As a public health physician focused on the cancer fight, Loria Pollack improves the lives of entire populations.
When Loria Pollack joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2002, the mortality rate for colorectal cancer was nearly 20 in 100,000. Today, it’s down to 15 in 100,000, a dramatic decrease. Much of the drop, she says, can be attributed to a public health effort to increase colorectal cancer screening.
Pollack RWJMS’99, SPH’99 is a physician with a master’s in public health—a dual degree from Rutgers that positioned her perfectly for a job that straddles the two disciplines and draws on them equally. She has chosen to work in public health because she loves its broad impact. “You’re affecting thousands of lives,” she says, noting that while a private oncologist can treat dozens of patients at a time, public health physicians affect the health of entire populations.
After more than a decade with the CDC, Pollack is a medical epidemiologist in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. She works to enhance the National Program of Cancer Registries and produce the official U.S. Cancer Statistics with data collected on nearly all cancer patients, an invaluable resource for setting national priorities and measuring progress in the fight against cancer.
She’s also overseeing a special study of 71,456 new cases of leukemia and breast and colorectal cancer, gathering data that will shed light on the effectiveness of current methods of diagnosis and treatment. Her research and goals are designed to ultimately translate into better care and outcomes for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of individuals. That’s perfectly in line with Pollack’s overall vision: “The big health problems,” she says, “need big health approaches.” •