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Dr. Otis  Brawley

Dr. Otis Brawley

Former Chief Medical & Scientific Officer, American Cancer Society, Inc.

Dr. Otis Brawley

Former Chief Medical & Scientific Officer, American Cancer Society, Inc.


Otis W. Brawley, M.D., is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. He is an authority on cancer screening and prevention and leads a broad interdisciplinary research effort focused on cancer health disparities at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Academy of Medicine.

His work focuses on how to close racial, economic, and social inequalities in the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer. It is concentrated on the appropriate practice of evidence based medicine, efficiency in healthcare and the waste that occurs when there is not orthodox interpretation of science.

Dr. Brawley was chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society from 2007 to 2018. He oversaw the largest private program funding cancer research in the US. From 2001 to 2007, he was director of the Georgia Cancer Center at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. From 2001 to 2018 he served as professor of hematology, oncology, medicine and epidemiology at Emory University.

Among numerous awards, he was a Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholar and received the Key to St. Bernard Parish and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Meritorious Service Medal for his work as a PHS Commissioned Officer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is also a recipient of the Department of Defense Uniformed Services University Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to military medical education. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology and one of the few physicians to be named a Master of the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Brawley is a graduate of University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency at Case-Western Reserve University and a fellowship in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute. He is board certified in Internal medicine and medical oncology.

Speech Topics

Staying Healthy: Reducing Your Risk of Cancer

From genetics to the environment, many factors affect your risk of cancer. Responsible for promoting the goals of cancer prevention, early detection, and quality treatment through cancer research and education, Dr. Brawley champions efforts to decrease smoking, improve diet, and provide the critical support cancer patients need. You can reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices and following recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early. Get the facts on what you can do to help protect yourself and your loved ones. “I’d much rather prevent a cancer, than have to diagnose and treat and cure it.”

Eliminating Health Disparities

As an acknowledged global leader in the field of health disparities research, Dr. Brawley is a key leader in the Society’s work to eliminate disparities in access to quality cancer care. Cancer affects different populations differently, and minority groups in the United States continue to bear a disproportionate cancer burden. Much of this difference is due to factors like poverty and lack of access to prevention/detection services and high-quality treatment. Dr. Brawley will share research to help understand barriers to health care and create strategies for overcoming them.

How We Do Harm

As an oncologist with a dazzling clinical, research, and policy career, Dr. Brawley’s journey from a childhood in the gang-ridden streets of black Detroit, to the green hallways of Grady Memorial Hospital and onto the boardrooms of The American Cancer Society―results in a passionate view of medicine and a deep understanding of healthcare today. Brawley calls for rational healthcare, healthcare drawn from results-based, scientifically justifiable treatments. There is an overtreatment of the rich, the under treatment of the poor and the financial conflicts of interest that many times determine the care a patient receives. How We Do Harm is a well-reasoned manifesto for change, and Dr. Brawley will challenge all of us-- physicians, patients, and communities-- to recommit ourselves to the pledge to 'do no harm.