Latino Immigrants Take Lead on Cancer Research
Out of darkness comes light. A new study revealed that Latinos are working hard to change the sobering fact that cancer has now surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States. Researchers from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that of America’s top cancer researchers, a whopping 42 percent of them are immigrants.
The reports findings show the key role that immigrant scientists continue to play in improving the survival rates of America’s cancer patients. For starters, the researchers that work at the top seven cancer centers in the country represent 56 nations, including Spain, Brazil and Argentina. At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which was ranked as the number one cancer treatment facility by U.S. News and World Report in 2012, 62 percent of the cancer researchers are immigrants. And, 56 percent of the researchers are foreign-born at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
“The outstanding work of immigrant cancer researchers is an example of how being open to immigration can benefit Americans,” said the report’s author Stuart Anderson, executive director of the NFAP and former head of policy and counselor to the commissioner of the INS. “The research is really the most exciting part of what I do,” said Dr. Alfred Quiñones-Hinojosa, author of Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Becoming A Surgeon ($15.14, University of California Press), and one of the scientists highlighted in the report. “I’m not only trying to save lives in the operating room. The research we are doing with this tissue is to find out whether or not there are stem cells within brain cancer—stem cells that are going crazy, stem cells that cannot regulate their own growth, and are therefore killing patients. That’s my research.”
Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa, is a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, neuroscience, and cellular and molecular medicine at Johns Hopkins University (where 35 percent of the researchers are immigrants). He came to America as an undocumented immigrant teen from a poor village in Mexicali, Mexico, risked his life to cross U.S. borders and worked in the fields of a tomato farm in Central, California. But those hardships didn’t stop him from going to college and graduating from Harvard Medical School before becoming the director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program and the Pituitary Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins where he performs over 250 brain surgeries a year.
How’s that for fulfilling the American Dream?