Watson receives first LUNGevity Community Champions award

Karriem Watson, associate director for community outreach and engagement at the University of Illinois Cancer Center, has been named the first recipient of the LUNGevity Foundation’s Community Champions award in honor of his work to address the needs of Chicago’s neighborhoods at risk for lung cancer.

“Throughout his career, Karriem has focused his research on community engagement, health equity, and expanding diversity in cancer clinical trials,” said Jeanne Regnante, LUNGevity’s Chief Health Equity and Diversity Officer. “He has a true passion for the community he serves, and we know others will be inspired by his story.”

Based in Chicago, the LUNGevity Foundation’s goal is to change outcomes for people with lung cancer through research, education and support. As part of the organization’s Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, the LUNGevity Foundation created the Community Champions award, which identifies health equity leaders in lung cancer who personify its stated mission of making an immediate impact on increasing the quality of life and survivorship for all people diagnosed with lung cancer.

Community Champions are selected based on criteria established by LUNGevity senior leadership: Their work focuses on creating sustainable and impactful solutions to address lung cancer disparities and to drive health equity for populations they serve; they conduct programs, research, education and policy change with deliberate insights and partnership with trusted community based organizations and vulnerable communities; and they demonstrate leadership to ensure a diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce.

A member of LUNGevity’s Health Equity Council, Watson, DHSc, MS, MPH, is assisting in the Foundation’s latest project, which he believes will bring much-needed attention to how social determinants of health can have a dramatic effect on lung cancer patients and their caregivers.

“For us to move forward as a society, it’s imperative that we begin the conversation on how safe and equal access to healthcare should be a right afforded to everyone,” Watson said. “I’m glad organizations like LUNGevity are committed to inviting the discussion while providing a seat at the table for all who are interested.”