Patient Navigators Tyra Hooper, Nathaly Gonzalez, and Rhonda Hamilton stand in front of a Capital Breast Care Center van.
Category: Alumni at Work, Gift Announcement, Giving News, Transformative Opportunities

Title:Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation makes gift to address disparities in cancer care

The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, continuing its longstanding partnership with Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, has made a gift to establish the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention. This gift—part of the foundation’s $25 million commitment to support five cancer care and prevention programs—will address health disparities in cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention for underserved communities across the Washington, D.C. region.

“When someone we love has cancer, it affects all of us—our families, our friends, our communities,” said Ralph Lauren, executive chairman and chief creative officer of Ralph Lauren Corporation, and chair of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation. “While we have made significant progress and advancements in the fight against cancer, barriers to care and access persist, particularly in our most medically underserved and vulnerable communities. It is our hope that, together, we can continue to raise awareness of this complex disease, strengthen avenues of support, and generate meaningful change for families and communities who need it most. For over 30 years, this has been my personal commitment, and now, joined by so many dedicated partners, we envision a world where cancer outcomes improve for everyone and survivors thrive.”

The gift to Georgetown Lombardi, the area’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, is a key component of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation’s largest single funding pledge, which will also benefit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as well as three additional NCI-designated centers that are yet to be confirmed.

Sustaining a 30-year partnership

Ralph Lauren’s 30-year commitment to Georgetown University Medical Center began with the creation of the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research in 1989. The center honors the memory of Nina Hyde—former fashion editor of The Washington Post—who advocated for research and early detection of breast cancer before succumbing to it. Her dear friend and fashion designer Ralph Lauren co-founded the center with the late Washington Post Company publisher Katharine Graham.

“The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation’s support of the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research was a foundational event in the history of our cancer center,” says Louis M. Weiner, M.D., director of Georgetown Lombardi. “To this day, we continue to honor Nina Hyde’s legacy through multidisciplinary, high quality breast cancer research.”

Weiner says that this new gift will be transformational for another important Georgetown center, the Capital Breast Care Center, which has served as a model for overcoming barriers and improving access to health care since 2004. The gift will allow Georgetown to extend its work not only in the screening and navigation of patients with breast cancer, but also with other types of cancers.

“Patient education and facilitation of patient access for screening studies will become the standard and not the exception in our region,” Weiner says. “We are just so thrilled to have the support of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to make this dream into a reality.”

Building on a history of cancer prevention and treatment

The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention will rename and reimagine the existing practices of Georgetown’s Capital Breast Care Center, led by the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research at Georgetown Lombardi. The center’s patient navigators have connected thousands of women—the majority of whom are uninsured and underinsured—to breast imaging services. The reimagined center will continue to screen patients for breast cancer and support patients across their continuum of care to primary care options and resources at MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute and beyond.

Additionally, the gift will expand the Capital Breast Care Center model to colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer—the most common cancers in the Washington, D.C. region. An augmented staff will provide local populations with more holistic services, including:

  • Educational workshops about cancer prevention;
  • Nutrition and wellness programs;
  • Transportation services to and from hospitals;
  • Cancer screening appointments; and
  • Patient navigation services to care and clinical trial opportunities.

The gift also supports legal representation administered by an attorney at Georgetown’s Health Justice Alliance, a medical-legal partnership between the Medical Center and Georgetown University Law Center. The attorney provides patients with legal services related to employment, housing, advance planning, debt, and health insurance. Legal support and other wraparound services address cancer patients’ unmet legal needs that may affect their physical and mental health and interfere with or prevent effective pursuit of cancer treatment.

Noting that people from underserved communities often experience higher risk rates of certain cancers, challenges accessing care, and lower cure rates, Weiner says that “the Ralph Lauren Foundation’s gift gives us the opportunity to begin leveling the playing field so that people can get the care they need for a better outcome.”

Caring for the whole community

Lucile Adams-Campbell, Ph.D.—professor of oncology, associate director of minority health & health disparities research at Georgetown Lombardi, and senior associate dean for community outreach and engagement at the Medical Center—oversees the Capital Breast Care Center and will lead the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention. She describes Georgetown’s responsibility not only to care for the whole person, but also to care for whole communities.

“My philosophy is that every health system should be working to reduce health disparities,” Adams-Campbell says. “I think Georgetown is stepping up and playing a major role in addressing the needs of the community. And hopefully, by addressing those needs, we will begin to mitigate the disparities and move towards equity.”

The center will leverage a holistic approach to promoting health and human dignity and draw on Georgetown’s capabilities across interdisciplinary education, patient care, and research.

“We look forward to working with the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to address health disparities in communities that are so in need,” Adams-Campbell says. “This gift will enable us to do so much more in the community.”