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President's Award for Juliet Daniel and Leila Springer

A commitment to reducing the stigma surrounding breast cancer in racialized communities has earned Juliet Daniel and Leila Springer this year's McMaster President's Award for Community-Engaged Research.

Juliet and LeilaJuliet (left), who's serving as Interim Associate Dean of Research & External Relations, is a molecular biologist who has focused much of her research on advancing scientific knowledge about triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). 

Leila is a Co-Founder and volunteer Executive Director of The Olive Branch of Hope, a nonprofit that supports women of African-Caribbean heritage who are living with cancer. 

Juliet and Leila began working together in 2015 to raise awareness among Black women about TNBC, an aggressive and often fatal cancer that disproportionately strikes women of African ancestry. Juliet and Leila have developed and delivered educational and fundraising initiatives in Hamilton, across the Greater Toronto Area and internationally. 

"The issue in the Black community and in many racialized communities is that cancer is considered a stigma," says Juliet. "Many communities won't even say the word 'cancer.' Our goal is to get people to talk about it, get women to go and get screening and encourage women to be proactive about their breast health."

Juliet recruited graduate and undergraduate students from her research lab to collaborate with The Olive Branch of Hope in creating Think Beyond "Love Pink" educational seminars and workshops. The interactive sessions focus on cancer awareness, along with overall health and wellness. 

Introduced in 2018, the President’s Awards for Community-Engaged Research recognizes teams of campus and community representatives who have demonstrated a commitment to initiating and supporting excellence in community-campus research initiatives. The Award honours those projects that value the expert knowledge and passion that members of the community have about their communities and issues affecting them, foster ongoing collaboration between University and community partners on how to better understand and consider the issues identified as priorities by local communities, and involve research, teaching and service with community members and partners for the public good within the local community.

The award will fund additional breast cancer education and awareness workshops and support epidemiological research to identify risk factors that may predispose Black women to breast cancer.

Earlier this year, Kathy Greaves from the Department of Biology and Adrienne Tearle from the Department of Kinesiology were recognized with President's Awards for Outstanding Service while the BioBlend Team and Krista Madson from the Department of Kinesiology received the President's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching & Learning.

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