Center for Health Equity

Our mission is to develop patient-facing technology to improve quality and access of cancer care for all patients across the Mid-South.


David Schwartz, MD, FACR

Director of Radiation Research: Center for Health Equity

To learn more about Dr. David Schwartz, please click here.


The Center for Health Equity (CHE) is a bold partnership between the Department of Radiation Oncology and leaders at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Preventative Medicine. We are dedicated to forging paths to improve treatment access and cures for all cancer patients, regardless of financial or social status. According to Director, David Schwartz, MD, FACR, “Our mission is to provide every single patient and their loved ones, regardless of resources, the tools to engage and overcome the challenges of cancer.”


  • Why Cancer?

Cancer delivers its greatest challenges to those with the least resources. Poor patients face worse outcomes in every aspect of cancer care: late diagnosis, poor quality treatment, delayed or incomplete recovery, medical bankruptcy, and shorter survival. Our mission is to:

1. Improve cures and full (health, financial, and social) recovery of all our patients and their families, and

2. Partner with our community to reduce cancer risk and create healthy opportunities for all of Memphis to thrive.


  • Why Radiation Oncology?

Over half of all cancer patients need radiation treatment. It cures or improves comfort for many types of cancer, including cancer of the throat, brain, lung, abdomen, lymphatics, and other organs – but it is expensive and requires complex technology and specialized staff. A big roadblock for patients is finding transportation to the centers which give this treatment, especially patients living in rural areas of the Mid-South. Radiation creates side effects that may impair patients from driving themselves, managing their daily life, or earning a living. CHE is the first center dedicated to ensuring radiation treatment is accessible, affordable, and manageable so the chances of whole-person recovery are improved for everyone.


  • Why Memphis?

– Many Memphians face financial distress (2/3 of the population).

– Memphis is also well known to be a “hot spot” for cancer survival disparities.

– Shelby County is ranked as one of America’s most “unequal” counties based on segregation between the wealthy and poor.

– 39% of Memphis youth live in poverty vs. a national average of 22%.

– Poverty in America leads to more stress, worse health, and shorter lives.

– Cancer patients in poor areas are diagnosed at more advanced stages of cancer.


We invite you to join this journey with us as we face our city’s toughest issues. 

  • Can we empower radiotherapy patients to more simply manage complex appointment schedules from their cell phone?
  • Can we identify and assist patients at risk for not making their scheduled radiation treatments?
  • Can we engage middle school, high school, and college students in cancer care and research in ways that directly impact the health of their own community?
  • Can we monitor these youths toward careers of healthcare service in Memphis or other distressed communities?
  • Can we holistically support caregivers of radiotherapy patients through carefully designed mobile apps?
  • Can we reduce the cost and burden of radiation treatment by safely reducing the required number of appointments?


For more information, please contact [email protected].

To keep up with our Center’s progress, please visit our blog at