A Conversation with Cathy J. Bradley, PhD

The University of Colorado Cancer Center on the Anschutz Medical Campus. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

C3 Magazine spoke with Cathy Bradley on a stormy August afternoon, the day she moved into her new office on the 6th floor of The Anschutz Medical Campus’s Building 500, the old Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. The office walls were still bare – think eggshell-white paint with metal cabinets. The wind had chosen that morning to blow a small pane of glass from her window onto the air conditioning unit of a flat roof a couple floors below. Someone from Facilities was coming to replace the glass but until then Bradley had duct-taped a small rectangle of cardboard in its place.

Despite the storm that was testing the staying power of duct tape, Bradley was upbeat as she talked about her plans to relocate her family from their home near the University of Virginia to Denver’s sometimes-unpredictable climate. See, Bradley is a fighter. Despite being smaller than boxing’s lightest weight class, she trains regularly.

Cathy.Bradley“It helps sometimes when dealing with the NIH grant process,” she says.

Cathy Bradley has had plenty of experience with that. As Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control at the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, Bradley’s research focused on the influence of cancer on employment, and she has become a leading expert on the experience of breast cancer survivors in the workplace. Much of her work focuses on the experience of underserved and minority populations. For example, an important paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that African-American women are diagnosed later and die more often from breast cancer than white women, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Another article, in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, showed that properly applying what we already know to prevent, diagnose and treat colorectal cancer could save more than 100,000 lives over 15 years, saving $33.9 billion dollars in lost productivity. (The biggest problem is getting people to follow the guidelines!)

Recently, Bradley has been focusing on the labor supply effects of the Affordable Care Act.

“Large-scale policy change offers the opportunity to discover how these policies affect health. You have a before and an after, and it’s a unique chance to compare the two,” she says.

At the CU Cancer Center, Bradley will join the executive leadership team with the purpose of promoting collaborations between researchers at CU and with other institutions around the country and the world. Bradley is also the David F. and Margaret Turley Grohne Endowed Chair for Cancer Prevention and Control Research at the CU Cancer Center, and is appointed a professor in the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy at Colorado School of Public Health.

“The goal of cancer prevention and control research is to explore how the ways we live – everything from the air we breathe to what we choose to put into our bodies to the rules we make – affect our health and, even more broadly, our wellbeing,” she says.

By the time you’re reading this, you can assume that Bradley’s wellbeing is greatly increased by the addition of new glass to her office window.

About the author: Garth Sundem

In addition to writing for the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Garth is the author of the books The Geeks' Guide to World Domination, Brain Candy, and Geek Logik. Contact him at garth.sundem [at] ucdenver.edu.

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