Dr. Rhoads has a unique combination of training and expertise among faculty at UCSF. Her background and scholarly work covers the full cancer continuum from basic science (endothelial cell regulation and angiogenesis); to clinical care as a colorectal surgeon; through health services research in cancer disparities; and training in health policy (as a California Endowment Scholar in Health Policy at Harvard (2005-2006), and as the inaugural UCSF Philip R. Lee Fellow in Health Policy (2007-2008)) as well as advanced leadership in cancer community engagement (as the founding director for community partnership program, Stanford Cancer Institute (2010) and the current Director of the Office of Community Engagement at the UCSF Cancer Center (2018)). Dr. Rhoads is currently Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Director, of the Office of Community Engagement for the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UCSF School of Medicine. Rhoads has formal training and board certification in general and colon and rectal surgery and conducts health services research highlighting the relationship between the delivery of evidence-based cancer care and racial/ethnic disparities in cancer. Rhoads’ groundbreaking work was the first to address the possibility that racial/ethnic minority clustering in low resource settings may explain historically disparate outcomes. In 2008, Rhoads was the first investigator to show that hospital payer mix could explain hospital level survival. She introduced the concept of a “high Medicaid hospital” into the literature, and advanced the use of payer mix as a predictor of care, outcomes in subsequent research on cancer disparities. Her NIH funded research focused on the use of robust statistical methods, such as propensity score matching and multi-level modeling, to validate the link between adherence to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines and cancer specific survival in populations. The results of her work support the need for hospital and system level interventions that will increase adherence to NCCN guideline at the hospital level, because she has shown that it will improve population level survival in gastric, and pancreas cancer; and can eliminate persistent disparities in colorectal cancer and hematological malignancies, independent of the effects of patient clinical, social and demographic characteristics. Rhoads’ work provides a foundation for future research in cancer disparities that will elevate the focus from interventions at the individual patient level, to an approach that emphasizes system level interventions to improve hospital cancer care quality. Rhoads’ longstanding commitment to community engagement as a pathway to eliminating cancer disparities started in medical school when she trained as a community organizer at The Center for Third World Organizing in Oakland, California. She maintained this focus and connection to the Greater Bay Area community for more than two decades, through her service as an inaugural Board member of the Bay Area Black Women’s Health Project; as a “1st Gen” lecturer in the Center for Science and Education summer programs for underrepresented minority high school students; and as the (former) founding director of the Stanford Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program (now called Community Outreach and Engagement). In her current role as the Director of the Office of Community Engagement for the cancer center at UCSF Rhoads provides leadership for institutional investigators in their engagement with communities to enhance both research and practice intended to reduce the burden of cancer, and address inequities in care and reduce disparities in survival. Her approach combines all areas of training and allows her to facilitate collaborations between basic scientists, population health researchers, clinical research and community. Her capacity to engage in cancer research and practice from cells to society make Dr. Rhoads uniquely qualified as a transformational leader in the national effort to promote health equity and eliminate longstanding cancer disparities.
Dr. Rhoads obtained her MD degree from UCSF jointly with a
- MS in Health and Medical Science from UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
- She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health, healthcare management and policy, from the Harvard School of Public Health where she served as a California Endowment Scholar in minority health policy