, there is growing demand for hands on, in-country global health experiences within Oncology fellowship programs. This initiative seeks to build one of the only Global Oncology fellowship tracks in the Midwest. We plan to:

  • Create a new Global Oncology track within the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program
  • Develop metrics for promotion and career advancement that more equitably reflect academic contributions in support of cancer care and treatment

Implementation science in global oncology

A key theme of the National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health strategic plan for 2021-2025 is to “accelerate global cancer implementation science.” This initiative will harness the power of the emerging field of implementation science to design the most effective public health strategies to reach, treat, and cure cancer patients in low-resource settings in the U.S. and globally. The initiative will:

  • Partner with the Center for Dissemination & Implementation (Director Elvin Geng) to work with faculty within Washington University to build implementation science frameworks and outcomes into their oncology focused research proposals

Formalize and cultivate meaningful global strategic collaborations

Formalizing global partnerships in an equitable manner will allow for future comparative studies of cancers of global significance, working with cohorts in St. Louis and globally to better understand the differences in natural history, host genetics, clinical and immunologic characteristics, treatment response, and implementation strategies.

  • Develop memorandums of understanding with LMIC countries
  • Connect Washington University researchers with global oncologists, cancer hospitals

Capacity building through education and training

We seek to create cross-institutional, cross-country, and cross-continent learning opportunities for a new generation of physicians who will advance scientific discovery for underserved populations globally. To this end, this initiative seeks to:

  • Grow formal global cancer and implementation science training programs (e.g. Incorporate cancer training within HIGH-IRI)
  • Create a Global Oncology Speaker Series
  • Host technical workshops designed for Global Oncologists
  • Recruit a cadre of local and international mentors

Leadership Team

Thomas Odeny, MD, PhD, MPH 
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Oncology 
Dr. Odeny seeks to address gaps in cancer care by translating research advances to practical and scalable cancer programs in low-resources settings in the U.S. and in Africa. His clinical research interest is on expanding treatment options for cancers in people living with HIV

Betsy Abente, MPH
Research and Development Strategist

Ms. Abente has more than 20 years’ experience managing complex global health programs in low and middle income settings. Early in her career she focused on HIV prevention and has since transitioned to a focus on building capacity through innovative training programs for researchers in the Global South.

Dorothy Mangale, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Associate

An Implementation Scientist, Dr. Mangale’s research interests include infant and child survival, and sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls and young women. More specifically she looks into how to improve access to, and quality of family planning, HIV, and cervical cancer prevention and treatment services for this population.

Annalise Seger
Administrative Coordinator

With over a decade of dedicated experience in the healthcare sector, Ms. Seger honed her skills across several domains including patient care, leadership training, and several other facets in this dynamic industry. Her current focus is providing administrative support to the medical oncology field

Affiliate Faculty

Elvin Geng, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine
Director, Center for Dissemination & Implementation

Using the lens of implementation science, Dr. Geng conducts research to advance the use of evidence-based interventions in the public health response to HIV and COVID-19 as well as increasingly for non-communicable diseases as well. He has worked closely with service-delivery organizations in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, as well as in the US.

Lee Ratner

Lee Ratner, MD, PhD
Alan A and Edith L Wolff Professor of Oncology, Medicine & Molecular Microbiology

Dr Ratner’s research is focused on employing state-of-the-art cell, viral, and molecular approaches to understanding the biology of virus-associated malignancies and translating these observations into novel therapeutic approaches.


Kandice Roberts, MD
Eric Thuo, MD
Diana Odhiambo, MD/PhD student


Washington University D&I Global Oncology Symposium
2024 Date, TBD

Publications (Selected)