Lead Consultant, California Breast Cancer Research Program’s Special Research Initiatives

Marj led a nationwide strategic planning process, working with hundreds of scientists and advocates, to plan $18 million of innovative research into two intertwined questions:

  • What is the impact of the environment on breast cancer?
  • Why are some groups of women more likely than others to get breast cancer and die from the disease?

These questions have eluded researchers in the past because they are difficult to investigate.

The planning process Marj led included:

  • Identifying and involving California organizations and institutions who could join forces and increase the resources available to conduct the research.
  • Creating ample opportunities to allow the public to give input into the content of the research through an online web-based brainstorming and prioritization system called Concept Systems.
  • Integrating advice from as many nationwide experts as possible into the research plan. Combining complex data and negotiating among opinions from many sources to devise the most effective plan for pursuing collaborative research.

As Lead Consultant, Marj worked with renowned leaders in these fields to plan and implement this project, including:

  • Julia G. Brody, PhD, Executive Director, Silent Spring Institute
  • Olufunmilayo I (Funmi) Olopade, MD, Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center
  • Susan Matsuko Shinagawa, Breast Cancer and Chronic Pain Survivor Advocate
  • Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Author and Distinguished Visting Scholar Ithaca College
  • David R. Williams, PhD, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health

“There is no one who can better manage a controversial project with a big vision, multiple levels of management and broad public interest than Marj. Her no-nonsense style, willingness to step up to any challenge, sense of humor, and compassionate holding of a room ensure that all voices are heard and that your vision is realized.”

—Marion (Mhel) H.E. Kavanaugh-Lynch, MD, MPH
Director, California Breast Cancer Research Program