Korfmacher Recognized by Breast Cancer Coalition

Oct. 9, 2012

Katrina Korfmacher, M.S., Ph.D., has been recognized by the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester for her work on environmental health. Korfmacher, an associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) Department of Environmental Medicine, is the 2012 recipient of the Harriet Susskind-Rosenblum “Advocate’s Spirit Award” which was presented at the Coalition’s 11th annual ARTrageous Affair Breast Cancer Gala on October 6, 2012.

“Katrina is the quintessential advocate,” said Holly Anderson, executive director of the Breast Cancer Coalition. “When she brings an issue to us it is well-researched and based on the latest scientific evidence. That information may not always be clear to us, but she helps us through the process of understanding.”

Korfmacher is director of the URMC Environmental Health Sciences Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core. Her work focuses on the impact of environmental factors on health and the intersection of science, public policy, advocacy, and community-based organization and education. Korfmacher participates in many local, state, and national organizations related to community environmental health.

One example of her work is the community-wide effort to reduce childhood lead poisoning in Monroe County. Korfmacher is a board member of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, which was created in 2001 in the wake of studies that showed that children in the City of Rochester had elevated blood lead levels that were ten times the national average. She has also been involved in efforts to educate the community about broader home health issues, impacts of air quality on health, and the health impacts of hydrofracking.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Breast Cancer Coalition,” said Korfmacher. “I am a strong believer in the ability of science to inform and influence public policy decisions that improve public health. The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester helps make this happen and they are some of the most effective advocates for environmental health anywhere in New York State. We all have heard that our health depends on our genes, our behavior, and our environment. We can’t change our genes, so the first impulse of those concerned about prevention usually focuses on behavior – it is direct, individually actionable, and immediate – and may seem a lot easier than changing one’s environment. But the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester understands that exposure to environmental chemicals early in life can predispose us to disease later on. From that standpoint, ‘prevention’ means changing the policies that regulate whether, how much, and what kinds of chemicals get into our environment.”

The Advocate’s Spirit Award is named for Harriet Susskind-Rosenblum, a Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester founder and advocate who died of breast cancer in October 2002.