The SHEPHERD Foundation Justice Lab seeks to undertake transformative work at the intersection of unjust systems. With a proven track record of driving solutions for systemic injustices in healthcare through our work with the rare cancer system, the Justice Lab will expand our mission to focus on the most overlooked of these already vulnerable patient populations: the incarcerated, refugees, immigrants, and under-represented minority communities. Because these marginalized individuals already have limited access to resources, facing a cancer diagnosis with few or even no FDA-approved targeted therapies creates additional challenges and burdens that become all but insurmountable.
We believe that to explore and address the existing inequities and acquire insights on how best to make effective, long-lasting, systemic changes - we must learn from those who have had experience with these systems first-hand. The Justice Lab Fellowship is a professional development program that develops participants’ expertise, while offering the fellows the opportunity to share their own experiences and insights. It engages participants with a variety of mentors and practitioners across the fields of research and policy, deepens their community engagement, and uses storytelling to build narratives for how we can lessen the burden on the most neglected members of society. Together, we will advocate for greater access to resources and opportunities for these historically underserved populations.
A cancer diagnosis, under the best of circumstances, is brutal. When that diagnosis is compounded by having to fight within multiple, fragmented and siloed systems at once, it becomes almost impossible. We believe everyone is deserving of access to quality care, just treatment, and human dignity, and we look to meet people where they are in their rare cancer journey, no matter where that may be. By joining the voices of the marginalized together, we seek to create a powerful chorus that will be too loud and too difficult to ignore. The end goal is to make meaningful change so that all patients – regardless of their station in life – may live.