UConn’s First Global Oncology Program

The program's leader is UConn Health Hematologist/Oncologist Dr. Victoria Forbes of the Carole & Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center who is working to ensure cancer care is available to all, no matter where they live.

Dr. Victoria Forbes of UConn Health volunteering in Uganda.

Read this Q & A article with Dr. Victoria Forbes, assistant professor of medicine, and more about  UConn Health’s latest Global Health efforts in the Autumn 2023 edition of Immersions, the UConn Health Global Health newsletter.

Dr. Victoria Forbes.

Q. How did you get involved with global health?
A.  My first medical experience abroad was in Australia. This led to me to seek out Global Health opportunities as a resident where I traveled to Uganda as a learner in UConn’s Tropical Medicine rotation with Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus. I was hooked and looked for a Fellowship program that incorporated Global Oncology training. My Fellowship at Dartmouth allowed me to connect to my mentor Dr. Mary Chamberlin, travel to Rwanda to provide oncologic care to patients, and perform research in the field. I helped develop an online Global Oncology curriculum as a Fellow during the pandemic and I continue to direct this course now.

I joined UConn as faculty and our Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center offered me the amazing opportunity to start UConn’s first Global Oncology program. I run this program now and serve as UConn Global Health Faculty along with a dedicated team. All learners are welcome to join the Global Oncology and Disparities of Care virtual program.

Q. What are some challenges you have experiences in this field and how did you overcome them?
Only a handful of US-based Fellowship programs have a Global Oncology program. However, the field is gaining momentum and if you want to be involved, I recommend jumping right in. In Global Health, it is also important to seek out mentorship.

Q. Why do you think Global Health is important?
A. Global Health ensures a healthy future for everyone as one community, no matter where they live. We need to find meaningful ways to gain and share knowledge globally in a bidirectional manner, realizing our shared humanity. I love what I do and feel lucky to inspire learners to care for patients in radically different settings. As a team, we can address the disparities in access to care globally and do it with cultural humility and a commitment to equitable international partnerships.

Dr. Forbes looking at a patient’s x-ray during a medical trip to Uganda.

Chief of Infectious Diseases at UConn Health Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus, who is also Director of Global Health at UConn School of Medicine, applauds the work of Forbes.

“We are very proud and fortunate to have Dr. Victoria Forbes on faculty at UConn Health. Through her ongoing global health work spanning from training at UConn Health to becoming a recognized expert in global oncology. Dr. Forbes serves as a role model for our students and residents who wish to incorporate global health into their careers,” shared Dieckhaus.

And what’s next for Global Health at UConn Health?

“We continue to develop and evolve our relationships with partners in Uganda, Guam, Peru, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, India, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Lithuania and others,” says Dieckhaus.