Thoracic Medical Oncologist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Associate Director of The Cancer Care Equity Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Member of the Faculty, Harvard Medical School
My primary research interest, along with my clinical work, focuses on improving cancer care for vulnerable patient populations, particularly young patients and women with lung cancer, patients who are members of ethnic and racial minority groups, and those who are economically disadvantaged. I am particularly interested in evaluating delays in diagnosis, unique disease characteristics and survivorship issues faced by young patients with lung cancer, and the power of intersectionality regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, and social determinants of health in these vulnerable populations.
My interest in healthcare disparities dates to my first research project as a medical student. Then, I worked with the Dominican Republic Health Department to improve access to healthcare for the children of Haitian immigrants and developed a state-wide campaign to increase their vaccination rates. Throughout my subsequent years of training, I developed an extensive research portfolio focused on cancer care delivery, patient-reported outcomes, sex and racial differences in response, and tolerability to cancer therapies. I have studied and advocated for including women, minorities, and older adults in oncology clinical trials and have collaborated with large institutions and government agencies to modify clinical trials' exclusion criteria. I continue to support the movement to a more evidence- based approach when formulating exclusion criteria and to increase the recruitment of understudied groups like young adults with cancer and sexual and gender minorities. As junior faculty, I continue to advocate for equal cancer care for ALL, increasing access to therapeutic clinical trials, and evaluating the long-term consequences of new cancer treatment on fertility and sexual health. Over the last three years, I have established national and international collaborations with lung cancer foundations to address the unique issues faced by patients with lung cancer. In the summer of 2020, we launched the Sexual Health Assessment in Women with Lung Cancer (SHAWL) Study in conjunction with the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer; this international effort is the largest study evaluating sexual health in women with lung cancer to date. The study closed recruitment of patients in the summer of 2021. We recruited 249 participants across the globe. The study was presented at the 2022 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Vienna, Austria and has received national and international news coverage. Our study showed that 77% of study participants were facing moderate to sexual dysfunction and brought attention to the importance of incorporating sexual health into thoracic oncology care. In addition, during my time at the University of Wisconsin, we created the first clinic in the Midwest dedicated to women with lung cancer. This clinic rapidly 2 grew, receiving referrals from 11 different states across the region. At the 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer, the clinic was awarded the North American Cancer Care Team Award for exceptional clinical care. This award resulted from multiple nominations from patients and caregivers that received care at our specialty clinic. I am the Associate Director of The Cancer Care Equity Program at Dana-Farber institute; in this position, I have developed relationships with the Boston community and continue to expand the program's research portfolio. In addition, I am the leader and founder of the Florez Laboratory. This research group focuses on lung cancer health disparities and social justice issues in medicine, including discrimination & gender bias in academic and clinical medicine. The Florez laboratory has received research funding from several national agencies, published over 20 studies and editorials, and presented research findings at national and international conferences, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, the World Conference on Lung Cancer, and The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting. My clinical and research experience in cancer-related age, gender, race, and class disparities, as well as in medical education, allow for a unique perspective and the ability to conduct national and international studies in lung cancer survivorship, patient reported outcomes, and social justice.