ASCO’s 2017-2018 Health Policy Fellows Pursue Advocacy, Leadership Experience

Sep 06, 2017

By Carson Rolleri, Staff Writer

ASCO has selected two fellows for its Health Policy Fellowship Program, now entering its second year. The year-long program aims to attract young oncologists with a keen interest in acquiring stronger health policy skills and have leadership, civic, policy, or advocacy experience.

Alexander Chin, MD, MBA, and Joanna C. Yang, MD, will serve as the program’s fellows from July 2017 through June 2018.

"Dr. Chin and Dr. Yang both know that oncologists need to understand the health policy issues that fundamentally affect oncologists, our practices, and most importantly, our patients," said ASCO Immediate Past President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO. "This fellowship offers them an opportunity to gain in-depth experience so they can develop the skills they need to not just understand, but really shape cancer policy in a way that will improve cancer research and care delivery. We're eager to have them add their insights and experience to ASCO's policy and advocacy work."

The ASCO fellowship program has several components, including:

  • Active participation in policy development for high-impact issues in oncology
  • Small-group teaching sessions delivered by ASCO staff and qualified volunteers on topics such as the Congressional authorization/appropriations process, U.S. Food and Drug Administration organization and regulatory authority, drug and device approval processes, and payment reform initiatives
  • Training in communication and leadership skills, as well as advocacy strategies
  • A mentored research project on one of nine preselected topics that advances or leverages an ASCO policy initiative 

Dr. Alexander Chin

Dr. Chin is a resident physician in the Department of Radiation Oncology for Stanford Health Care at Stanford University. At Stanford Health Care, he is a founding member and the only resident physician member of the Specialty Drug Sub-Committee, where he assists in evaluating new, high-cost drug therapies in oncology, hematology, and neurology using clinical outcome, safety, and cost-effectiveness analyses. He is also actively involved in the early stages of developing and implementing oncology clinical pathways at Stanford, with the goal of establishing metrics to measure quality and to prepare the institution for alternative payment models, while standardizing high-quality care.

“I was inspired [to apply for the ASCO Health Policy Fellowship] by the unique opportunity to gain firsthand experience working with policymakers, physicians, patient advocates, and other stakeholders to potentially improve the way in which we deliver care to patients with cancer across the country,” Dr. Chin said. “As an oncologist in training, I was also drawn by the close mentorship component of the fellowship program and how to learn from all those around me with deep experience in clinical care, advocacy, and policy.”

Dr. Chin received his medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. While in medical school, he served as treasurer of the Asian Pacific American Medical Association, where he assisted in organizing public health–oriented community service projects aimed at supporting underserved populations in Philadelphia.

Dr. Chin has previously worked at McKinsey & Company, developing strategies for hospital systems to prepare for health care reform, and at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, where his interest in health advocacy began. He hopes that the ASCO Health Policy Fellowship will help him gain valuable insight into the policy-making process, develop lasting relationships with ASCO members, and further build on both his communication and leadership skills.

Dr. Joanna C. Yang

Dr. Yang is a radiation oncology resident at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), where her research with the institution’s Center for Health Policy & Outcomes focuses on cost-effectiveness analyses, with the goal of quantitatively comparing treatment options to produce the most effective and high-value outcomes for patients. She also serves as one of six elected members of the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology (ARRO), the resident component of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), where she has worked to increase resident participation in Advocacy Day. She is also a resident representative to ASTRO’s Health Policy Committee.

“I think it’s more important than ever for physicians to take an active role in shaping health policy,” Dr. Yang said. “Unfortunately, we are not exposed to health policy in medical school and residency. Given the changing health care landscape, I felt the ASCO Health Policy Fellowship would give me the tools I needed to ensure that health care legislation represents physicians’ and patients’ interests.”  

As a medical student, Dr. Yang cofounded a business of medicine course to expose other medical students and residents to health economics and reimbursement processes. As an undergraduate, she participated in the Stanford-in-Washington internship program. She is currently pursuing an MPH at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with a concentration in clinical effectiveness. Through ASCO’s Health Policy Fellowship, she hopes to translate her research on cost-effective treatments for patients into policy changes and practice paradigm shifts.

ASCO conducts and administers the Health Policy Fellowship with funding support from the Conquer Cancer Foundation Mission Endowment.

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